Employment of solar photovoltaic installers is projected to grow 22 percent from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics. To meet this surge in demand, the industry will need to attract and retain many more solar installers and electricians.
In this short interview excerpt, HeatSpring sits down with Jan Scott, a lead installer, service technician, and electrical apprentice working in Colorado to learn more about what got her into the industry and advice for others who are thinking about joining the industry as well.
What’s not included in this excerpt, but instead the longer interview in the free Solar Career Pathways course, is how her employer, Independent Power Systems, is providing a supportive and inclusive work environment for Jan to thrive. By allowing for a flexible work schedule, Jan can work as an installer while also being able to drive her kids to school some mornings. It’s a small change for solar companies to increase their talent pool that has big personal and professional impacts for single parents who want to pursue careers in solar construction.
Let’s hear about Jan’s pathway to solar!
Jan: In my case, I had two young kids, being a single mother and I didn’t know what to do. I thought, okay, what do I like doing? What do I have a passion for? What have I been interested in?
Solar always just came to the forefront of my mind because when I was younger, my grandparents lived on the Navajo reservation, I’m Navajo. My grandparents on my mom’s side in 2000, they got a new house built for them from the Navajo Nation and along with that came a solar array, which I thought was awesome. So to be like, 15/16 years old and going to my grandparents’ house where they had no electricity, no running water, to go into the house and flip a switch and just be like, oh my God, this is so cool.
And also to see my grandparents lives like their traditional Navajos, but to see their lives be more easy for them to live their traditional lives was just really awesome to see. So fast forward 15, 14 years, and I’m trying to figure out. What am I going to do as a single mom? And I have two kids, what “legacy” can I leave behind?
I had been passing this school called Ecotech Institute, a renewable energy school. And one day, just not even thinking about it, drove in, had my son who was two-months old at the time, went in, talked to a recruiter, signed up for school and the next week went into orientation with my two-month old son in his car seat and just started school.
Once I started getting into the industry, learning the verbiage, learning what is expected of a solar installer, someone who’s in the solar industry, I picked it up so fast and it just really came natural to me.
So for me to be – I don’t know if it’s hurdled into this – but I just had to figure out what I was going to do because leaving a bad relationship, it was just like, what’s next. And then for me to find something that just clicked was really serendipitous.
Brit: My last question for you today is – for anybody listening, what advice do you have for them if they are wanting to get into solar and do similar work to what you’re doing?
Jan: I love this question, because I think it’s just do it. If you have an inkling, if you have a curiosity, there’s that itch that you want to scratch, just do it. If you can find a company that will give you a working interview, even better, jump on it.
Even if you don’t know how to hold a power tool, if you don’t know how to use a hammer, you know, if you’ve never been on a roof, just do it.
You never know what you’re capable of until you actually just do it. So if you’re wanting to get into the industry, just do it. You never know.