New Jersey ranked fifth in solar jobs nationally in 2015, according to a report released Wednesday by The Solar Foundation.
The state’s solar industry employed 7,071 workers at 1,361 establishments last year, according to the foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that promotes solar energy.
California was first, with 75,598 jobs; Massachusetts second, with 15,095; and Nevada third, with 8,764.
“I’m sure many advocates would say New Jersey continues to ‘need,’ but it’s not doing too bad due to some fairly smart policies in place,” said Andrea Luecke, president and executive director of the foundation.
New Jersey expects to see increases of installed capacity — or the amount of megawatts installed — to 256 megawatts in 2016, which would be a growth of 20 percent, he said.
Luecke said New Jersey’s solar workforce may increase by 728 over the next 12 months.
Ocean County has a total of 418 solar jobs.
Atlantic County has 93 total solar jobs, Cape May County 13 and Cumberland County 12, he said.
With new jobs, the average installer makes $21 an hour, a sales rep makes $28 an hour and solar designers make $26 an hour, he said.
Assembly workers make an average of $18 an hour, he said.
Luecke said a specific educational background is not needed for the jobs and added that workers may not need a high school diploma.
Still, according to the report, the percentage of New Jersey employers who say it difficult to hire for solar jobs (45) is almost twice the national average of 24 percent.
Luecke said experience in the field is often a requirement as well as a deterrent for most job seekers.
“I think it’s actually an opportunity for job seekers if the state is finding difficulty to fill those positions,” Luecke said. “It shows that New Jersey is a good market to go to compete for the jobs.”
As of November, the solar industry employs 208,859 solar workers in the U.S., representing a growth rate of 20 percent since November 2014, according to the report.