Growth Trends for Related Jobs
Solar power is a growing industry across the United States. The generation of power from sunlight developed mainly during the 1970s and 1980s, and the solar industry shows no signs of weakening into the 21st century. Solar-powered cars, homes and commercial buildings depend less on fossil fuels for power and reduce the hydrocarbon emissions in the environment.
Several types of solar enterprises employ sales representatives. The context of solar sales can include the sale of solar panels and other components to retailers and installers, the sale of whole-house solar electricity systems to homeowners, or the sale of solar products such as water-heating systems to industry. Remuneration differs depending on the representative’s level of education and experience, the type of solar products sold and the value of the sales transactions. Many representatives work on an incentive or commission basis.
Jobs in solar sales pay between $30,000 and $90,000 a year in basic remuneration, with commissions that can push the total remuneration into six figures. The majority of solar sales jobs have medical and dental benefits too, according to a 2009 study by the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not offer statistics in solar sales remuneration but defines a “sales engineer” as someone who sells goods or services that require a technical background. In this category, 66,060 workers nationwide earn from $51,940 to $146,580 per year.
The majority of solar companies are headquartered in California, which experienced the highest growth of the solar industry initially. Sales engineers employed in the state totaled more than 15,000 in May 2010, with Tulsa, Oklahoma, showing the highest annual mean wage in the industry with $139,860. Southeast Minnesota’s non-metropolitan area had the lowest recorded annual mean wage of $45,950.
Education and Training
Employers of solar reps frequently want sales staff to hold undergraduate degrees in a technical or scientific field. Environmental studies are useful, while other positions focus on business knowledge and sales experience. Sales reps also require an understanding of government laws and regulations regarding the use of solar energy. Sales reps with higher qualifications can command bigger remuneration packages, including better incentives and commissions.
The Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment predicts that the solar energy industry could provide power to more than 1 billion people globally by 2020, and this could potentially create more than 2.3 million jobs. In the early years of the 21st century, growth of the solar industry remained above 50 percent consistently. The Center expects the drive to reduce costs, dependence on fossil fuels and increased commitment to green energy to result in continued growth. This will directly affect the demand for solar energy and solar sales will continue to be a career with lucrative earning power.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:L Careers in Solar Power
- Sullivan University: Occupational Information Report on Solar Sales Representatives and Assessors
- University of Wisconsin at Madison: Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment: Solar Energy Sales Representative
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Sales Engineers
Tracey Sandilands has written professionally since 1990, covering business, home ownership and pets. She holds a professional business management qualification, a bachelor's degree in communications and a diploma in public relations and journalism. Sandilands is the former editor of an international property news portal and an experienced dog breeder and trainer.