NABCEP Certification News

The final goal of learning all of this information is probably for you to know how to install a photovoltaic system either at your own home or professionally for others.  For those who wish to make solar panel installation a business, you should consider getting certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).  According to its own literature, since its conception in 2003, NABCEP has certified hundreds of solar panel installers around the country.  (if you’re reading closely, you’ll realize just how much opportunity to make money exists in an industry with only a handful of licensed practitioners in each state!  Indeed, at least in California, solar panel installers were recently predicted to be one of the five highest demand jobs over the coming decade.)

In order to ensure the quality of certified installers, sitting for the NABCEP exam is not so simple as signing up for the exam and taking it.  They require either experience, education, or a combination of the two.  For a complete listing of requirements, visit NABCEP’s PV Installer Certification Handbook (PDF).  For those who think that the above requirements are above and beyond their interests, NABCEP also offers an entry level certificate of knowledge for PV(PDF), and offers certification in solar thermal systems and small wind systems.

If you are going to aim for certification, here are the resources that NABCEP recommends to prepare for the exam:

1.  2005 Code of Federal Regulations, Chapter 29 Part 1926 – Safety and Health Regulations for
Construction.  U.S. Department of Labor/OSHA, OSHA Publications, P.O. Box 37535,
Washington, D.C. 20013-7535
2.  2008 National Electrical Code®, NFPA 70, national Fire Protection Association, 1 Batterymarch
Park, Quincy, MA 02269 (2005 National Electrical Code Handbook ® is an acceptable substitute)

3.  Photovoltaic Systems, National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee, Published by
American Technical Publishers, Inc. Homewood, IL 60430-4600, 2007.
4.  A Guide to Photovoltaic System Design and Installation, California Energy Commission Consultant Report 500-01-020, June 2001
5.  Working Safely with Photovoltaic Systems.  Sandia National Laboratories, Photovoltaic Systems Assistance  Center, Albuquerque, NM 87185-0753.
6.  Stand-Alone Photovoltaic Systems: A Handbook of Recommended Design Practices, Sandia National Laboratories and the Southwest Technology Development Institute (SAND87-7023), Albuquerque, NM 87185-0753.Updated January, 1995. (Print version no longer distributed –
available by download only)
7.  Battery Service Manual, 12th  Edition. Battery Council International, 401 North Michigan Avenue,
Chicago, IL, 60611

8.  Photovoltaic Systems Engineering, Roger A. Messenger and Gerard G. Ventre, (2ND Edition) CRC Press, 2004, ISBN: 8493-1793-2
9.  One and Two Family Dwelling Electrical Systems, (5th  Edition)  J. Philip Simmons, International Association of Electrical Inspectors, Richardson, TX, 2002.

10.  Hybrid Power Systems: Issues and Answers.  Sandia National Laboratories, Photovoltaic Systems Assistance Center, Albuquerque, NM 87185-0753

The cost to sit for the exam is $250, which includes a $50 application fee, and  $200 exam fee once your application is processed.  Your certification will last for three years, at which time, your can sit for a recertification exam for an additional $200 and fulfilling continuing education or practical installation experience requirements.

For more information about the certification process, visit NABCEP’s Website.

12 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    gail easter said,

    I am having a very hard time finding technical schools that offer courses leading to pv installer certification. I live in Pa. and would prefer East Coast but can be flexible. Where did you sign up? Any help is greatly appreciated!

  2. 3

    solarious said,

    Here are a couple of resources for you:

    Solar Living runs courses throughout the year. Their next PV class is full, but contact them for future offerings. They also sponsor a green career fair in early November at UC Berkeley, which is worth checking out. Links below:

    Sun Pirate Solar
    17 week online course, uses the SEI book (which is an excellent resource with a companion DVD)
    online solar course with certificate of completion from PA Solar. I don’t think it costs anything, but probably isn’t specifically oriented toward certification either. Specific to PA industry.

    The above link has a list of NABCEP-approved providers for the solar installer certification. Though none in PA are listed, you can contact the listed providers for more information on programs in your area. Also check out SEI (Solar Energy International) at, which runs classes and workshops in different locations around the country. I take the PV course at East Los Angeles Skills and Education center, which is excellent, but probably would not be ideal for a traveling situation, as it meets once a week for many weeks. There is a similar course at the East Los Angeles Skills Center which is more concentrated time-wise, but there has been a waiting list in the past… contact for more details.

    There are many school districts which are considering adding renewable energy courses to their adult education offerings. If you contact your local school board enough, they may look into adding a course. If so, steer them in the direction of NABCEP’s website so that they can become an approved trainer for the certification. Best of luck, and I’ll be happy to answer any additional questions you have.

  3. 4

    vesna said,

    Interested in solar panal instalation courses in chicago,il or close by.

  4. 5

    claudiu ciogolas said,

    I`m interestied in taking in solar panal instalation courses in Chicago,IL.I apreciate your help.Thank You

    • 6

      solarious said,

      Hello, I will soon be updating the solar power class page with a listing of places offering classes around the country. I will be sure to research some in the Chicago area for you to pursue. Thank you for stopping by!

  5. 7

    Roger E. said,

    Need to find SPI cert. classes in central Texas. So far through my research Texas is lagging far behind the other big states. Looking for a class in San Antonio or Austin, had no luck so far. Is there a site that has this info.
    Thanks a bunch,

    • 8

      kevin said,

      there is a one week class in austin. it is called imagine solar.
      i took the course. it was a lot of info in a short time, but i did pass (barely) the nabcep entry test given on the last day of class.
      good luck

  6. 9

    kevin said,

    ive been in commercial / industrial roofing and sheet metal since before i was out of h/s and solar energy just seems like a great fit considering the economy and jobs available . just as another poster said i stumbled on this pg when i was looking for the classes available but since im in ohio i havent had much luck finding any close to me . i would like to know just where i can go for training and certification to gte in this area of work

  7. 10

    Tracy said,

    Like someone else said earlier on this blog, I am trying to find a class that would be recognized by NABCEP for the certification. I will contact NABCEP but am wondering why it seems to be so difficult. We are in the Balto., DC area. Any ideas?

  8. 11

    John said,

    How do you make the claim that NABCEP is a license while in fact it is NOT. In your second paragraph you are misleading people that this is a
    Iicense. The NEC which many jurisdictions use as a requirement to install electrical work, section 690 covers Solar PV. Licensed Electrical Contractors are licensed to pull permits for a solar PV Job, NOT a NABCEP “certified installer”

    • 12

      solarious said,

      Thanks for your clarification John. My intent was never to mislead people about that, so I’ve updated the post to more clearly state that this is a certification rather than license.

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