There may be some confusion over the NABCEP solar PV certifications. The NABCEP offers a number of certification programs for professionals in the renewable energy industry. These include wind installations, solar heating and solar PV (photovoltaic) installation. For solar PV installers, the NABCEP offers two certification programs: the NABCEP PV Entry Level certification and the NABCEP PV Installation Professional Certification.
The NABCEP PV Entry Level certification is as it sounds, an entry level program that only requires coursework before one is allowed to take the exam.
The NABCEP PV Installation Professional program requires both training AND relevant field experience to become certified. It has a much more rigorous examination and applicants must demonstrate the capability to supervise complete system installations, and have a detailed working knowledge of the electrical and plumbing codes, standards and accepted industry practice associated with PV and Solar Heating installations.
Obtaining a NABCEP PV Entry Level certification is NOT a perquisite for the NABCEP PV Installation Professional Certification. However, entry level coursework through a NABCEP Registered PV Entry Level Exam Provider, provided that a passing score achievement was obtained on the NABCEP PV Entry Level Exam, can be credited toward the fifty-eight (58) hours of required advanced PV training for the PV Installation Professional Certification (up to 18 hours).
The fact that PV Entry Level training can be credited toward the PV Installation Professional Certification is one of several reasons why obtaining the PV Entry Level certification is recommend. Other reasons:
- May help gain the work experience necessary to meet the field experience requirement for the PV Installation Professional Certification as companies are likely to hire candidates with a NABCEP PV Entry Level Certification over those with no skilled knowledge of solar PV installations.
- The NABCEP PV Installation Professional Certification requirements and exam are difficult to achieve, while the NABCEP PV Entry Level Certification could help would-be installers start their careers in solar much sooner.
- Provides a taste of solar technology and the solar industry without much investment, helping one decide if becoming a professional solar PV installer is right for them.
- Some states such as New York (NYSERTA), are accepting installers with a Entry Level certification with the understanding that the PV Installation Professional Certification takes time to obtain.
Hopefully this sheds some sunlight on the two solar PV installer certification programs offered by the NABCEP.