Tesla Solar Roof Job Additions Are Just the Beginning

Blue collar work is getting green.

Flickr / jurvetson

On Wednesday, Tesla opened ordering for its highly anticipated solar roof with a competitive price. The roof is made of high-tech tempered glass tiles that hides solar panels in plain site. And Tesla will manage installation of the roofs itself, and is now hiring roofers and solar sales reps all over the country.

The hires are to join existing teams, with 1,762 solar-related positions on the Solar City jobs site on Friday. This doesn’t include the jobs that Tesla has pledged to add to the solar-panel manufacturing Gigafactory underway in Buffalo. The jobs Tesla is creating to complete its solar roof orders are impressive, but only a fraction of the solar industry as a whole. In the next five years, the solar industry is predicted to add 100,000 jobs, making Tesla just the beginning of a change in blue-collar industry.

“The U.S. solar industry currently employs more than 260,000 people,” Morgan Lyons, a communications rep for the Solar Energy Industries Association tells Inverse. “While I can’t predict the exact impact on jobs that Tesla’s solar roof will have, though I assume it will be a net positive, we project that the solar industry as a whole will employ more than 360,000 Americans by 2021.”

Instead of contracting roofers to install the solar roofs, Tesla is hiring and training people to work with the current Solar City team. Right now there is a huge number of open positions directly related to solar installation on the Solar City jobs site. This includes 93 electricians, 50 roofers (plus eight roofing trainers), 39 solar installers, and three carpenters. If you’re a sales rep, there are 1,479 positions all over the country and in multiple languages open.

Once Tesla has worked out the process for producing solar tiles, it is planning on moving the process to the “Gigfactory 2” in Buffalo, where it has pledged to hire 1,500 people to support the overall production of solar tiles.

And although the number of jobs added for Tesla’s solar roofing business seem large, its growth is only a small part in the boom happening in the solar industry. In 2016, the National Solar Jobs Census found that the solar industry grew 17 times faster than other parts of the economy. It continues to grow, with the Solar Energy Industries Association projecting the market to triple in the next five years. Tesla’s solar installers are just the beginning of a boom for blue-collar work in the solar industry, and that’s even cooler than the fact that the Tesla solar tiles can defrost themselves.

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