In short: The Solar Ready Vets program has provided hundreds of United States veterans with the training and experience necessary to find meaningful post-military work in the solar industry. The program offers ways for active duty and veterans to get training and find a job in the solar energy industry. Other groups within the industry can help, too.
The Solar Ready Vets program was initially created in 2014 with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. The Solar Foundation took over in 2019 and announced two initiatives to get more veterans involved in the solar industry.
The first is a fellowship program that involves a series of 12-week work-based learning programs that place veterans and active duty personnel with solar employers for hands-on learning. The second is the SOAR initiative (Solar Opportunities and Readiness). Through SOAR, the Solar Foundation makes connections between employers, educators, and policymakers to streamline the ways veterans can get jobs in solar.
The Solar Ready Vets fellowship program is one important reason that about 20,000 of the 250,000 jobs in the solar industry are held by veterans.
Why Solar Ready Vets is Important
Bringing veterans into the solar workforce makes sense because military service already requires many of the skills necessary to be a great solar worker. Service members are generally known to be dependable and good in stressful situations. These traits are essential for good workers in a fast-pace always-changing industry like solar.
In addition, members of the military often have training in technology and leadership skills. Because of these skills, veterans generally end up in sales, logistics, and management roles within solar companies.
The fellowships involve both practical and theoretical learning. A little classroom time introduces key concepts of the industry. On-the-job training lets veterans learn key concepts and get their hands on the equipment the industry uses every day.
Here’s a video from the early days of the program showing how it works:
Ideal Solar Jobs for Veterans
The solar industry has many roles that are good for members of the military. Veterans tend to have advanced skills and experience, so the fellowship focuses mainly on management and professional roles, like technical sales, project development, system design and supply chain logistics.
Depending on Military Occupational Specialty, many of the skills soldiers learned in the service can be applied directly in the solar industry. In addition, many soldiers now have hands-on experience with setting up solar installations at Forward Operating Bases.
Here’s a short video from Florida Power & Light that features a few veteran employees doing their thing:
How Solar Companies can get involved
Solar companies that want to extend job opportunities to vets through the Solar Ready Vets fellowship can sign up at the American Solar Workforce Fellowships page. Employers must adhere to the guidelines of the program, which include rules to ensure veterans can apply for good jobs that usually require a Bachelor’s degree and leadership experience..
More information can be found at the Solar Workforce Development page on the Solar Training Network website.
Current Solar Fellowship Locations
The Solar Ready Vets fellowship is currently offered at these bases:
- Camp Pendleton (San Diego, CA)
- Fort Hood (Killeen, TX)
- MacDill Air Force Base (Tampa, FL)
Other Solar Training Programs for Veterans
The Solar Foundation isn’t the only group out there offering a veterans solar program. Our friends at Solar Energy International (SEI) offer the Active Duty Military & Veterans Career Transition Program, which offers in-person hands-on training.
SEI is authorized to accept Veterans Education Benefits for people on the GI Bill and other education and training programs. Veterans who are interested should check out the Solar Professionals Certificate Program.
Another group called Swords to Plowshares offers periodic 6-hour solar industry training sessions. The group partners with GRID Alternatives to offer the training in the Bay Area of California.
For those not located exclusively in the south, Green Veterans offers programs at locations in Rhode Island and Wisconsin, in addition to Florida and Puerto Rico.
Last modified: March 19, 2020