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NABCEP Certification - How to get the NABCEP Certification

Looking to get your NABCEP Certification? There are two popular types of Solar Energy Credentials available through NABCEP: NABCEP Associate Program and NABCEP Professional Certification.

Step 1: Decide Which NABCEP Credentials You Need

NABCEP Associate Program

The NABCEP Associate Program is great for those just getting started in the solar industry. The NABCEP Associate Program recognizes individuals who have demonstrated knowledge of the fundamental principles of the application, design, installation and operation of Photovoltaic, Solar Heating or Small Wind energy systems.

NABCEP Professional Certification

The NABCEP Professional Certification is great for solar installers and other solar professionals as a means of showcasing their training and credibility, as well as identifying as a qualified solar professional to customers. The certification breaks down into the NABCEP PV Installation Professional, PV Technical Sales, and/or Solar Heating Installer Certification

The types of available NABCEP Professional Certifications break down to the following four segments:
PV Installation Professional Certification
PV Technical Sales Professional Certification
Solar Heating Installer Certification
Small Wind Installer Certification

In this article we'll go over how to get the NABCEP Professional Certification, specifically how to get the PV Installation Professional Certification.

Step 2: Read the NABCEP Certification Handbook (2018)  

The handbook covers all of the certification timelines, application process, examination, certification and re-certification process.

Here's a summary of the PV Installation Professional Certification requirements, however you should read the handbook if you are serious about applying.

NABCEP PV Installation Professional Certification requirements:

Eligibility Requirements:

Be at least 18 years of age
Meet prerequisites of related experience and/or education as outlined below
Complete an application form documenting requirements
Sign and agree to uphold the NABCEP Code of Ethics
Pay Application and Examination Fees to NABCEP
Pass a written examination
Once certified complete continuing education and experience requirements, submit a re-certification
application, and pay a Re-certification Fee, within the re-certification time-frame

Three Examination Requirements (all must be documented):

1. Complete at least 10 hours of OSHA Outreach Training Program for the Construction Industry training (or state or provincial equivalent)

2. Complete 58 cumulative hours of training as defined in Section 3.5.2 in the NABCEP Certification Handbook (2018)

3. Complete installations equaling at least 6 (2-3 PV installs) Project Credits.

Projects Credits are as follows:
  • System size of 1 – 999kW = 2 Project Credits
  • System size of 1MW and up = 3 Project Credits

For each installation, certificants must upload a permit, final approved inspection and verification of a decision-making role (as described in Section 3.4.3).

For more details on the documentation requirements, refer to the NABCEP Certification Handbook (2018).

Step 3: How to Complete OSHA 10 Certification : OSHA 10 Hour vs OSHA 30 Hour

NOTE: NABCEP strongly recommends the completion of an OSHA 30-Hour Construction Industry course.

OSHA states that “the 10-hour class is intended for entry level workers” and “the 30-hour class is more

appropriate for supervisors or workers with some safety responsibility.” Eighteen (18) of the twenty (20) additional hours of training from a 30-hour OSHA course may be applied to the 58 hours of training that is required for all Qualifying Categories 

How to find OSHA 10 hour or OSHA 30 hour Outreach training?

Since 2014, OSHA has allowed online training. Here a are a few current OSHA-authorized online training providers to complete your OSHA 10 hour or OSHA 30 hour training online:
ClickSafety (also includes Roadway, Cal/OSHA and Spanish)
Summit Training Source
Turner Construction
University of South Florida

Step 4: How to Complete 58 Cumulative Hours of PV Training

40 of the hours must cover “advanced” PV installation and design principles and practices as outlined in the NABCEP PV Installation Professional Job Task Analysis

18 hours (maximum allowed) can be completed by:
passing the NABCEP PV Associate Exam
taking the 30 Hour OSHA training instead of the 10 Hour
completing courses regarding electrical or building codes relevant to the installation of PV systems
taking courses and training that are registered with NABCEP for Continuing Education Credits for the PV Installation Professional Certification
any other classes covering topics included NABCEP PV Installation Professional Job Task Analysis

For more details on how to attain hours needed, refer to the NABCEP Certification Handbook (2018). 

All PV Solar training must be completed in the five (5) calendar years prior to the submission of the application, and the training can be conducted online.

Step 5: How to Apply for NABCEP Certification Exam

To save on $50, submit the application online: NABCEP Online Application

When to apply for NABCEP Certification Exam?

It depends on how you want to take the exam.

Anytime. There are no application or registration deadlines. Once your application is accepted by NABCEP, you can schedule your exam. Wondering where you can take the computer-based NABCEP exam?

Note that NABCEP plans to phase out the paper-and-pencil exam option soon, and it may be phased out in either 2019 or 2020.

The application must be submitted electronically or postmarked at least ten weeks and one day (71 days) prior to the exam date. All information and documents submitted to NABCEP will not be returned. See calendar: 
NABCEP Application Deadlines

How much is the application and exam?
  Electronic Application Fee: $125
  First-time Exam Fee: $375
  Re-exam Fee: $275

Updated 08/21/2018: Original article posted on 5/23/2017