In 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy launched a pilot program, Solar Ready Vets®, that connected our nation’s skilled veterans to the solar energy industry by preparing them for careers as solar photovoltaic (PV) system installers, sales representatives, system inspectors, and other solar-related occupations. In 2017, the pilot ended and Solar Ready Vets became an independent program administered by participating military bases, using a variety of tools and partnerships developed during the pilot phase while it was administered by The Solar Foundation. Altogether, the pilot program graduated 526 students from 35 cohorts in 10 different states across the country.
The Solar Ready Vets pilot program was enabled by the U.S. Department of Defense’s SkillBridge initiative, which allows exiting military personnel to pursue civilian job training, employment skills training, apprenticeships, and internships up to six months prior to their separation. The pilot program prepared soon-to-be inactive military personnel to be strong candidates for positions in management, PV installation, sales, and other technical and non-technical positions.
Training Program Details
The Solar Ready Vets pilot program was developed based on the specific needs of high-growth solar employers and was tailored to build on the technical skills that veterans have acquired through their service. Each cohort trained approximately 20 active military personnel per class and each class lasted between four to six weeks. Programs included hands-on instruction that took place in a classroom setting, though some cohorts had a hybrid format of online and in-person classes. There were no out-of-pocket costs for participating service members or military bases.
Toward the end of the course, students took the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) Entry Level Exam to earn the most widely recognized entry-level PV installation credential across the country. After graduation from a Solar Ready Vets pilot cohort, service members interviewed with leading national and regional solar companies for a wide variety of jobs within the industry.
Military bases were selected by DOE, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense and military branches, based on the number of exiting military personnel from the installation, the strength of the surrounding solar market, and the training capacity of nearby training institutions. The Solar Ready Vets pilot program was available at the following military installations:
- Camp Pendleton in California – U.S. Marine Corps
- Fort Carson in Colorado – U.S. Army
- Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia – U.S. Navy
- Hill Air Force Base in Utah – U.S. Air Force
- Fort Drum in New York – U.S. Army
- Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey – U.S. Air Force, Army, and Navy
- Eglin Air Force Base in Florida – U.S. Air Force
- Marine Corps Base Hawaii – U.S. Marine Corps
- Joint Base San Antonio in Texas – U.S. Air Force and Army
- Fort Bragg in North Carolina – U.S. Army
Solar Energy Technologies Office Information
- How to hire veterans in solar energy
- Press Release from May 17, 2016: Energy Department Launches Five New Solar Ready Vets Training Locations, Announces $10 Million for National Solar Training Programs
- Blog Post from February 18, 2016: Solar Ready Vets: Inside the Training
- Blog Post from January 6, 2016: Taking Solar Training for Veterans to a New Level in 2016
- Blog Post from November 10, 2015: Honoring Our Veterans through Jobs in Solar Energy
- Blog Post from June 26, 2015: Training Veterans to Work in the Rapidly Growing Solar Industry
- Blog Post from April 27, 2015: Joining Forces: Clean Energy Companies Commit to Hire Veterans
- Blog Post from April 6, 2015: Solar Ready Vets: Preparing Our Veterans to Join the Growing Solar Workforce
- Press Release from Feb. 13, 2015: Three Military Bases Partner with Energy Department to Train Veterans for Solar Jobs
- Blog Post from Feb. 13, 2015: Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative Trains Veterans for Solar Jobs
- Blog Post from Nov. 7, 2014: Leveraging Veteran Talent: The Opportunity for the Clean Energy Industry
- Press Release from Sept. 18, 2014: White House Highlights New DOE Measures to Advance Renewable Energy Deployment and Increase Energy Efficiency
- Blog Post from Sept. 4, 2014: Training Veterans for Careers in Clean Energy
- Solar Energy Career Map