America’s military veterans have the leadership qualities and talent we need to move the clean energy economy forward. Nonetheless, when the time comes to leave the service, transitioning to any new career presents a challenge for many service members. To help them build the skills they need to gain employment in a quickly growing U.S. solar market, the Energy Department today announced a new solar job training pilot program at three military bases — Camp Pendleton, Fort Carson and Naval Station Norfolk.

Through SunShot’s Solar Instructor Training Network and in partnership with the Department of Defense’s Skillbridge initiative, the pilot program provides participating military service members at each of the selected three bases with four to six weeks of intensive solar training courses at no cost. Participants will learn how to size and install solar energy systems and develop other related solar job skills. Additionally, to speed their transition into the solar workforce, five prominent U.S. solar companies have already committed to interview all graduates for jobs—a commitment that could result in as many as 120 new hires.

Since 2008, the Solar Instructor Training Network has supported the training of photovoltaic installers, sales representatives, building inspectors and other solar workers through more than 400 community colleges in 49 states. To date, more than 30,000 students have received training to enter the solar workforce on the way to our goal to train 50,000 students by 2020. This new solar training pilot program is the first Energy Department effort that specifically focuses on service members transitioning to the solar workforce.

With about 17,000 veterans already employed by solar companies, the industry is expected to be an important source of well-paying, highly skilled jobs for veterans in the future. The solar industry has seen steady and rising employment, up about 86% since November 2010. In 2014, employment rose nearly 22% and created one out of 78 new jobs in the United States. Projections suggest that solar might add as many as 36,000 new jobs in the next 12 months, with competitive pay for installers averaging from $20 to $24 per hour. If SunShot and the solar industry achieve the 2020 goal of cost-competitive solar energy throughout the United States, it could mean the creation of 290,000 new solar jobs by 2030.

As solar deployment continues to soar, this industry represents an exciting opportunity for the nearly 190,000 veterans transitioning to the private sector every year. Learn more about SunShot’s efforts to build the skilled solar workforce of the future.