Guidelines for Entry-Level Solar Technician Training

Establishing standardized skills for entry-level technician roles for utility-scale solar PV facilities.

The words "Guidelines for Entry-Level, Utility-Scale Solar PV O&M Technician Training next to an image of the cover page of the same guidelines

Building, operating, and maintaining any power generation project requires a high level of electrical safety awareness, training, technical skills, knowledge, and the personal discipline to always act in a safe manner. Solar PV energy sites are unique in that there are so many tasks to be performed by so few technicians, often without the specializations found in traditional generation facilities. To address these issues, guidelines have been prepared in cooperation among the members of 麻豆传媒集团 Association (ACP) with collaboration and support from the decades of experience training in the solar industry, (SEI).

The Entry-Level, Utility-Scale Solar PV O&M Technician Guidelinesestablish a transparent and valid set of standardized skills for entry level technician roles in operations and maintenance for utility-scale solar PV facilities that are connected directly to the grid. These guidelines can help:

  • Alleviate the continued pressure on costs and resources
  • Reduce bottlenecks in training
  • Provide a stable, competent entry level workforce
  • Reduce recruitment constraints by knowledgeable entry level O&M technicians ready for company qualifications and experience
  • Decrease training duplication
  • Reduce the pressure on recruitment and training.

Download the Guidelines

FAQs - Guidelines for Entry-Level Solar Technician Training

Frequently Asked Questions

Peruse some of our most-popular questions below.

What are the Guidelines for Entry-Level Solar PV O&M Technician Training?

A competency standard to serve as the building block for curriculum for prospective or new utility-scale solar PV Operations and Maintenance technicians. It assists employers, workforce development and training professionals, academia, and others in understanding the minimum educational and training-related requirements for entry level utility-scale solar technicians. It will outline the minimum recommendations for educational and training program鈥檚 learning objectives, knowledge, and skills needed for an entry level utility-scale solar technician position.

Are the Guidelines applicable to all solar technicians?

The ACP Guidelines for Entry-Level Solar PV O&M Technician Training provide a clear route for new entrants into the utility-scale solar PV industry and guide a person towards the appropriate training for the different job profiles of solar PV O&M technicians. The Entry Level Solar PV O&M Technician Guidelines will establish a transparent and valid set of standardized skills for entry level technician roles in the operations and maintenance solar PV technicians as it relates to large-scale or utility-scale solar facilities. Residential and Commercial solar technicians might have some similarities in the training requirements, however the safety, code, and building requirements may vary and this may require separate, specific training for those solar segments.听

Where can I find the ANSI/ACP Solar PV O&M Technician Entry-Level Minimum Standard?

This is currently being developed and balloted by ACP’s Standards Committees and the timelines will depend on the ANSI process.

What is the difference between the Standard and the Guideline documents?

The Standard sets the expectation on what needs to be taught or learned, while the Guideline helps to establish a more detailed view on how to accomplish the requirements from a training perspective.听

Why is the Guideline document published before the Standard?

Since the industry has immediate safety and technical training needs for a quickly growing workforce the Guidelines help to establish aligned training programs and expectations for employers, training providers, and institutions that align with industry needs. Since the Standards process can take months, and possibly years, ACP decided to take action to develop the training guidelines as requested by the industry members.听

How does this impact my training if my company outsources training?

For many companies, outsourcing training is typically used to get technicians trained. The hope is that when training is outsourced, companies will look to training entities that train to the ACP recommendations and utilize the guidelines in doing so.听

For other training institutions, the training curriculum should be expected to have similar alignment with the Guidelines to align with the consensus industry recommendations.

How does this impact my training if my company manages our own training programs?

Organizations that have developed programs and are already conducting training should have minimal impact. It is recommended a gap analysis be performed on the in-house training and the ACP Guidelines. Any gaps identified can be considered to add to the organization鈥檚 training program to align with the industry recommendations. Any organizations meeting the standard or going above the minimum standard would have no change to the training programs they have in place.听

However, companies with in-house training programs that align with the ACP standard and guidelines may also see a benefit in tailoring their in-house training to company-specific policies, procedures and equipment and instead relying on other training entities to do the basic safety and technical training covered in the ACP materials prior to the company-specific training.听

Who is Solar Energy International (SEI)?

(SEI) is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to empower students, alumni, and partners to expand a diverse, inclusive, well-trained and educated solar workforce and spread the knowledge of how to safely deploy industry-leading technology. With an aim to mitigate climate change, promote sustainable economic growth, and support energy independence, SEI has trained over 90,000 solar professionals since their founding in 1991.

Do we have to go to SEI training to meet the recommendations?

It is an option but is not required. Organizations can use SEI, other training providers, develop in-house training, or any combination of those that meet the minimum guideline. Organizations or institutions with comparable training programs may use this guideline to establish their own third-party verification to seek recognition as meeting the industry consensus Guideline. Organizations or institutions should be advised that recognition of this Guideline will always be dependent on, but not limited to, the regulatory, contractual, or owner specified requirements for any given site, and cannot be guaranteed though the application of this guideline.

What is the difference between certification and certificate of completion?

Certification is the action or process of providing someone or something with an official document attesting to a status or level of achievement. This would typically include some formal testing whether passing a written examination or in person practical validation by a certifying instructor.听

Certificate of Completion is simply attending a course and gaining credit for participating.听

These are two particularly important distinctions and, in most cases, since there is no standardized testing to ensure knowledge and terminal objectives are met, many training certificates are certificates of completion. This is something to verify with your training providers.听

What is accreditation as it applies to training centers or training providers?

Accreditation is the process of officially recognizing a training center or provider as having a particular status or being qualified to perform a particular activity via an established audit process (i.e., ISO or the International Standards Organization). ACP is in the process of determining the accreditation process for the Minimum Standards and Guidelines.

What is the difference between Certification and Qualification?

As mentioned above, there is a specific difference between certification or certificate of completion and qualification. Qualification is determined by the employer, and thus the employer should have processes in place to validate the skills, knowledge, and competency to meet the requirements to qualify individuals for tasks, work scopes, or job roles.

Will there be Industry Certification?

ACP is evaluating the opportunity and need for industry recognized certifications exams or practical competency validations.听

How does the ACP Micro-credentials align with this?

Most training is incomplete without demonstrated proficiency or competency for qualification.

Per 29 CFR 1910.269(a)(2)(viii) The employer shall ensure that each employee has demonstrated proficiency in the work practices involved before that employee is considered as having completed the training required by paragraph (a)(2) of this section.

29 CFR 1910.9 (b)Training. Standards in this part requiring training on hazards and related matters, such as standards requiring that employees receive training or that the employer train employees, provide training to employees, or institute or implement a training program, impose a separate compliance duty with respect to each employee covered by the requirement. The employer must train each affected employee in the manner required by the standard, and each failure to train an employee may be considered a separate violation.

Micro-credentials are a tool and mechanism to ensure employers have the tools to validate competency and proficiency and would be managed by the employer during the qualification phase. ACP has published 30+ micro credentials and plans to add additional ones throughout the year here: /resources/micro-credentials/.

How does this relate to apprenticeship requirements or programs?

Apprenticeship is a large consideration in terms of industry standards. This guideline could support the future development of an apprenticeship program for organizations or associations. The recommended number of hours could be applicable to the Related Technical Instruction (RTI) that is typically 144 total hours. The gap between the recommended Guideline hours and the total of 144 would be accomplished typically through company programs, substation or specific OEM training.听

What is the definition of an Entry-Level Solar PV Technician?

Solar O&M technicians are expected to perform a wide variety of tasks, mechanical and electrical, which contain intrinsic hazards. Without the proper training, these tasks would be considered very dangerous. Additionally, technicians often work without direct supervision, so it is critical that skills be taught, and competency verified, before the technician is considered qualified to perform a task alone. It is also critical to nurture a culture of personal responsibility and a high level of conformance to procedures as a part of the overall operational management strategy. Technicians can only be expected to remain safe if they clearly understand the hazards associated with given tasks and are self-motivated to avoid unnecessary risk to themselves or others. Although various agency requirements may apply, the focus will be primarily on entry-level operations and maintenance personnel who generally would be expected to:

Perform:

  • Awareness of and the ability to follow all health and safety and operating procedures.
  • Stop-work authority when unsure or unsafe.
  • Participate in daily job task planning activities as it relates to the safe performance of tasks.
  • Perform a hazard recognition of the work area to determine personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements.
  • Use of a variety of PPE such as arc flash clothing, insulated gloves, glasses, helmets, and boots.
  • Interact with stakeholders as directed by manager and ensure safety.
  • Write (some using computer or mobile device) routine reports and correspondence. Maintain service logs and monitor system performance.
  • Follow written procedures and equipment manuals.
  • External visual inspections of system equipment to include fencing, solar modules (panels), combiner boxes, wiring systems, racking, or tracking systems, pad-mount transformers, communications equipment, and meteorological stations.
  • Wire management.
  • Lift or move repair parts.
  • Identification of vegetation management needs.
  • Interpret and respond to weather impacts.

Assist under the supervision of a Qualified Electrical Worker (QEW) in:

  • Safe operation and performance of mechanical and electrical maintenance activities for inverters, combiner boxes, tracking systems, and switchgear.
  • Collecting inverter data for testing or research and analysis.
  • Replacement of PV modules or PV module connectors (example: MC4).
  • Replacement of inverter components.
  • Identification of failures, faults, and problems, and implementation of corrective actions.
  • Conducting acceptance and performance tests on systems and equipment following planned maintenance and outages.

The fundamental areas of knowledge, skill, and ability typically required for a Solar PV O&M Technician are:

  • Ability to maintain employer fitness for duty requirements.
  • Attention to detail.
  • Comprehend basic system diagrams, schematics, and symbols.
  • Collaboration and teamwork.
  • Mechanical and electrical fundamentals.
  • Proficient with basic software, computer, and mobile devices.
What are the career opportunities after Entry-Level?

With experience and further training, the solar PV O&M technician may progress to carrying out more complex jobs depending on interests and abilities. These include job roles such as lead technician (installation); lead technician (service); commissioning technician; troubleshooting technician; high voltage specialist; and site supervisor.听

For further guidance on career pathways please see:听

How will I find out more?

If you have any questions, please email: workforcedev@cleanpower.org

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