So you want to become a solar panel installer?

1 Sep 2023

If you are thinking about renewables, this blog may help.

Renewable energy is a fast growing market. In fact the number of PV installations from January to March this year, increased by 114% from previous years.

The combination of the rising cost of living, energy prices and people's desire to be more environmentally friendly and reduce their carbon footprint, means the demand for solar panels and other renewable energy sources is high, and skilled tradespeople in this area are becoming highly sought after.

What does a solar panel installer do?

Solar panel installers are responsible for installing and servicing solar panels on buildings and land, and ensuring they efficiently convert solar power into renewable energy.

The job role of a solar panel installer involves the following duties:

  • Assessing locations to ensure they are suitable for solar panels

  • Measuring up areas for installation

  • Making adjustments to building surfaces so panels fit and are adequately supported

  • Installing and maintaining solar panels on homes, business premises or open land

  • Connecting solar panels to an electrical system

  • Grounding electrical equipment and checking wiring

  • Adhering to strict health and safety guidelines

  • Performing maintenance checks and fixing solar panels

  • Using a variety of technical equipment and tools

Solar panels can be installed by anyone, but an electrician is required to connect the solar energy supply to the mains. Increasingly electricians are specialising in this area so they can do the complete job, from installation to going live.

What qualifications do you need?

If you want to become a solar panel installer, you would need:

  • Level 2 Diploma in Electrical Installation

  • Level 3 Diploma in Electrical Installation

  • Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Electrotechnical Technology (or equivalent apprenticeship)

If you decide to do an apprenticeship this will take approximately 2 years.

These qualifications allow you to become a fully qualified electrician.

To specialise in solar installation there are a number of courses available ranging from 4-5 days and costing between £600 to £800.

The amount of time to become qualified varies depending on your starting point and which route you take, but the minimum would be around a year. The cost will vary according to the same factors but could be in the region of £10,000

How much does a solar panel installer make?

A qualified solar panel installer can expect to earn a salary of £38k per year. This will be higher in areas such as London and Sheffield.

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What skills are needed to become a solar panel installer?

According to Indeed, the number one job site, a solar panel installer needs the following skills:

  • Good technical knowledge of electrical systems

  • Good mathematical skills

  • Design skills

  • Strong attention to detail

  • Patience

  • A capacity to work well under pressure and manage stress

  • Good physical fitness and being comfortable working outdoors and at heights

  • Strong team working skills

  • Effective communication, interpersonal and customer service skills

  • Good technical knowledge of available solar panel products

What other knowledge do you need?

  • Strong understanding of building regulations

  • Excellent knowledge of Health and Safety Guidelines

What certifications are recommended?

MCS is the industry-led quality assurance scheme. It is not a mandatory or legal requirement, but does offer quality assurance to your customers.

MCS certifies low-carbon products and installations used to produce electricity and heat from renewable sources. It is a mark of quality. Membership of MCS demonstrates adherence to these recognised industry standards; highlighting quality, competency and compliance.

In order to become MCS certified your company will be asked to demonstrate commitment to:

  • Quality Expertise

  • Customer Care

  • Competency

  • Continual Improvement

Should you join a Competent Person Scheme?

Joining a competent person scheme gives you the advantage of being able to self certify your work. This saves time and cost of requiring a building inspector to sign off your work, which is beneficial to you and your customer.

The competent person schemes for microgeneration and renewable technologies are:

  • APHC


  • Certsure




  • Stroma

You can find out more on the government website.

Do you need an Insurance Backed Guarantee?

Customers look to tradesmen with an Insurance Backed Guarantee as it offers them protection and assurance.

As a trader if your business goes into liquidation, or receivership, or in the unlikely event of your death, you will be covered by the Insurance Backed Guarantee (IBG).

As a member of the Consumer Protection Association (CPA), you are provided with an IBG for every project.

An IBG is peace of mind for you and your customer, and could be the thing that sets you apart from your competitors.

Can you specialise further?

Once you have specialised as a solar installer, you could further specialise in commercial or residential properties, or for example being a heat pump specialist.

What about future proofing your skills and qualifications?

Renewable energy is a dynamically changing field. Innovation and developments are happening as fast as the market grows. As an installer you will be required to be continuously learning to stay abreast of any latest developments and changes in the industry.

Can I set up my own solar installation business?

As a qualified installer there is nothing stopping you from setting up your own business. If you want help there are lots of courses available that give you basic business knowledge, and can show you how to set yourself up and market your business.

To find out more, read our post “What do I need to set up my own trade business.”


Demand is high for qualified solar panel installers and this looks set to continue to grow. Making solar installation a viable and sustainable career choice.