OREGON LIMITED RENEWABLE ENERGY TECHNICIAN
A Green Job for a Bright Future
2023 Average Wage: $38.20/hour
From Apprentice to Journeyworker
To install solar electric systems in Oregon, workers must hold either a General Journey Worker Electrician's license or a Limited Renewable Energy Technician’s (LRT) license. LRTs specialize in renewable energy systems (solar electric, wind turbines, micro-hydro, and fuel cells) up to 50kW. Most commonly, LRTs install and maintain residential and small commercial PV systems both with and without energy storage.
Earning an LRT license requires completion of an electrical apprenticeship program, governed through state law and administrative rule by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) and sponsored by the RE-JATC. Apprentices must complete 4000 hrs. of on-the-job training (OJT) with a registered training agent along with 288 hrs. of related (online) classroom training through an approved education provider.
What are the steps to becoming an apprentice?
First, you must submit your application along with the requested supporting documentation so the committee can determine if you are eligible to apply. If you are eligible, you will be contacted for an interview; interviews are held quarterly. Keep in mind, this is not a job interview. This is an interview to determine if you are a good fit for the program. Your score on the interview, combined with your score on your application materials, will determine your ranking in the pool of qualified applicants for the regions you selected to work in. Only the highest ranking applicants for a given region will be able to interview for an apprentice position once a registered training agent is ready to hire on a new apprentice. Should you be hired on, this is the point at which you would become a registered apprentice and begin the program. What this means is that this is a very competitive program which requires both patience and diligence!
How are eligible applicants scored?
Here's a summary of how applicants are scored. Please keep in mind that this is a highly competitive program and only applicants who score in the top tier will have an opportunity to enter the program.:
High school / GED : up to 5 points depending on GPA (need to provide transcripts)
College or trade school: up to 5 points depending on graduation and courses completed (need to provide transcripts)
Related renewable energy training programs: up to 15 points (need to provide certificates of completion)
Proof of employment: up to 25 points; 2 pts. per month for trades-related work / 1 pt. per month for any employment (need to provide letters of recommendation with dates of employment from employers on company letterhead)
Interview with committee: up to 50 points (interviews are held quarterly)
What is like to be a solar installer?
Well, it's very physically demanding work that will leave you exhausted at the end of the day, but it is also incredibly rewarding! Plan on going up and down a ladder all day, squatting on sloped roof surfaces high above ground, working on high voltage DC electrical circuits that require the utmost attention to safety and detail, exposed to the rain and the wind and the sun. You'll be in attics and crawl spaces, digging trenches, and enjoying sunrises and sunsets from rooftops!
Do I need to become an LRT apprentice to work in the Oregon solar industry?
Not necessarily! There are many jobs in the solar industry which do not require a trades license- for example site surveyor, technical salesperson, PV system designer, or solar racking technician. Only individuals performing electrical work must complete an electrical apprenticeship program. Getting an entry-level non-licensed job is actually a great way to get started in the industry- you'll start to gain some experience while working to improve your ranking in the pool of qualified applicants for the apprenticeship program.
To explore the many career options in the solar industry, visit: https://www.oseia.org/workforce/sectors