The NABCEP PV Installation Professional Certification is considered the gold standard for PV certifications. It’s renowned for being challenging. Many skilled installers take more than one shot to successfully pass it. It carries weight and holding the esteemed PV Installation Professional (PVIP) means something within the industry. It’s no wonder that many people are wondering how they too can become NABCEP PVIP certified, so let’s dive into some big questions around the certification and what it takes to be certified in one of NABCEP’s most popular professional certifications.
Question #1: What do you need to be eligible to take the NABCEP PVIP exam?
NABCEP requires that candidates have the following prior to completing their PVIP application:
- Completion of a minimum of 10 hours of OSHA Outreach Training Program for the Construction Industry training (or provincial equivalent); AND
- Completion of at least 58 hours of advanced training; AND
- Completion of installations equaling at least 6 Project Credits. Projects Credits are as follows:
- System size of 1 – 999kW = 2 Project Credits
- System size of 1MW and up = 3 Project Credits
Question #2: Can you take the PVIP exam without experience in the field?
No. The NABCEP PVIP is intended to certify professionals in the field of solar installation. That means that people taking the exam will need to have experience in solar installation prior to being eligible to sit for the exam. In the NABCEP Certification Handbook, NABCEP uses the language that candidates “shall have performed in a decision-making role, which had a material impact on the quality and serviceability of the PV installation.” This is intended to provide some inclusivity for different roles that have a direct impact on a system’s installation, like system designers, project managers, site managers, electricians, system engineers, and quality assurance/commissioning agents.
If you have not yet been in a decision-making role on solar installations, that’s okay! You can still work on your 58 hours of advanced training before or as you are getting experience. NABCEP allows you to have completed your training within 5 years of taking the exam.
Question #3: Is the NABCEP PVIP certification required to be able to install solar?
Typically, no. On the other hand, NABCEP certification may be preferred or allowed as an alternative requirement to electrical licensure by certain states, utilities, or organizational partners.
Solar installation companies should be familiar with all local licensing requirements at the state, regional, and local levels where they will be doing business, as requirements can vary widely even within a small geographic area.
Question #4: Is getting the NABCEP PVIP worth the investment of time and money? Speaking of… what is the investment of time and money?
Getting your NABCEP PVIP certification requires grit, commitment to building your core electrical and solar knowledge, and effort. It requires a financial and time investment in your education in the ballpark of $1800 and at least 68 hours (10 hours of OSHA 10 and 58 hours of advanced PV training courses), in addition to time spent working in the field gaining hands-on technical experience.
Taking the exam itself also includes a $125 application fee and a $375 exam fee, which goes directly to NABCEP.
While these expenses can feel daunting, many folks spread them out over a year or more. Oftentimes, employers will share the costs of obtaining a NABCEP certification, especially once the employee has passed their exam. More educated employees allow for better installations and happier customers.
As someone who has the NABCEP PVIP and PV Technical Sales (PVTS) certifications, I can say that for me, having NABCEP certifications has undoubtedly opened more doors for my solar career. When I decided solar would be my career path, I knew I wanted to get NABCEP professional certifications relevant to my roles. Certifications put potential employers at ease when considering me for various roles within the industry because they could quickly validate my commitment to my education and immediately vet my experience. Having a NABCEP certification on my resume translates into a baseline of knowledge and understanding when talking to new potential employers or partners.
According to NABCEP’s website, NABCEP certification increases earning potential by an average of more than $11,000 annually.
All in all, NABCEP PVIP certification is a worthwhile way to prove your knowledge and dedication to the technical understanding of solar installation. If you’re ready to get started, check out HeatSpring’s NABCEP PV Installation Professional Certification Prep bundle or reach out to us with questions at NABCEP@HeatSpring.com.