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Novel solar installer training program launched for military veterans

New program, said the be the “first of its kind,” is designed to fill the critical shortage ofelectrical field service technicians.

Cerritos College’s Technology Division, the Advanced Transportation & Renewable Energy (ATRE) sector and True South Renewables, Inc., have launched a novel training program to certify military veterans and other qualified applicants to meet the growing need for electrical field service technicians (EFST).

The five-month college certification program will teach students how to maintain and repair solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and equipment needing general maintenance. Many top solar companies, including True South Renewables -- the largest independent solar operations and maintenance provider in the US -- have jobs waiting for graduates of the program. 

“This is an important initiative to provide military personnel who were electricians in the service with training to receive certification in a high-paying, growing civilian field,” said Rue Phillips, CEO of True South Renewables. “In addition, these graduates are needed. Few outside the solar power industry are aware of the volume of operations and maintenance work required to ensure the optimum performance of large solar fields and photovoltaic systems on commercial and residential rooftops.”

Cerritos College and ATRE, a California Community Colleges workforce program, worked closely with True South Renewables to develop the extensive curriculum for this unique program. Typical job titles for graduates include:

  • Solar O&M Technician
  • Electronics Repair Technician
  • Solar PV Technician
  • Electric Vehicle Service Equipment Technician
  • Solar monitoring equipment Technician
  • Test Equipment Technician
Starting annual salaries can range up to $75,000, according to ATRE.
“We are proud to offer this program to the community, enabling qualified veterans, the unemployed and under-employed to receive training that fills a critical shortage of technicians in the trillion-dollar solar and EV markets,” said Jannet Malig, ATRE regional director based at Cerritos College. “Graduates of the program will be introduced to industry leaders with the expectation that we will achieve 99% job placement for graduating students.”
The EFST program at Cerritos College aims to serve as a pilot for implementing the courses in community colleges throughout California and across the nation. “The EFST program upgrades the skill sets of the workforce necessary to meet the growing employment demands of renewable energy technology firms,” said Peter Davis, statewide director of the ATRE.
Classes start January 12, 2015, at the Cerritos College campus in Norwalk, California; applications are now being accepted. Note: Applicants must be experienced electricians with accumulated service knowledge and skills in the electronics/electrician and IT sectors. Qualified US veterans are being prioritized for entry and will be able to secure financial support upon acceptance.

Upon completion of the program, graduates will be certified within three modules: Solar Inverter Maintenance and Repair, Electrical Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSE) Maintenance and Repair, and Solar and EVSE Related Instrumentation and IT Products. Program graduates will also receive a certificate of achievement in New Product Development from the Chancellor’s office of California Community Colleges. 

Qualified candidates interested in applying for the EFST program should contact Jannet Malig of the ATRE at

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Energy efficiency  •  Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, investment and markets  •  Solar electricity