In 2016, when Tesla first announced its plans for a Solar Roof project, interest was high until not much happened after the announcement. But in 2020, things started rolling with Tesla chairman Elon Musk announcing that the company was looking for installers for the product and specified that applicants needed no experience.
This would imply that if you want to learn how to install Tesla solar products, all you have to do is apply, and you would receive on-the-job training. Read on to find out all you need to know about Tesla’s solar training.
On-the-Job Tesla Solar Training
There is no how-to book you can pick up to learn this installation process. Much of Tesla’s Solar Roof is proprietary or new enough that not everyone knows the ins and outs yet. So there are no easy-to-complete shortcuts to this education.
Musk has been quoted many times saying of the company’s solar product, “It’s not a thing on the roof, it is the roof.” That is a brand new idea in the solar panel world, so it follows that the process of installing them is a new one, too.
- Installing Tesla’s solar system either onto an existing home or as part of new construction, then, is a new process, and what better way to learn something than from the beginning?
- The on-the-job training is currently available in 17 states.
- Musk promised eventual international expansion, which might lead one to assume that all 50 states might have access to on-the-job training at some point.
To get a look at what this training will prepare you to do, check out this fascinating time-lapse of a four-day Solar Roof installation.
Training through Your Current Employer
When Tesla announced its big ramp-up in the production of the Solar Roof tiles, it did not have enough installers in place to keep pace with the production. That is one reason Musk made his announcement proclaiming that no experience was needed—the company needed bodies and would turn them into installers.
But the company also reached out to third-party companies in order to partner with them to get the roofs built around the country.
- An existing roofing company can now join the Tesla team and become certified to install the product.
- As a result, if you already work for one of these companies, you are on track to learn this installation.
- Alternatively, finding a certified Tesla Solar Roof installer and hiring on with them would get you the training you would need, and it will likely be the same on-the-job sort as Musk announced earlier.
This gives you multiple opportunities for gaining the proper training to get certified.
Tesla’s START Program
A third option is both a more comprehensive approach and a less-specific one. Tesla offers its START for potential installers to learn all about Tesla’s electric vehicles. The training promises familiarity with all Tesla products, which includes the Solar Roof, necessary inverters, and the Powerwall home battery.
Offered mainly at participating community colleges, the program is a 12-week capstone in which students earn 15 credit hours and are advertised to come out knowing all things Tesla. A potential Solar Roof installer who had this knowledge would certainly have a leg up when it came to taking on a job with a company installing Tesla roofs.
Requirements for this program include, among others:
- High-school diploma or GED
- Vocational training in automotive education
- Maintaining a B average throughout the program
- Willingness to relocate
Considering that a Tesla Solar Roof installer can make upwards of $70,000 (although the average income for a solar panel installer is closer to $50,000), these requirements—as well as any for the other methods of learning the process—seem like part of a fair deal.
Whichever method you choose to learn the trade, there are states that require specific licenses for roofers and for solar installers. The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners is a license you could obtain for certification. The roofing company you work for will more than likely be familiar with licensing requirements.
Whichever method a Solar Roof installer chooses to learn his craft, there are certain qualities one needs to be able to succeed in the training and in the actual work one has trained for. You must:
- Be comfortable with heights
- Have general construction or mechanical skills
- Be able to follow instructions
- Be physically fit
After all, you can know all things solar, but if you are, say, physically unfit for the job, it all comes to nothing.
These are not surprising needs for the Solar Roof installer, and chances are, if none of these apply to you, you are not likely interested in learning this craft in the first place. Still, these are rudimentary qualifications, and without them, at best, you will not succeed, and at worst, you could be injured or worse.
People have varying discomforts with heights, but even if you are the kind of person who merely feels a little jittery when looking over a ledge, roof work may not be for you.
As a Solar Roof installer, you will spend a large majority of your workday 10 to 20 feet off the ground. And if you are working on a two-story home, higher than that. If this is the sort of perch that gives you pause, this may not be the career path for you.
Construction Skill and Experience
Installing a Solar Roof is—at least at present—an unusual construction project in that, not every roofer has done it. But it is still a construction-adjacent process, and if you have no knowledge of how construction projects are executed, you will be out of your depth on a Solar Roof project.
There are procedures observed on every construction job, and there are tools every builder and roofer must know how to use. Without familiarity with all of it, a potential Solar Roof installer will be ripe for failure in that position. Again, failure in roofing can be catastrophic—for the homeowner and the roofer alike.
If you are installing a Solar Roof, just like anything else, you will have steps that need to be taken in a specific order. Inability to follow directions would render you unfit for this position.
Further, if you are learning on the job, as is Tesla’s plan for you, you are not simply reading the instructions on the back of the box of roofing tiles. You will be taking instruction from an experienced and knowledgeable installer of the product. If you are one of those people who cannot take instruction, this is not the job for you.
Health and Fitness
As mentioned above, you will spend a lot of time on the roof. But you will have to climb up there, and more than a few times a day. Relatively good physical fitness is a must, as you will be scrambling up and down ladders all of your workdays, and you will not be doing so empty-handed. At many points during the project, materials need moving.
You will need to be comfortable lifting up to 75 pounds on a regular basis, as the boxes of roofing tiles will be delivered to the site, but the installers themselves must move those boxes up to the roof.
A roof installation project also involves a great deal of bending and kneeling, so chronic knee- or back-injury sufferers will not be well-suited to this work environment.
Is Tesla Solar Profitable?
Before anyone installs any kind of solar panels, they need to know about the costs. However, determining whether installing a Tesla Solar Roof will be worth the investment or if it will even be profitable is not an easy thing to determine, although there is one glaring exception.
If you are not building a new roof or installing a replacement roof, then it is most assuredly more cost-effective to install solar panels on top of your existing roof. Because the Tesla Solar Roof is itself the roof and not an addendum to the roof, replacing your perfectly functioning shingle roof would be wasteful.
But if you are building a new home or are at that point when it is time to replace your roof, things get a little cloudier. Depending on whom you ask, you can deduce that a Tesla Solar Roof is going to cost you somewhere around $20 per square foot. That is wildly more expensive than shingles and higher than solar panels, too.
But over time, your investment can be recouped.
- First, your average shingle roof needs to be replaced every 20 years or so. But that is average. There are people in hail-prone midwestern states forced to do so every two or three years. Plus, those shingles will not power your washing machine or charge your phone.
- The Tesla Solar Roof will offset, if not eliminate, your utility costs for powering your home. This roof will cost roughly twice what a shingle roof would but will provide savings.
You will need to assess what you pay monthly for utilities and the actual cost of a Solar Roof for your home to learn how soon you can recoup your investment.