How Long It Takes to Qualify for the NABCEP Certification Exams

Thu, 2017-11-02 14:57

Last Updated: 2017-12-27 03:33

If you want to become a certified solar installer, you should allot at least 3 months of preparation to satisfy the Training & Work Experience requirements listed by NABCEP. Whether you are new to solar or an experienced solar-industry worker, there are specific eligibility requirements that all NABCEP exam candidates must meet.

Who is NABCEP?

NABCEP stands for the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, and this is a nonprofit organization that develops professional certification programs for solar energy professionals.


NABCEP writes and manages the technical standards and eligibility requirements for several certification exams. The two most popular exams are:

  • NABCEP PV Associate
  • NABCEP PV Installation Professional

The NABCEP Associate program recognizes individuals who have demonstrated knowledge of the fundamental principles of the application, design, installation, and operation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.

The NABCEP PV Installation Professional Certification enables solar installation professionals to stand out from their competition using a designation that denotes quality and expertise.

How to Qualify for NABCEP PV Associate

There are two pathways to qualifying for the NABCEP PV Associate exam:

  • Complete training from a NABCEP Registered Associate Provider (such as Everblue)
  • Document at least 6 months of full time equivalent work experience in a job that is directly involved with solar electric energy

At Everblue, we offer a 40-hour online program called NABCEP PV Associate Exam. This self-paced webinar program aligns perfectly with the NABCEP PV Associate Learning Objectives and has yielded a 90% pass rate for exam candidates since its debut in 2010.

Expected Prep Time: 18 hours

Expected Fees: $749

    • $599 for the NABCEP PV Associate training
    • $150 for the NABCEP PV Associate exam

How to Qualify for NABCEP PV Installation Professional

According to the NABCEP Certification Handbook, there are several ways that an individual can qualify to sit for the NABCEP PV Installation Professional exam.

Boiled down to the lowest common denominator, the most straightforward pathway includes the following requirements:


  • Participate in a minimum of 58 hours of solar PV training
  • 40 of the 58 hours must cover advanced solar PV installation/design concepts
  • remaining 18 hours can come from the entry-level Associate coursework IF the candidate passes the NABCEP PV Associate exam
  • Obtain an OSHA 10 Construction Safety card

Work Experience

  • Complete solar installations equaling at least 6 Project Credits

As you can see, there are eligibility requirements that fall under a Training umbrella and eligibility requirements that fall under a Work Experience umbrella.

At Everblue, we offer NABCEP-approved solar training that satisfies the Training requirements. To get started on these requirements, the best training package to consider is the NABCEP PV Installation Prep Course. This program offers 100+ hours of solar training that will instantly qualify candidates for the NABCEP PV Associate exam and provide advanced solar installation/design training and OSHA 10 online training.

To satisfy the Work Experience requirements, we recommend that candidates volunteer with GRID Alternatives or seek apprenticeship opportunities.

Expected Prep Time: 468 hours (equal to approx. 12 weeks or 3 months)

  • Training: 58 hours of solar training + 10 hours of OSHA safety training
  • Work Experience: The time it takes to work on a solar installation project will vary. You can expect to devote an average of 80 hours (2 full-time work weeks) for a residential solar panel installation project. If you need to complete 5 installations, this may result in 400 hours of work experience, or 10 full-time work weeks. With regard to Project Credits, you can earn 2 Project Credits for PV systems sized 1-999 kW. You can earn 3 Project Credits for PV systems sized 1 mW and up.

Again, the time it takes someone to work on a solar installation project will vary and will be dependent upon whether the individual is already employed in the solar industry. 2-3 months is an optimistic estimate.

It may be quicker for solar installers already working in this industry to satisfy the Work Experience requirement, compared to an individual transitioning into this industry.

The GRID Alternatives Team Leader program is specifically designed to help NABCEP exam candidates satisfy the Work Experience requirement and would offer one of the best opportunities to gain this experience.

About the NABCEP Certification Exams

Please note that the NABCEP PV Associate exam is available year-round through Castle Worldwide testing centers.

The advanced NABCEP PV Installation Professional exam, on the other hand, is only administered twice per year – once in the Fall and once in the Spring.

Act Now! Start Training & Meet the February 2018 Requirement

NABCEP has three important deadlines for NABCEP PV Installation Professional exam candidates.

February 2, 2018: Application deadline, showing you’ve satisfied the Training & Work Experience requirements

March 9, 2018: Exam scheduling deadline, reserving your testing appointment

April 21, 2018: Exam date

Given that many individuals prepare for and take the NABCEP PV Associate exam first, in order to qualify later for the NABCEP PV Installation Professional exam, we must factor those 40 hours into our overall expected prep time.

For someone new to the solar industry, then, you should anticipate spending at least 3 months preparing for the first-tier and second-tier NABCEP Certification exams.

Since the application deadline for the NABCEP PV Installation Professional exam is roughly 3 months away, NOW is the perfect time to start training. Time is running out if you think that you’re going to complete all of the training, testing, and work experience requirements before Feb. 2, 2018.

Start Now: Register for Everblue’s NABCEP PV Installer package, which contains pre-approved Training hours for the PV Associate and PV Installation Professional exams.