Renewable energy certification programs give professionals the opportunity to study exactly what they need to work in the renewable energy field. While many degree programs related to environmental science and technology are very broad, renewable energy certification programs allow current professionals to specialize more effectively in the renewable energy niche.
Renewable Energy Professional Certification Programs
Current professionals can find boards, associations, and company programs that will help them get the additional certifications they desire to excel in their fields.
North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners
The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) offers a certification exam for people interested in becoming renewable energy professionals. People that are interested in taking the NABCEP certification exam will have to go through an extensive application process first, which includes application fees. They can apply for one of three certifications, depending upon their desired area of concentration.
- PV Installation Professionals learn about the design of PV (photovoltaic) systems as well as the construction and maintenance of PV systems.
- Solar Heating Installers will learn all about solar heating systems, so they will be that much more proficient at setting them up and keeping them going.
- Studying for the PV Technical Sales credential will help give professionals the tools they need to distribute PV systems, including the knowledge of system design and the financial benefits associated with PV systems.
Applicants have to select a Qualifying Category for their application and exam, which they should choose based on their previous professional experience and education, as outlined by the NABCEP in the Certification Handbook. Once qualified, there is also a fee for the exam. The NABCEP upholds somewhat rigorous standards compared to many other renewable energy certificate programs, which makes it all the more professionally rewarding for applicants that can successfully get through the entire process.
PV System Installer Certification
UL Knowledge Services (ULKS) gives individuals the opportunity to earn a PV System Installer Certification. Before taking the qualifying exam, applicants must finish the requisite OSHA 30-hour construction training period. ULKS also only allows qualified electricians to take the exam since they will have the background necessary to go about installing photovoltaic systems safely. ULKS's PV System Installer Certification exam is three hours long, and the minimum passing score is 75 percent. People that go on to earn this qualification should find it much easier to find jobs working in the solar industry.
Electricians that want to transition to installing PV systems will be able to benefit from earning this credential, since they'll be able to learn about the construction and maintenance of these solar systems, in addition to some broader information about PV technology. Electricians can learn what they need to learn to work on more modern renewable energy systems.
Roof Integrated Solar Energy
The Roof Integrated Solar Energy (RISE) credential can give roofing and PV product manufacturers a tremendous advantage in the market. The process of earning the RISE credential is fairly involved, however: applicants will need to assess their readiness level, find an eligibility track that best suits them, fill out an application and pay a fee, and pass the necessary qualifying exam. Applicants that manage to get through the process will immediately set themselves apart from many of their competitors.
After they earn the necessary credentials through RISE, they will have a high degree of expertise in rooftop solar power. RISE professionals will know all about the initial installation and the subsequent maintenance procedures related to solar panels manufactured on roofs. A great deal of solar panels are set up in this manner and having the related background knowledge can help people that are looking for green jobs.
Association of Energy Engineers
The Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) offers a wide range of professional certification programs with over 25 certifications available. However, regardless of the certification in question, applicants will need to complete their mandatory training periods before taking the relevant exams. Just a sample of the certification programs available through AEE that deal in sustainable, renewable, and green energies include:
- Building Energy & Sustainability Technician (BEST) - Focuses on knowledge of building energy and sustainability
- Certified Green Building Engineer (GBE) - Focuses on "green building, design and construction"
- Renewable Energy Professional (REP) - Focuses on renewable and sustainable energies, projects, and goals for groups
Applicants will need to pass the exam and pay the application fee, at which point the Certification Board will review their files. The Board will make its decision within 60 days. Applicants that have successfully earned their certification will be able to hold onto it for three years, at which point they will have to meet certain renewal requirements, as outlined by the AEE. AEE certification can allow applicants to more or less become experts in renewable energy itself as well as the renewable energy field.
Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) is one of the most famous renewable energy professional certifications available today. To earn the necessary credentials, applicants must be sufficiently familiar with the fundamentals of green building design. There are no eligibility requirements for people that want to become LEED Green Associates, according to LEED, making it relatively easy to get the opportunity to take the exam. LEED certification must be maintained through continuing education hours, which may involve education, volunteer work, or project experience.
LEED professionals will know all about how green buildings are constructed and maintained. They will also understand the ideas at the heart of the sustainable building movement, which can help them become advocates in the future.
School Certificate Programs
Many people today are entering the renewable energy field for the sake of a second career, and these people may be interested in online renewable energy course offerings. Degree Directory has some listings of online universities that offer renewable energy programs. Universities that have physical locations may simply offer online courses for renewable energy certification. Some renewable energy certificate programs require applicants to take certain courses to achieve the qualification while others involve passing certification exams.
Energy Innovation and Emerging Technologies
Stanford University is now offering applicants the chance to earn a professional certificate in the renewable energy field. Students will have to pass four courses that focus on water splitting, solar cells, energy storage, biofuels, smart grid technology, and shale gas, according to the Stanford Center for Professional Development (SCPD).
The SCPD indicates that each online course will cost 195 dollars, and students will have access to these online courses 90 days after they enroll. Otherwise, students can complete the coursework according to their own schedules, according to the SCPD, making the program all the more accessible. The SCPD warns potential applicants that the coursework will be difficult for people that don't already have an established technical background, which is a good rule to keep in mind for all renewable energy certificate programs.
Herzing University's Diploma of Wind Energy Technology
Herzing University's (HU) Diploma of Wind Energy Technology takes around 12 months to complete and requires 38 credit hours. HU's diploma training is somewhat unique in that it also includes hands-on experience. Students will complete academic work before going to a Suzlon training facility for a two-week period to work with wind turbine nacelles as outlined by HU. As such, they will get a sense of the sort of work they'll be doing when they are wind energy professionals.
SEI Solar Professionals Certificate Program
Solar Energy International (SEI) offers a wide range of professional certificate options. Depending on the certificate, applicants will need to take between four and eight courses and pay tuition fees, as outlined by SEI. SEI says that some of their certificate programs require the preliminary completion of the NABCEP Entry Level and PV certification exams, making the application process particularly involved.
Choosing a Renewable Energy Certificate Program
People may be limited in terms of which renewable energy certification programs they can choose since many courses require preliminary training or certificates from schools. Applicants may have to more or less plan a path toward renewable energy certification in advance. However, earning renewable energy certificates is often less expensive and time-consuming than earning other credentials, and renewable energy certifications can be stepping stones to new careers in an expanding field.