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Selecting a Certified Solar Electric Installer

About Certification

Many professions and trades have instituted certification programs to elevate the credibility and the quality of their services. Credentials are available representing all types of occupations from health care to finance to auto mechanics – professions where public safety and protection are a concern.
is a voluntary process by which a nongovernmental agency or association grants recognition to an individual who has met certain predetermined qualifications.
Licensure is the process by which an agency of government grants permission to persons to engage in a given profession or occupation.
Now, consumers who are purchasing solar electric systems can look for an installer with a certificate from NABCEP.

NABCEP: the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners

Incorporated as a not for profit, NABCEP is a representative board with the involvement of the solar industry, independent installers, the trades, training organizations, educators, national laboratories, and government. The NABCEP is dedicated to the implementation of appropriate professional standards designed to protect consumers and the profession. NABCEP certificants and candidates are expected to act in an appropriate manner, which promotes the integrity of, and reflects positively on, the practitioner, the NABCEP, and the renewable energy profession, consistent with accepted moral, ethical, and legal standards.

Since April 2001, the (NABCEP) has developed a voluntary national certification program with

Four main goals:

  1. Protect consumers
  2. Promote renewable energy
  3. Provide value to the profession
  4. Promote worker safety

The first step in establishing a certification program is to develop a task or job analysis.
The Solar Photovoltaics (PV) Installer Task Analysis defines knowledge, skills ,and abilities typically required of practitioners who install and maintain PV systems. These include Eight main tasks:

1) Working safely with photovoltaic systems;
2) Conducting a site assessment;
3) Selecting a system design;
4) Adapting the mechanical design;
5) Adapting the electrical design;
6) Installing subsystems and components at the site;
7) Performing a system checkout and inspection;
8) Maintaining and troubleshooting a system.


The NABCEP Certification Process

To qualify to sit for the PV Installer Certification Examination , the candidate must meet at least one of the following minimum requirements:

  • Four (4) years of experience installing PV;
  • Two (2) years of experience installing PV systems in addition to completion of a board-recognized training program;
  • Be an existing licensed contractor in good standing in solar or electrical-construction related areas with one (1) year of experienceinstalling PV systems;
  • Four-year construction or engineering degree from an educational institution, including one (1) year experience installing PV systems.

See for further details on the eligibility requirements.

The NABCEP Examination consists of approximately sixty multiple-choice questions. It is a four-hour exam. The examination is based on the Task Analysis, described above. Exam questions cover fundamental trade knowledge, codes and standards, and accepted industry practice in the context of installation scenarios. The NABCEP has hired an independent testing company for examination development, administration, security, scoring, and psychometric (test validity) services.

Benefits of PV Certification

For installers:
· Identifies installers as professionals, instilling consumer confidence in their work
· Validates extra resources spent on training and gaining experience
· Allows for installer mobility as the market moves from state to state
· Allows installers to distinguish their skills and experience in the field

For consumers:
· Provides a means to identify qualified installers, promoting confidence in the work performed
· Preserves consumer choice, maintaining access to both certified and uncertified installers

North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. Pete Sheehan, Executive Director. Saratoga Technology + Energy Park. 10 Hermes Road, Suite 400, Malta, NY 12020. Phone: (518) 889-8126. Email: Web: