Your Questions About Renewable Energy Certificates

William asks…

What can you do with an Associates in Applied Science?

I will be graduating in the Spring of 2013 with an Associates in Applied Science after changing my major from Radiology to Environmental Science/Renewable & Sustainable Energy. My first intent with this degree was to obtain my bachelors. I contacted a few Universities around the country and each made it clear that the gap between a technical renewable degree is quite different from the more engineer-geared bachelors programs. My future has pretty much vanished. Advice? Thanks.

admin answers:

The term “applied science” has come to be used to mean that a particular program is NOT college but rather a vocational certificate. It sounds like you have learned this the hard way. Many schools offer vocational certificates that they refer to as an associates “degree” in applied science. The student is mislead into thinking they are getting a college degree. I hope the school told you that this was not a true college degree.
College level associates degrees are generally just 2 yr. Liberal arts degrees geared towards meeting the gen ed requirements for transfer to a 4 year university. There is a major difference between the college level program and the vocational program you were in. Thus, the vocational credits will not count as college and will not transfer.

The bottom line here is that you have two choices. You can settle for your vocational certificate that was mislabled as a “degree”, or you can pursue a true college degree by taking college level courses. It likely means that you are essentially starting over, this time taking college classes rather than vocational classes. The job prospects and employment outlook is much better for those with a bachelors degree rather than a vocational certificate. This is especially true in the field of environmental science. It sounds like you just made a wrong turn in choosing a non-college program, but you can correct that by switching to college level next semester.

Steven asks…

what education/certificates do I need to become a solar pv designer?

I want to be involved with solar pv design or R&D. Getting my msee doesn’t seem possible having a bs in environmental science. Are there any other certificates that I could get that would make me attractive to employers for these sorts of positions? Basically, how can I be involved with the solar industry without being a construction worker, salesman, or having an engineering degree?

admin answers:

There’s a few options for you.

San Juan College in NM has a Renewable Energy program, but there may be a waiting list for it. Http://www.sjc.cc.nm.us/pages/4003.asp “The Renewable Energy Program gives the student a solid foundation in the fundamental design/installation techniques required to work with renewable technologies. The concentration in Photovoltaic System Design and Installation is offered as an A.A.S. Degree and or a one-year certificate.”

Many Community Colleges are starting to offer renewable energy programs, you should check out what may be available near you.

IREC is an organization that certifies schools in renewable energy programs, you can see a list of ISPQ certified schools, including some online courses at: http://www.irecusa.org/index.php?id=91

There are several 1 or 2 week classes that can cover the basics to get you started in the industry without years of school. Some are listed in the IREC link above. The AltE Store has some IREC certified classes in Massachusetts that range from 1 – 5 days. Http://www.altestore.com/classes/

We also have some free videos teaching the basics at http://www.altestore.com/store/Books-Classes-Educational-Videos/Educational-Videos/c1138/

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