Licensing and certification requirements for solar installers vary by state. In some states, individuals are required to have an electrical contractor’s license. In other states, individuals can pursue a renewable energy designation without electrical experience. Either way, you need to learn what it takes to install solar panels in your state.
If you want to begin learning about solar energy, visit our Introduction to Solar series.
Rhode Island offers a unique best-of-both-worlds approach – a pathway for those with electrical experience and a pathway for those without electrical experience.
Officially, an individual with electrical experience should pursue:
- a state electrical contractor’s license (called Certificate A) AND
- a journeyperson electrician’s license (called Certificate B)
To achieve these licenses, a candidate must:
- Certificate A – show proof of at least 6 years of experience in their respective trade and must possess a journeyperson electrician’s license for at least 2 years
- Certificate B – show proof of at least 4 years of apprentice electrical experience
Those without electrical experience can still participate in the solar installation industry. Here’s how…
The state of Rhode Island created a new type of contractor called the Renewable Energy Professional (REP), which is a designation that allows individuals to install solar panels without holding an electrical or plumbing license. Only contractors or individuals without an electrical license are required to obtain the REP limited license to perform ancillary non-electrical work on renewable energy systems.
There are several ways that someone can qualify for a Renewable Energy Professional license – with eligibility being that at least one of the following is met:
- The applicant holds a current certification from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) as a PV Installation Professional or Solar Heating Installer.
- The applicant holds a current certification from Underwriter Laboratory (UL)’s PV Installer Certification program.
- The applicant holds an associate’s degree or higher in a renewable energy technology.
- The applicant holds a certificate from the SEI Solar Professionals Certificate for Residential and Commercial Photovoltaic Systems.
- The applicant holds a certificate of training from a manufacturer of a specific technology for the installation of that specific technology.
- The applicant holds a training certificate from Everblue (that’s us!)
An added bonus here is that Everblue’s NABCEP PV Installation Professional package aligns with the training requirements for the NABCEP PV Installation Professional Certification (bullet point #1 above). Beyond the training, a candidate would need to document work experience on 3-5 permitted solar PV installations to qualify for the NABCEP PV Installer exam. At the end of the day, someone can begin working in the solar industry with a NABCEP Solar Installation Certification and a Rhode Island Renewable Energy Professional license!
So it is indeed possible for someone to perform solar panel installation work without holding an electrical or plumbing license. Through the Renewable Energy Professional designation, an individual demonstrates 80+ hours of education in the areas of solar energy, electricity, safety, PV installation technique, solar system design, and solar sales.
For more information about installing solar panels in Rhode Island, give us a call at (800) 460-2575 or start a live chat on our website.