According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the fastest growing occupation in the US is solar PV installer, with a projected growth rate of 105% from 2016 – 2026. While this fact might not be that surprising to people in the solar power industry, or those who follow it closely, to anyone else it might be startling. Before you found out that solar PV installer is at the top of the fastest growing occupations, at least in the US, what would you have guessed it to be? Know what number two is? It’s wind turbine service technician — so the top two fastest growing occupations in the country are both in renewable energy.
Bill Lawhorn, a BLS analyst with the Employment Projections Program, answered some questions for CleanTechnica about how the bureau figures out what the growth occupations are.
Employment of solar photovoltaic (PV) installers is projected to grow 105% from 2016 to 2026. How did you make this projection? What data did you use, and where did you source it from?
This is information from our website, which describes our approach: Bureau of Labor Statistics projections of industry and occupational employment are developed in a series of six interrelated steps, each of which is based on a different procedure or model and assumptions: labor force, aggregate economy,final demand (GDP) by consuming sector and product, industry output, industry employment, and employment and openings by occupation. The results produced by each step are key inputs to following steps, and the sequence may be repeated multiple times to allow feedback and to ensure consistency. Further detail is presented in the BLS Handbook of Methods.
A wide variety of data sources are used in producing the ten-year projection. Please see our Data Sources described and listed here for more details: https://www.bls.gov/opub/hom/emp/data.htm.
What are some of the other fastest growing occupations and how fast are they growing compared with PV solar installer jobs? For example, is wind power technician number 2? And, how do coal jobs compared with PV solar installer?
A list of the fastest growing occupations can be found in Table 1.3.
Wind turbine technicians are projected to be the second fastest growing occupation over the 2016-26 time period. Although both are projected to grow much faster than other occupations, they are also fairly small occupations and thereby not projected to add many jobs relative to the overall number of jobs added over this time period. Combined they are projected to add fewer than 20,000 jobs from 2016-26.
Coal mining industry employment is projected to decrease by 6.7% from 2016-26. No occupation in the coal mining industry is projected to increase employment over the ten-year window.
Is it possible that the growth rate of PV solar installer jobs increases beyond 105% if there is more and more demand for solar power?
These are long-term projections and changing economic factors can cause actual job growth rates to be higher or lower than projected values. The projections are based on all of the economic information obtained prior to the release of the projections. Increased demand for solar power, changes in tax incentives or cost of materials, and other changes can all come into play as the decade progresses.
Where will employers find the approximately 11,000 new PV solar installers they will need going up to 2026?
The BLS Employment Projections program does not produce this information. We only produce a snapshot of what the labor market is projected to look like in ten years based on what the economy is expected to produce.
Are your occupational projections for 10 years only, or do you go beyond that number?
We currently only make 10-year projections.
When will you make your next PV solar installer job growth projection, after 2026?
Our next projections for the 2018 to 2028 period will be released this fall.
Are there particular parts of the country where there are and will be more PV installers as we go forward or is it sort of obvious that states like California, New Jersey, and Massachusetts are where the most job growth is taking place in solar power?
The BLS does not make state projections. There is a consortium of State Offices of Labor Market Information which do make state and area level projections. Their information can be found at Projections Central.
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