How to Make a Breakthrough in your Solar Career Through NABCEP

Getting NABCEP certified is a great way to grow your career in the solar industry. Whether you are new to solar or an established pro looking to improve your professional reputation, NABCEP offers accreditations to help you gain knowledge and skills. Many people think getting a professional solar certification takes years of study, but that’s not necessarily the case.

With NABCEP’s Associate Certification you can become certified in as little as 2 months. One of Aurora’s account executives, Morgan Altizer, recently went through the NABCEP program and earned her certification. She said, “The idea of getting certified was intimidating at first, but once I started studying it was so much easier than I thought.”

Morgan made the decision to get certified for several reasons. Although she had been in the industry for four years, she knew as a young professional that there was more to learn about the technical aspects of our industry. She also wanted to set herself apart and establish her credibility as a subject matter expert, which the NABCEP certification helped her accomplish.

In this post, Morgan will share what the NABCEP Associate experience is like, what you can expect from it, and how the certification can help you accelerate your career in the solar industry, regardless of your experience level.

Take it away Morgan!

What is NABCEP?

The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners® (NABCEP) is a nonprofit professional certification board and credentialing organization. It offers solar installers, salespeople, and designers the opportunity to achieve the highest level of solar education and experience.

The main benefit of getting NABCEP certified is that your customers will have higher confidence in your work. This is because NABCEP guarantees that board-certified members have met minimum levels of classroom instruction, passed a rigorous competency exam, and abide by a code of ethics.

NABCEP has several programs, including an Associate-level program, which is intended for individuals early in their energy career or seeking employment in the industry.

Eligibility: 3 Ways to Get NABCEP Certified

The NABCEP Associate Certification has three potential tracks:

  • Professionals with at least 6 months of work experience in the solar industry can take the certification exam.
  • Former NABCEP Entry-level recipients can complete 12 hours of continuing education credits in order to convert their Entry-level status to the Associate level.
  • Anyone can complete a training course with a registered provider in order to qualify for the Associate Exam.

You can prepare for the certification exam online with one of several NABCEP Registered Training providers. I used Heatspring’s Solar PV Boot Camp + NABCEP PV Associate Exam Prep course, taught by Instructor Sean White.

This course has a 97% pass rate on the Associate Exam and covers six modules of fundamental solar knowledge. The modules include 40 hours of self-paced videos, quizzes, and collaborative discussion boards.

The course is designed to prepare students for NABCEP’s “job task analysis” based on the five performance domains:

  1. Application
  2. Sales and Economics
  3. Design
  4. Installation
  5. Maintenance

For me, the most valuable aspect of the course was getting comfortable with the language and structure of the exam questions. While I was preparing for the Associate Exam, I was also working full-time at Aurora as an Account Executive so the self-paced feature was great to have. It also gave me the advantage of replaying or pausing video material so I could focus on complex electrical concepts and solar design variations.

The Benefits of Being NABCEP Certified

In my current role, I work with Aurora customers across the country who have varying degrees of expertise. The Associate-level Certification prepared me to handle the more complex technical questions, discuss the details of solar installations, and connect with my clients and customers in a much better way.

Some of my customers have even asked about my experience becoming NABCEP certified and whether they should also try to get certified. I easily recommended it because it would allow them to use the NABCEP watermark on job applications or on company branding. This is a quick way to boost their professional reputation and demonstrates a commitment to high-quality work.

What Was Most Difficult?

Although the Associate Certification is designed for entry-level positions, there are still some technical elements that may challenge people. Not coming from a STEM background, I found the Associate-level content to be pretty challenging, but still approachable with a bit of extra studying.

One advantage I did have was that there’s a great deal of overlap between the material covered in the Associate Exam and the design workflows in Aurora. Even though I’ve become an expert in designing with Aurora, many of the tasks, such as irradiance modeling and string sizing, are modeled automatically in Aurora.

The course challenged me to understand the fundamentals behind these automatic calculations. I now have a deeper appreciation for Aurora’s amazing software because of how seamlessly it automates all of these complexities.

Final Thoughts & Resources

I’m excited to work for such a supportive organization and I’m proud to be a female certified NABCEP PV Associate. I applaud the women who set themselves apart as change-makers and disruptors in science, business, and politics. And those whose achievements and boldness paved the way for me to become professionally certified in this industry.

This experience has helped me to understand my clients better and be more connected to the solar industry as a whole. I’m excited to continue my solar education through the NABCEP organization and grow my career in the solar industry even further.

For more information about NABCEP’s Associate Program, visit their website at https://www.nabcep.org/certifications/associate-program/

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Morgan Altizer