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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The job of the future looks "Greener"

Jobs in the solar business are expected to grow by an average of nearly 50 per cent over the next 12 months, says a new survey of the industry in the San Francisco Bay region and California.

The industry is struggling to fill new solar jobs, according to the joint study by two community colleges in the Bay Area. Solar companies in California currently employ between 16,500 to 17,500 people. Within the next year, another 5,000 positions are being added.

Most of those jobs are in the Bay Area, which has about half of those jobs. Three-quarters of the 77 employers surveyed said they expect to be hiring. But employers say it's increasingly getting more difficult to find qualified entry-level workers. The biggest demand is for workers to install the photovoltaic panels on homes in California.

John Carrese from City College of San Francisco and Jennifer Oliver of West Valley College in Saratoga co-authored the study, which can be read here. (PDF) The jobs pay well, ranging from starting salaries of $31,200 to $60,000. Solar designers and engineers earn a median salary of $83,000.

The industry, which is still dependent on government programs to spur interest in solar panels, is hoping to gain workers from the construction sector that has been sputtering because of the housing slump.

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