(WACO, Texas) – Juvencio Perez, of Waco, is glad to be working in a growing field without leaving Central Texas.
Perez graduated in 2022 from Texas State Technical College with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Solar Energy Technology. Within a few weeks after graduating, he began work early last fall as a solar technician at ENGIE North America’s solar field in Abbott.
“I go into work and learn something every day,” Perez said. “I have to learn about substations, how to troubleshoot, what they do, and also the solar panels and trackers.”
Perez said he is motivated to wake up each day for work because of the money he is making in the solar industry and the desire to support himself and his family.
Perez said his typical workday involves getting to the solar farm at 7 a.m., followed by a daily meeting focusing on what equipment needs to be troubleshooted and repaired. If there are issues that the staff cannot fix, Perez said the company that makes the solar farm’s inverters and trackers is notified.
“I then have lunch and we have another meeting at 1 p.m.,” he said. “Then if there are any more problems, we go out and fix what we can. If we do not have anything that has failed, we look at blueprints and see what we can learn. My shift ends between 3 and 4 p.m. It is a lot of outdoor work.”
Perez grew up in Waco and is a graduate of Connally High School, where he was on the soccer team.
Perez knew in high school that he wanted to attend TSTC but originally had another technical program in mind. His older sister, Marlisa Perez, is a graduate of TSTC’s Avionics Technology program.
“I looked at other programs and did research, and that is when I knew the future is renewables,” he said. “I applied and got in (to TSTC.)”
Perez said he enjoyed learning about how solar panels work and safely working with high-voltage electricity.
“TSTC was both fun and very stressful,” he said. “I stuck with it and met some amazing classmates I still communicate with. Overall, it was fun.”
About a week after Perez graduated, he received a text message from TSTC’s Career Services department inquiring about his job hunt. As he was applying at area solar farms, Perez was learning from Career Services staff about how to write an eye-catching resume, along with interview skills and proper attire.
“I only had one interview (with ENGIE North America), and I got the job,” Perez said.
Solar thermal installers and technicians in Texas make an average yearly median salary of more than $48,000, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s O*Net Online website. There will be a need for more than 52,200 solar thermal installers and technicians in the state in 2030, according to the website.
“I feel the potential of how far a student can progress in the field is up to the students’ ‘want to’ as the field is just really getting started and the demand for workers at all levels of the solar industry is unbelievable,” said Darin Timmons, an instructional business manager for the Energy Efficiency Specialist, Electrical Construction, and Solar Energy Technology programs at TSTC.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Solar Energy Technology and a certificate of completion in Energy Efficiency Specialist at the Waco campus.
For more information on TSTC, go to tstc.edu.