How Solar is Shaking Up Energy Industry Hiring Practices

Written by:

Jen Simpson

Energy industry hiring practices need a makeover

It’s no secret that energy industry hiring practices could use a makeover. Across the United States, women make up roughly 47% of the total workforce, per the US Department of Labor (BLS). In the oil and gas sector, however, a mere 15% of workers are women, according to Petroleum Equipment & Services Association (PESA).

Solar offers greater diversity

Solar has nearly twice as many women than other areas of the energy sector. The latest Solar Jobs Census indicates greater than 26% of the solar workforce is comprised of women, up from just over 21% in 2014. The hike is due in part to those in wholesale trade and distribution, of which women hold nearly 36% of jobs, and those in manufacturing, where women hold more than 38% of positions.

The sector isn’t just more gender-diverse, though. Nearly
17% of employees are Latino or Hispanic, which puts it on par with the general
workforce statistics, and 8.5% are Asian, which is higher than the general

Wages are beating national averages

Across the country, national median wages amount to $18.12
per hour for all occupations. However, median entry-level wages for solar PV
electricians sits at $24.32 per hour and non-electricians are earning $18.92. Competitive
wages are seen in manufacturing as well, with newcomers bringing in $24.46 per

This is important to note because these emerging jobs do not
typically see the same gender disparities in pay that other careers do and many
serve as a gateway into the field, offering clear tracks to advanced positions.
Furthermore, those who aren’t interested in more technical jobs, such as electrician,
will find themselves at home in any number of rewarding careers in the sector.

Clean energy is booming

Research compiled by Forbes magazine shows a net growth of 110,000 jobs last year alone in clean energy and anticipate nearly twice as much growth before this year is up. It further calls upon BLS data which shows solar photovoltaic installers and wind turbine service technicians as the two fastest growing occupations in the United States through 2028, with expected gains of 63% and 57%, respectively. Research from NREL concludes renewable energy will supply 80% of the country’s needs by 2050 as well, a promising sign for job demand and growth.

Companies are struggling to find job candidates

All the growth has led to some difficulties locating new
employees. According to the Solar Jobs Census, about 85.1% of companies say it’s
“very difficult” or “somewhat difficult” to fill installation and project
development positions. Approximately 80% say the same of wholesale trade and
distribution roles as well as manufacturing jobs. Sales, marketing, and customer
service roles are hardest to fill, employers say. About half cite lack of
experience, technical knowledge, or training as the reason why they can’t fill
positions, but about 20% say they’re just not getting enough applicants or
there’s too much job competition in their area.

Solar may pave the way for better energy industry hiring practices

Granted, solar still has some ways to go. The demographics
of the industry are not yet in line with the general population. There’s nearly
a 50% disparity in Black and female employees. However, solar is doing a better
job than other areas of energy are and, with its rapid growth, is not only in a
position to shift those numbers even more, but upend the energy industry hiring
practices as a whole.

Energy companies are looking for you

Energy industry hiring practices are changing across the board, but these companies can’t hire you if you don’t apply. Whether your next step is solar, wind, or any other area of energy, it starts with a visit to Experience Energy.

Feature Image Credit: Photo by Pixabay from Pexels.

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