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Keep your eyes on solar companies

By Anthony Balderrama,
You don't need a degree in solar engineering to work in the industry. With training, your skills can translate to solar power.
You don't need a degree in solar engineering to work in the industry. With training, your skills can translate to solar power.
  • Green jobs, especially those in solar energy, are on the rise
  • Solar companies will add jobs at a greater rate than the rest of the economy
  • If working in an environmental field is important to you, find out about necessary courses

( -- Being environmentally friendly is the de facto mindset of most people today. Many cities provide recycling bins for their residents. Gym goers carry around reusable water bottles instead of disposable plastic ones. Businesses proudly tell their customers that their shopping bags are made from 100 percent recycled material. As a whole, we've all gone green.

Although the well being of the planet and breathable air for future generations are good enough reasons to stop pollution and energy waste, another (more immediate) reason exists: your career.

Green jobs aren't going away; in fact, they're on the rise. One area you might want to consider is solar energy. According to a new survey from The Solar Foundation, solar companies are on target to add jobs at a greater rate than the rest of the economy.

From the survey:

"[As] of August 2010, the U.S. solar industry employs an estimated 93,000 solar workers -- defined as those workers who spend at least 50 percent of their time supporting solar-related activities. Over the next 12 months, over 50 percent of solar firms expect to add jobs, while only 2 percent expect to cut workers. This funding is especially relevant given that the overall expected 12-month growth rate for the entire U.S. economy is only about 2 percent." Get the most from a fall-back job

Your first reaction might be, "Well, that's great for solar experts and the environment, but I'm not a scientist." However, you don't need to be.

The survey has a lot of interesting information, but its most interesting detail is how prevalent these jobs will be across several industries. You don't have to have a degree in solar engineering to work in this field. It's similar to how you can be a great salesperson in retail or insurance or medical equipment. With the right training you can use your skills to sell anything.

According to the survey, manufacturing, wholesale trade and installation are the primary sectors poised for growth. Within each group you'll find a variety of jobs, including:

• Solar water or pool heating installers or technicians

• HVAC technicians with specific skills in solar installations

• Plumbers with specific skills in solar installations

• Production workers

• Marketing staff

• In-house legal staff

• Accountants and accounting clerks or finance staff

• First-line supervisors or managers of production and operating workers 7 things you should never say in an interview

As you can see, most of today's professionals can use their skills in new jobs as solar positions continue to grow. So what can you do about it?

1. Pay attention

Solar jobs aren't disappearing anytime soon, and you're sure to read more about them in the future. Pay attention -- read articles, journals, books, studies. You'll be ahead of other job seekers if you understand the industry before you apply for the job.

2. Look around

The survey says that Colorado, Pennsylvania, Texas, Michigan and Arizona have a strong solar presence. Whether you live in one of those states or not, you should see what companies are focusing on solar efforts and where their new jobs are popping up. Solar jobs popular in Texas might not be as popular in your region, so have an idea of where you could end up.

3. Get educated

If working in this (or any environmentally focused) field is important to you, find out about certifications and courses. You might not need additional education to qualify for a job in this field, or you might only need one or two classes. Either way, you want to make sure that your core skills are bolstered by your qualifications in the solar industry. What your pet says about your career

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