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Stylized text: Licensing & Certification

The topic of licensing and certification is always mentioned in any type of training and job entry discussions.

  • Licensing is defined as permission granted by a competent authority to engage in a business or occupation or in an activity otherwise unlawful.
  • Certification is defined as a document certifying that one has fulfilled the requirements of and may practice in a field.

With regard to the construction industry, a contractor’s license is required in order to obtain a building permit needed for lawful installations. Certification is a certificate of knowledge that can be of interest to a contractor when hiring an individual as an employee. 

To become a contractor, an individual must satisfy the construction industry licensing laws of the locality – either state, city, county or territory.  Licensing is a state or local requirement.  State licensing normally requires at least four years of practical on-the-job experience.

The training being addressed by this program is not directed at licensing, but will be directed at achieving a basic knowledge of the fundamental principles of the application, design, installation and operation of grid-tied and stand-alone PV Systems on the part of entry level practitioners.  The training will be provided by qualified training institutions and acknowledgement of basic knowledge skills is to be done by the nationally recognized North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).  

NABCEP Entry Level Program

The NABCEP PV Entry Level program is designed for individuals wanting to enter the solar field.  Passing of the NABCEP PV Entry Level Exam provides a means to demonstrate that an individual has achieved a basic knowledge of the fundamental principles of the application, design, installation and operation of grid-tied and stand-alone PV Systems.

Note that the knowledge demonstrated by passing the NABCEP  exam does not replace the knowledge, skills or abilities of the electrical or other construction trades, or those of other professions or degree programs that require considerably more academic and/or practical experience. As the market grows for photovoltaics, students achieving this industry-sponsored PV Entry Level exam may find that their employment opportunities are enhanced by starting the job with an understanding of the basic fundamentals, terms and operational aspects of a PV system.

NABCEP does not have curriculum available for the Entry Level Program courses.  Curriculum must be developed from NABCEP’s Learning Objectives which are broken down into subtopics for the development of curriculums.  Providers may use the resources and materials they prefer in order to sufficiently prepare students for the PV Entry Level Exam.  NABCEP provides a listing of sugegsted references and study materials that a course provider may choose to use.  Providers are not limited to this list and may find other suitable references.

Note that currently NABCEP offers both the PV Entry Level Program and well as a Soalr Water Heating Entry Level Progam.  See information at NABCEP.

NABCEP Installer Certification Program

Individuals passing the NABCEP PV Entry Level Exam should not be confused with NABCEP PV Installer Certification Program. The latter can only be achieved by experienced individuals who have passed a much more rigorous examination, have demonstrated the capability to supervise complete PV system installations and who have a detailed working knowledge of the electrical codes, standards and accepted industry practice associated with PV installations.

NABCEP PV Technical Sales Certification Program

The NABCEP PV Technical Sales Certification is a voluntary certification that provides a set of national standards by which PV Technical Sales Professionals with skills and experience can distinguish themselves from competitors. Certification provides a measure of protection to the public by giving a credential for judging the competency of practitioners.

The target candidate for NABCEP certification is a person with job descriptions such as sales person, application engineer, financial or performance analyst, or site assessor.

The NABCEP PV Technical Sales Certification has been developed in accordance with the certification field’s best practices and is based on a comprehensive Job Task Analysis (JTA) that was developed by a wide range of leading industry professionals. In order to qualify to take the NABCEP PV Technical Sales Exam, candidates must meet certain qualifications. In addition to requirements that include a signed code of ethics and demonstrating safety training, candidates must provide documentation that verifies a combination of training and experience.

The Resource Guide for the PV Technical Sales Program provides a detailed description of the job task analysis and subject matter involved.