There are now more people employed by the solar power industry than there are in the oil and gas industry or the coal industry.
By the end of 2015, there were 208,000 workers employed by the solar power industry in the United States. The oil and gas industry employed 185,000 and the coal industry employed 190,000. The coal figure will continue to decrease as that industry continues to struggle.
According to the chart, California is the leader in solar power jobs. This may not come as a surprise to those familiar with the solar industry. California has been a solar leader for quite some time now. However, many other states have both plenty of land and a high number of sunny days throughout the year to be able to catch up to where California is.
It is expected that the solar industry will grow another 16 percent by the end of this year to about 240,000 people. On a global scale, solar power now employs about 2.8 million people and is the largest renewable energy employer.
Solar power will continue to grow in the coming decades, requiring an even greater workforce. Some optimists expect a need of at least 1 million solar power jobs in the next 10 to 15 years assuming solar power’s growth continues at its accelerated pace.
The average solar power worker also makes noticeably more than the average American worker. The median wage for a solar power worker at the end of 2014 was $20/hour as opposed to $17.09/hour for workers in other industries.
While energy job postings are not strong, relative to others, solar power job postings are an exception to this trend. The downward trend of oil prices have hurt the energy sector in general. At the same time, the solar power industry has been there to pick up some of the employment slack.
We can all expect a strong solar power industry in the coming years. The combination of the growing number of available positions, very competitive pay, and environmentally friendly work will continue to drive people to fill these highly sought after positions.