There are two widely recognized certification programs available within the solar PV industry. Both are offered by not-for-profit industry organizations. These are NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Professionals) and ETA-I (Electronic Technicians Association – International).

Both programs offer high quality industry certifications. The approach is slightly different. NABCEP certification assumes the candidate has been in the industry for a period of time and has been involved in at least three installation projects. The ETA-1 Level 1 certification assumes the candidate is new to the industry and can obtain hands-on experience in a classroom environment. The ETA-I Level 2 certification is for those who have been in the industry for a while and wish to demonstrate supervisory and/or commercial design/installation skills.

We at focus on four of these programs. Our entry level course (Residential Solar Installation & Design) prepares people for the NABCEP Associate exam, the NABCEP Installer exam (PVIP) and the ETA PV Level 1 certification. The NABCEP Associate program is a “Certificate” program rather than a “Certification” – which is a big deal for those who care about these things (for instance the State of Illinois requires that those installing systems be certified, so the NABCEP Associate program does not qualify but the ETA PV Level 1 certification and the PVIP do).

Comparing NABCEP Certification to ETA  Certifications

NABCEP InstallerETA PV Level 1ETA PV Level 2
Experience3 projectsClassroom Hands on2 years, OJT Completed
Training from Accredited School58 hours40 hours60 hours
OSHA Safety Training10 hoursNone10 hours
Customer Service Certification RequiredNoNoYes
Application Fee
$125 – $175
Examination Fee
Re-take Fee
1 free retake
1 free retake
Renewal (Recertification) Fee$290$100$100
Exam Covers:
Initial System Design
Verify System Design
Commercial System Design
Managing the Project
Installing Electrical Components
Installing Mechanical Components
System Installation
Commercial System Installation
A BitA BitYes
Conducting Maintenance
Troubleshooting Activities
YesA BitYes
Certification Term
3 Years4 Years4 Years
Passing Score
Hands on Testing
NoYesJob Task Signoff
Re-certification Education Requirement     
18 hours24 hours32 hours