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Hard Hat at Solar Panel Farm

How To Get Into Solar Engineering 

Solar engineering is a high-paying job field that allows you to help make the planet a better place. Solar energy engineering jobs are expected to continue to grow in demand as more people see the value of renewable energy in reducing the impacts of climate change.

a solar engineer with work glasses on

There are actually several different types of solar engineers who work together on solar energy projects. This comprehensive career guide covers the different types of solar engineers and answers questions including what do solar engineers do and how to become a solar engineer. 

Career Path Overview for Solar Engineer

Education Requirements

Bachelor’s Degree; Licensure as a Professional Engineer

Recommended Degree Program

B.S. in SBM Renewable Energy, A.A.S. in Renewable Energy

Average Salary (2021)


Workers Employed in U.S. (2020)


Projected Job Openings by 2030


Projected Growth Rate

8% (as fast as average)

Other Job Titles

Solar Power Engineer, Material Engineer

Related Careers

Energy Engineer, Renewable Energy Consultant

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Solar Engineer Do?

If this field is new to you, you may be wondering what is solar engineering? Solar engineering is a field of engineering that focuses on designing, implementing, and maintaining ways to utilize solar power, usually through the use of solar panels. Sun power is the most ubiquitous energy source available on this planet, so solar engineering is an important field that is expected to continue to grow. It’s one of many climate change careers that help protect the planet.  

Solar panel engineers design solar panels and solar energy systems. Engineers work in many aspects of the solar energy field, including building, designing, and installing solar panels and working to improve solar technology through data collection, lab work, and field experiments. Some engineers also work on repairing solar panels and performing routine maintenance. 

Solar engineer teams usually consist of many different types of engineers:

  • Materials Engineer: Material engineers work with the raw materials used to create different solutions such as solar panels. They develop and test materials like computer chips, metal for solar panel mounts, batteries, and more. 
  • Chemical Engineer: Chemical engineers aid in developing solar panels by studying the flow of energy and other processes taking place. They help to improve solar technology to make it more efficient, affordable, and sustainable. 
  • Electrical Engineer: These engineers are essential to the field of solar energy. They design, create, and maintain the circuits that give solar energy electrical systems life. 
  • Industrial Engineer: This lesser-known type of engineer helps bridge the gap between the designers of solar panels and the end users. They ensure that solar energy systems are usable and efficient for customers.
  • Mechanical Engineer: Solar energy systems are complex and involve a lot of parts that work together. Mechanical engineers make sure those parts work seamlessly as a team. They also repair and maintain parts as needed. 

Junior Solar Engineer Job Description 

What does a solar engineer do in an entry-level position? A junior solar engineer job may involve installing, maintaining, and repairing solar panels under the supervision of a more experienced engineer. Junior solar engineers should be proficient in computer-aided design (CAD) software and have a strong understanding of solar energy. They should be able to work with a team of engineers and other solar energy professionals

Advanced Solar Engineer Job Description

Advanced solar engineers may help to develop and implement large solar energy projects such as one for a large corporation or a city. They often manage teams of engineers and oversee solar energy systems. Senior solar engineers also work with executives, consultants, and other professionals to execute, manage, and audit projects. Some advanced solar engineers may even go into teaching and lead solar engineer training programs.

Explore more high-paying environmental careers where you can make a difference at work.

Solar Engineer Work Location

Where Do Solar Engineers Work?

Solar engineers spend some of their work time in offices and some in the field. Others may work in laboratories or factories. A solar engineer’s job description varies greatly depending on the job and the employer. 

The job may require travel to different sites and physical labor such as carrying heavy equipment and climbing onto rooftops. Regardless of the work environment, most solar engineers work full time and may work irregular hours due to travel or responding to power outages and other issues. This includes responding to natural disasters.

The states that employ the most material engineers, a common type of solar engineer, are:

  • California
  • Ohio
  • Texas
  • Pennsylvania
  • Florida

Average Solar Engineer Salary

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have data specifically on the average solar engineer salary, but they do have overall data on material engineers. This is relevant since many solar engineers are material engineers. The median pay for material engineers in 2021 was $98,300. This is significantly higher than the national median income for the same year across all occupations, which was $44,225. 

Top 5 States for Geoscientist Salary in U.S.


Average Annual Salary

Average Hourly Rate
















Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

What is the Job Outlook for Solar Engineers? 

The job outlook for solar engineers is bright – pun intended! As humanity continues to see the effects of climate change on society, renewable energy options become more popular. This means there will continue to be a need for solar engineers to help maintain existing solar energy projects and design more effective solar panels for the future. In fact, the job outlook is promising for many renewable energy careers

Job Outlook for Material Engineers:

  • Estimate of jobs available: 22,100
  • Rate of projected job growth: 6% (as fast as average)
  • New jobs to be added in the next 10 years: 1,300
  • Fastest growing states for jobs: California, New Mexico, Ohio, and Texas

What Education is Needed to Become a Solar Engineer? 

Knowing how to get a job in solar energy starts with the right education. Most entry-level solar engineer positions require a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a related field. Your education will include both academic and lab time, and you will need to develop a strong grasp of photovoltaic systems, thermal power technology, CAD, and computer programming.

Solar Engineer High School Recommendations

Some high schools focus on engineering and other STEM fields. These schools can help prepare you for a career as a solar engineer before you even start college. Classes such as physics, chemistry, computer science, and environmental science are key to establishing a strong foundation for engineers. Take as many of these as your high school offers. 

In addition to science, technology, and elective courses, you can get involved in extracurricular activities and organizations to build your solar engineering skills. Here are some popular options:

Solar Engineer College Education Recommendations

Becoming an engineer requires completing a Bachelor of Science degree program, which usually takes about four years. The degree may be in engineering or a related field such as Environmental Science and Climate Change

A master’s degree is required for some advanced positions, research, and teaching jobs. If you want to earn a master’s degree, it will take an additional two years or more of college. 

Learn how environmental science can prepare you for an engineering career from Unity’s blog.


Aspiring solar engineers should obtain a bachelor’s degree in engineering, materials science, or a related field. While there are many different types of engineering undergraduate programs, Unity Environmental University offers a one-of-a-kind B.S. in Sustainable Business Management: Renewable Energy. Another option is getting an associate degree like Unity’s A.A.S. in Renewable Energy to kickstart your solar engineering journey.


A master’s of engineering is an advanced degree geared towards working professionals. An advanced degree may be required for high-level engineering positions. Also, if you are interested in teaching higher education or working in solar energy research and development, it may be worth it to pursue a master’s. 

Additional Certifications and Licenses

Some, but not all, engineering jobs require a Professional Engineering (PE) license to work in addition to a degree. To get an engineering license, you must pass two tests – the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam and the Professional Engineering (PE) exam. The license is issued by the state where you work. 

Recommended Unity Environmental University Degrees and Courses

B.S. in SBM Renewable Energy 

This business degree will prepare you for a career managing solar energy systems. It combines coursework on environmental science, economics, and solar technology. This is a great option for anyone interested in starting their own solar energy business.

A.A.S. in Renewable Energy

Some solar energy technician positions only require an associate’s degree or job training program. If you want to start working sooner than four years, consider an Associate of Applied Science in Renewable Energy. You will learn the basics of solar energy and how to work on solar energy systems.

unity environmental university logo

Solar Engineer at Work Site

Explore More Career Paths Related to Solar Engineering

Energy Engineer 

Solar engineers are a type of energy engineer, but energy engineers may also work on wind turbines and other renewable energy systems. 

Renewable Energy Consultant

Renewable energy consultants are part of the solar energy team. They advise businesses and organizations on renewable energy projects from development to auditing.

Degree Programs

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