So you want to become a solar contractor? Contrary to popular belief, you cannot take a 40-hour course and legally go out and safely install solar. There are steps one must take (the requirements vary from state to state) to be licensed with the authority to install, maintain, and repair solar hot water systems, solar pool heating systems and photovoltaic systems in residential, commercial, and industrial facilities for compensation. This article will discuss becoming a solar contractor in Florida, specifically.
In the state of Florida, certification (licensure) for solar contractors is required by anyone who installs, alters, repairs, maintains, relocates, or replaces any type of solar thermal or PV systems. Florida Statute requires a qualifier to qualify the contractor. This can be the owner or anyone else employed by the contractor. The other individuals employed by the contractor are not required to be licensed. In the state of Florida, solar exams are only given three times a year in February, June, and October. The dates and locations of the examinations can be found here.
There are certain requirements and pre-requisites to be eligible for solar contractor licensure by examination and they include:
- Being at least 18 years of age
- Being of good moral character
- One must meet eligibility requirements according to one of the following criteria:
- Has received a baccalaureate degree from an accredited 4-year college in the appropriate field of engineering, architecture, or building construction and has 1 year of proven experience in the category in which the person seeks to qualify. For the purpose of this part, a minimum of 2,000 person-hours shall be used in determining full-time equivalency.
- Has a total of at least 4 years of active experience as a worker who has learned the trade by serving an apprenticeship as a skilled worker who is able to command the rate of a mechanic in the particular trade or as a foreman who is in charge of a group of workers and usually is responsible to a superintendent or a contractor or his or her equivalent, provided, however, that at least 1 year of active experience shall be as a foreman.
- Has a combination of not less than 1 year of experience as a foreman and not less than 3 years of credits for any accredited college-level courses; has a combination of not less than 1 year of experience as a skilled worker, 1 year of experience as a foreman, and not less than 2 years of credits for any accredited college-level courses; or has a combination of not less than 2 years of experience as a skilled worker, 1 year of experience as a foreman, and not less than 1 year of credits for any accredited college-level courses. (All junior college or community college-level courses shall be considered accredited college-level courses).
Florida Statute requires that individuals must sign up to take the examination 30 days prior to the examination date. The first step toward licensure is to take an examination on the trade portion (solar installation) and the second step is to take an examination on business and finance. You have two years after the first scheduled examination date to pass all parts of the examination.
Once you have passed all parts of the examination, you can obtain and complete a Construction Industry Licensing Board (CILB) application for license. You will not be granted a license if you do not meet all the qualifications, even if you pass the examination. You can access license application forms and instructions here.
We hope this helps answers many of the questions we get each day. Many people just don’t realize how involved solar electricity is and what it truly means to be a licensed solar contractor. US Solar Institute courses are taught by licensed solar contractors and we’re here to guide you each step of the way.
Source: Florida Solar Energy Industries Association (FLASEIA)
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