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The value of solar certifications

By Dan Pickel

When the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) is exhibiting at solar conferences around the country, one of the main questions we hear from solar professionals is, "Why should I get certified?"

There are a lot of great reasons to get Board Certified. In the renewable energy industry, NABCEP's certification programs are the definition of knowledge, experience, and professionalism. Earning one or more of NABCEP's Board Certifications has many benefits.

  • Increase your respect and marketability in the industry.
  • Improve your skills and abilities.
  • Validate your knowledge in the industry.
  • Positively impact your reputation, credibility, and consumer confidence.
  • Prove your willingness to invest in your professional development.
  • Demonstrate your commitment to your profession.
  • MONEY.

You may have noticed that I mentioned money, so I'll explain how being NABCEP Board Certified leads to $$$$.

Earning a Board Certification is like getting a key that can open the door to a vast world of opportunities and dramatically increase your earning potential. NABCEP Board Certifications help distinguish you from the rest of the pack regarding attracting customers, earning promotions, receiving more offers for lucrative positions in other companies, and giving you an advantage when you decide to open your own business.

Being NABCEP Board Certified is a signal to employers, customers, and other professionals that you met some challenging experience and training requirements before passing a very rigorous exam. Having one of our Certification Marks on your website, in your email signature, or on a decal on the side of your vehicle lets people know that you're an experienced professional who takes the job seriously, which can open up a myriad of lucrative opportunities.

Board Certifications are also valuable for employers for many different reasons. For employers, NABCEP Board Certifications:

  • Make hiring decisions much easier;
  • Save time and money by helping employers fill open positions with qualified candidates;
  • Are a reliable predictor of employee success;
  • Reduce the costs associated with poor-quality installations;
  • Prove that candidates have the knowledge and skills to get the job done right.

NABCEP Board Certifications also help customers and have a positive impact on the renewable energy industry as a whole. Our Board Certifications help customers make more informed decisions, improve quality assurance for PV customers, raise customer satisfaction levels, and reduce the risks of installing a solar system.

NABCEP also has an enforceable code of ethics, so if a customer has a bad experience with a NABCEP Board Certified Professional (although this rarely happens!), we can hold them accountable for violating the code of ethics. Board Certifications also lead to a more skilled and knowledgeable labor market in the solar industry. Creating and maintaining a highly skilled pool of professionals in the renewable energy industry is increasingly important as the industry matures and roles become more specialized.

You may ask, "What gives NABCEP's Board Certifications so much value?" The short answer is our subject matter experts (SMEs). NABCEP spends a lot of time and resources recruiting top-level subject matter experts to help with our certification and credential programs. If you've read a textbook about renewable energy over the past 20 years, the chances are the author was or is still on one of our committees. We also spend countless hours vetting new industry leaders, and we are careful about getting the right mix of professionals from diverse backgrounds and locations.

The reason so many renewable energy leaders want to work with us is that they want what we all want: to advance industry standards. The hundreds of SMEs on our committees work to develop Job Task Analyses (JTAs) which create a baseline for the tasks, skills, and knowledge required to get the job done right. The JTAs form the blueprints for NABCEP's industry-leading exams, and our SMEs, working with our testing vendor, craft expertly-written exam questions to test individuals' skills and knowledge.

Several of NABCEP's programs have earned a prestigious accreditation by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and our staff works tirelessly to ensure that NABCEP's programs are administered to the highest standards for certifications and testing to maintain quality and integrity within the industry. Although our certifications and credentials are developed with renewable energy professionals in mind, we understand that the certifications create quality assurance in the industry for consumers, the public, and other stakeholders.

Due to the growth in the industry and the trust that NABCEP has built in North America, NABCEP's certifications and credentialing programs are rapidly expanding abroad. Countries in Latin America and the Middle East are quickly adopting our certifications as their standard and implementing training and testing for our certification exams. As NABCEP's certifications become the global standard for professionals in the renewable energy industry, they will help to advance uniform standards of practice across the globe.

NABCEP's international expansion will lead to even more opportunities for NABCEP Board Certified Professionals in the United States and Canada who have held our certifications for years.

As we expand, NABCEP will continue to work diligently and meticulously to promote the growth of the renewable energy industry both at home and abroad while holding professionals to high standards to improve quality assurance within the industry.

Dan Pickel is Program Manager at the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (www.nabcep.org).