Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to your questions about NABCEP's Credentials & Board Certifications.
NABCEP Certifications FAQ NABCEP BOARD CERTIFICATIONS

Frequently Asked Questions

We’re here to help! Take a look below for some common questions.

If you don’t find the answer, check out the NABCEP Certification Handbook, the NABCEP Associate Handbook or email us at info@nabcep.org.

General

What is NABCEP?

The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP®) offers voluntary personnel certification for beginners and professionals in the renewable energy industry. NABCEP’s Board Certifications include: NABCEP PV Installation Professional® (PVIP), NABCEP Solar Heating Installer® (SHI), NABCEP PV Technical Sales Professional® (PVTS), NABCEP PV System Inspector™ (PVSI), NABCEP Solar Heating System Inspector™ (SHSI), and three (3) PV Specialist Certifications: PV Design Specialist™ (PVDS), PV Installer Specialist™ (PVIS), and PV Commissioning & Maintenance Specialist™ (PVCMS).  NABCEP’s Associate Credentials include: PV Associate (PVA), Solar Heating Associate (SHA), and Small Wind Associate (SWA).

What is Certification?

Certification — a procedure by which an independent third-party gives written assurance that a professional conforms to specified standards, usually by holding professionals in a particular field to a set of requirements including a written examination. As a result of meeting the requirements and passing the exam, professionals receive a certificate, which they can display publicly to witness their proficiency.

Certification assures the public, employers and practitioners that a certified professional possesses the skills and knowledge necessary to competently carry out the work processes of a specific field as outlined in the relevant Job Task Analysis (JTA), and that they are committed to continued professional training and education as well as adherence to ethical practices.

What is NABCEP Board Certification?

NABCEP Board Certification is formal recognition that an individual has proficiency within, and a comprehension of, a specified body of knowledge. It is peer recognition, not registration or licensure.

Why become certified?

Competition is everywhere, and there is a need for skilled individuals in the Renewable Energy industry. Certification is a mark of  excellence and offers the public a high degree of protection because practitioners have to voluntarily meet standards and  qualifications and pass an exam. It demonstrates that the certified individual has the knowledge to assure quality of products and  services. Earning a NABCEP Board Certification is an investment in your career and in the future of your employer.

How do I earn a NABCEP Board Certification?

To obtain a NABCEP Board Certification, you must first meet the eligibility requirements outlined on the website and detailed in the NABCEP Certification Handbook. Then you must pass a rigorous exam.

Which Board Certification should I get?

We receive many calls and emails regarding choosing the right certification. This is purely an individual choice, based on your unique career path and goals. To give you some ideas on how to proceed, use the Certification Career Map as a guide for which path to follow.

What’s the difference between a NABCEP Associate Credential and a NABCEP Board Certification?

The NABCEP Associate Credential is an entry level credential and is intended for people who are new to the renewable energy industry or are currently working in, or seeking employment in, the renewable energy industry, including those who are: students in renewable energy programs or workers in the early stage of their renewable energy career.

The NABCEP Board Certification is a professional certification and is intended for people who are already in the renewable energy industry, including those who are students in renewable energy programs or workers at an early stage in their renewable energy career.

How do I open a NABCEP account?

To open an account on the myNABCEP portal:

1.  Go to my.nabcep.org and click on “Create Candidate Account”
2.  Enter information required and click submit.
3.  An email will be automatically sent from NABCEP with a temporary password for your account.
4.  Once you receive your temporary password, log in to your account, change your password and begin an application.

NOTE: All NABCEP notifications are sent via email from myNABCEP using mynabcep@nabcep.org. Please add mynabcep@nabcep.org and any addresses sent from @nabcep.org to your “safe senders” list or firewall to ensure delivery.

What are requirements for NABCEP Board Certification?

Each NABCEP Board Certification has specific requirements in order to be approved to sit for the certification exam. The NABCEP Certification Handbook contains detailed information on each certification and their respective requirements.

What is the Certification Period?

NABCEP Board Certifications and Associate Credentials are valid for three (3) years from the date of issuance. You will need to meet the requirements for recertification by the end of each three-year period in order to be eligible to recertify or renew your certification or credential.

Where can I take the exam?

For all certifications, with the exception of the PV System Inspector and Solar Heating System Inspector exams, your exam will occur at one of Castle Worldwide, Inc.’s testing facilities. To review the list of testing sites, please click here.

For the PV System Inspector and Solar Heating System Inspector exams, you can schedule your exam in a live online proctored (LOP) environment through Castle Worldwide, Inc.

What do I do after I pass my NABCEP Board Certification Exam?

You may refer to yourself as a NABCEP Board Certified Professional, although your certificate package can take 2-4 weeks to arrive in the mail. (International mail can take 8 weeks or more for delivery depending on the country.) You will also receive an email from Credly with instructions to download your digital badge, which can be added to your website, email signature, and anywhere else you would want industry professionals and customers to see your digital badge profile.

You can also start making plans for maintaining your certification by familiarizing yourself with the recertification requirements for your Board Certification. More details on the recertification requirements can be found within the NABCEP Certification Handbook.

I'm a Consumer or system owner. Where can I find information?

Please visit the PV Consumer Guide page of our website.

Applying for NABCEP Exams

How do I apply for a Board Certification exam?

You may apply for a NABCEP Board Certification exam by completing an application in your myNABCEP account and submitting it to NABCEP for review.  Once it is approved, you may schedule your exam.

How do I apply for an Associate exam?

There are three pathways to obtaining a NABCEP Associate credential:

  • Education Pathway — Successfully complete a photovoltaics, solar heating, or small wind training course with a NABCEP Registered Associate Provider, and pass the relevant NABCEP Associate Examination. Click here to find a class.
  • Experience Pathway — Document at least 6 months of full-time equivalent work experience in a job that is directly involved with photovoltaics, solar heating, or small wind technologies, complete an application in your account, schedule and take the relevant NABCEP Associate Examination. Click here to start your application.
  • NABCEP Entry Level Conversion Pathway — You already received a NABCEP Entry Level Achievement Award for photovoltaics or solar heating, and pay a small conversion fee. If the award was earned more than three years ago, documentation of at least 12 hours of continuing education within the last three years will also be required. Click here to start your application.

Do I need to have my NABCEP PV Associate to apply for a Board Certification?

No. No one credential or certification serves as a prerequisite for another.

What is the application process like?

NABCEP recommends that you read the NABCEP Certification Handbook before starting an application. Once you have read the Certification Handbook and understand the requirements, there are several steps between when you start an application and when you take the exam.

1. Fulfill Eligibility Criteria

NABCEP’s Board Certifications require you to meet experience requirements and advanced training requirements before you can take the exams. You will need to provide us with the details of your experience and training, so we recommend that you gather and prepare this information before you open the application.

To find out the eligibility requirements, consult the NABCEP Certification Handbook for the Board Certification that interests you. Each one has unique eligibility requirements.

2. Complete Application

Once you’ve determined you meet the eligibility requirements, it’s time to apply. Collect the following information and then use our online application portal to guide you through the application process.

Contact information — email, address, phone number, date of birth
Experience — details of the projects you’ve worked on including the address, date of installation, proof of a decision-making role, organization details, permits, final approved inspections, and any other required documentation based on the particular Board Certification
Advanced Training — course completion documents for courses attended, training provider information, verification of the length of the course, completion date
OSHA — course completion documents for either OSHA 10-Hour Training for Construction or OSHA 30-Hour Training for Construction

Once you open an application, it will remain active for 2 years, after which time it will expire.

Tip: To complete the application quickly, gather all of the information and documentation you need before opening it. Otherwise, it might take you multiple sessions to complete your application.

3. Application Review

Once you submit your application, we will review it to verify that you meet the eligibility requirements and that your experience and training is valid and consistent with the guidelines stated in the NABCEP Certification Handbook.

Although the volume of applications can vary greatly throughout the year, NABCEP staff will typically be able to review your application within 5–10 business days, although it may take up to 30 days. Once it’s complete, we’ll email you to move on to the next step.

If we have any questions or issues with your application, we’ll flag your application and email you with detailed instructions.

Read Frequently Asked Questions about the application process.

4. Payment

There are two payments involved in the application process. The first occurs when you submit your application, and the second occurs when your application has been accepted so that you can schedule to take the exam. The fastest and easiest way to pay is through our application portal, my.nabcep.org.

Once payment is received, you will receive an email from our testing vendor, Castle Worldwide Inc., that includes information that you’ll need to schedule to take the exam. You are eligible for two years, and you may take the exam up to four times during that period. NABCEP requires that you wait a minimum of two weeks between exam attempts.

5. Schedule Exam Appointment

For all certifications, with the exception of the PV System Inspector and Solar Heating System Inspector exams, your exam will occur at one of Castle Worldwide, Inc.’s testing facilities. To review the list of testing sites, please click here.

For the PV System Inspector and Solar Heating System Inspector exams, you can schedule your exam in a live online proctored (LOP) environment through Castle Worldwide, Inc.
After you’ve completed all of the steps above, the only thing left to do is take the exam. Good luck!

What is an Accredited Institution?

Accreditation is a status granted to an institution that meets or exceeds the stated criteria of educational quality. The purposes of accreditation are to assess and enhance the educational quality of an institution, to assure consistency in institutional operations, to promote institutional improvement, and to provide for public accountability.

What is Advanced Training?

“Advanced” training is defined as a course which provides instruction beyond the “basic,” “fundamental,” or “introductory” PV Installation principles and practices. Courses should be designed for the Professional who is prepared to maintain a decision-making role in the design, project management, installation, and/or commissioning & maintenance of a system.

Follow these steps to find an advanced, accredited course for an exam on the NABCEP Course Catalog:

  1. In the blue header bar, click “Courses for Professional Exams”
  2. From the first drop-down, choose which Certification you are applying for
  3. From the second drop-down, choose which course format you want to take
  4. Continue narrowing your search with the other drop-downs as needed
  5. Hit Apply
  6. Click on the course you would like more information about
  7. Contact the Training Provider if you are interested in the course for pricing and availability.

Follow these steps to find an advanced course for recertification on the NABCEP Course Catalog:

  1. In the blue header bar, click “Courses for Recerts & Renewals”
  2. From the first drop-down, choose which Certification you are recertifying
  3. From the second drop-down, choose which course format you want to take
  4. Continue narrowing your search with the other drop-downs as needed
  5. Hit Apply
  6. Click on the course you would like more information about
  7. Contact the Registered Training Provider if you are interested in the course for pricing and availability.

I don't have the required experience. Can I still get certified?

No. To qualify to sit for a NABCEP Board Certification Exam, every Applicant, regardless of background, education or experience must complete all requirements. There are no exceptions.  If you do not meet all the necessary requirements, you cannot sit for the exam.

Where can I take the exam?

All NABCEP Board Certification exams are given by NABCEP’s testing vendor, Castle Worldwide, Inc.  Please visit their website for all available testing centers near you.

Will I receive a confirmation that my application has been approved?

Yes, you will receive an email notification from NABCEP letting you know your application has been approved and to expect an email from NABCEP’s testing vendor, Castle Worldwide, Inc., with instructions on how to schedule your exam at one of their testing facilities.

How do I find a course for Board Certification exams?

Follow these steps for find a course on the NABCEP Course Catalog:

  1. In the blue header bar, click “Courses for Exam Qualification”
  2. From the first drop-down, choose which Certification you are applying for
  3. From the second drop-down, choose which course format you want to take
  4. Continue narrowing your search with the other drop-downs as needed
  5. Hit Apply
  6. Click on the course you would like more information about
  7. Contact the Training Provider if you are interested in the course for pricing and availability.

I can’t see the Submit button. How do I submit?

In order to be able to submit and pay the fee, you must have check marks in the upper right-hand corner of each tab section. If it is only ½ filled, then something is missing or incorrect in that section. You will need to go to that section and make sure all boxes are filled and all upload areas have documents in them.

Once all sections have check marks, you should get a green Submit button. Click it and you will be taken to the payment page.

My application is flagged. What do I do?

Return to your application at my.nabcep.org. If it is an exam application, click on your application under “Existing Applications.” If your application is for recertification, click on the application in the gray Recertification box. The section of the application that needs to be corrected will be marked with a red X. We will provide you with notes and specific details regarding what you need to provide to complete your application at the top of the Tab with the red X. Click on that section to view the information. You will be required to fix any section which has been marked with a red X before you re-submit the application.

I require ADA accommodations for my exam. How do I apply with accommodations?

In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (as amended), it is the policy of NABCEP to provide accommodations in testing conditions to applicants with disabilities who are qualified candidates for our certification examinations to the extent such accommodations are requested on a timely basis, reasonable, not unduly burdensome, and consistent with the nature and purpose of the examination and necessitated by the applicant’s disability.

All Candidates who desire special testing accommodations due to a disability or religious observance must make this request prior to exam scheduling. It is the responsibility of the Candidate to provide advance notice by completing the Special Accommodations form along with appropriate documentation of the disability or religious observance and the specifications of the type of accommodations or aids that will be required. Submit all forms and documentation to info@nabcep.org with “Special Accommodations” in the subject line.

Once you have been approved for special accommodations from NABCEP, you will be able to schedule your exam with Castle Worldwide, Inc.

How do I pay?

There are two payments involved in the application process. The first occurs when you submit your application, and the second occurs when your application has been accepted so you can schedule to take the exam. The fastest and easiest way to pay is through our application portal, my.nabcep.org.

Once payment is received, you will receive an email from our testing vendor, Castle Worldwide Inc., which will include information you’ll need to schedule to take the exam. You are eligible for two years, and you may take the exam up to 4 times a year.

What is the payment policy?

All fees are subject to change without notice and are non-refundable and non-transferable.
Fees are payable to the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) via credit card, check or money order.

What are the policies regarding refunds, rescheduling, cancellations, and absences?

  • Refunds: All fees are non-refundable and non-transferable.
  • Appointment Reschedule/Cancellation: Candidates are subject to Castle Worldwide’s (DBA Scantron) cancellation and rescheduling policies. You must submit rescheduling requests to Castle Worldwide at least four (4) business days before the date you wish to take or reschedule your exam. You must submit a reschedule request through Castle’s online scheduling system. A $50 fee will apply; the fee must be paid online (Visa or MasterCard by secure e-commerce) at the time of the request.
  • Absence: Failure to notify Castle Worldwide at least four days before your exam appointment and failure to meet a scheduled examination appointment will result in a no-show status. If you reach a no-show status, you will forfeit the exam fee and have to pay the full reexamination fee to schedule another examination.

What will happen if I do NOT show up for my scheduled exam appointment with Castle Worldwide?

Failure to notify Castle Worldwide (DBA Scantron) at least four days before your exam appointment and failure to meet a scheduled examination appointment will result in a no-show status. If you reach a no-show status, you will forfeit the exam fee and have to pay the full reexamination fee in order to schedule another examination.

If I fail the exam, can I take it again?

If you fail the exam on your first attempt, you can re-take it up to seven more times within your two-year eligibility period (4 times per year). You must wait 2 weeks between exam attempts. Fees are associated with re-examination. Details for re-examination can be found in the NABCEP Certification Handbook.

What happens if my eligibility expires and I have not taken the exam?

For all Board Certification exams, except System Inspectors, you are eligible to take the exam for two years from the date of approval. If you allow your eligibility to lapse, you must re-apply.

PV & Solar Heating System Inspector applications and exam eligibility are good for 6 months.  If you do not take the exam during your eligibility period, you must re-apply and pay the exam fee again.

Does my application ever expire?

Yes, your application expires after two years, except System Inspector applications.  PVSI & SHSI applications expire after 6 months.

Taking a NABCEP Exam

I live outside the United States. Can I take the exam and be certified in my country?

NABCEP’s Board Certification exams and PV Associate exams are currently available in over 100 countries. For information, please review our NABCEP Global page. For a list of international test sites, please click here.

Can I bring my own NEC book or other reference?

The National Electrical Code (NEC) is the ONLY reference approved for use during the NABCEP PV Installation Professional, PV Design Specialist, PV Installer Specialist, and PV Commissioning & Maintenance Specialist Certification exams. All candidates’ Codebooks will be checked by the test proctor/administrator for adherence to the guidelines in this document before candidates are permitted access to the testing room. An electronic PDF version of the NEC will be available to all candidates regardless of whether they bring a physical copy of the codebook or not.

Physical codebooks from any year may be used. However, candidates are advised that exams are updated regularly to align with the newest Codebook. Only softbound and spiral-bound versions of the Codebook are permitted. Highlighting within the Codebook is the ONLY permissible method of preparing or manipulating the Codebook prior to the exam.

Codebooks that fail to meet the following guidelines will not be allowed in the testing room. These guidelines are in place to ensure that every candidate is tested fairly and that no candidate has access to unapproved resources.

  • Handwritten notes are NOT allowed in any portion of the Codebook.
  • Movable or permanent tabs are NEVER permitted in the Codebook.
  • Codebooks CANNOT contain sticky notes, loose papers, or any added materials.
  • Additional keyword indexes CANNOT be used with or added to any Codebook.
  • Photocopied documents CANNOT be added to a Codebook.
  • Photocopied versions of a Codebook are NEVER permitted.
  • Formula sticks CANNOT be used with or added to any Codebook.
  • Test preparation study guides are NOT approved references and are NOT permitted in testing centers.

During the testing process, candidates are NOT permitted to do the following:

  • Share Codebooks with other candidates.
  • Highlight, underline, mark, or write any information in their Codebooks.

What kind of calculator can I bring?

None. All computer-based exams feature a basic scientific calculator on-screen during the exam.

What are the upcoming exam dates?

CBT and LOP Certification Exams are offered on a continuous basis. There are no application or registration deadlines. Once your application is accepted by NABCEP, you may schedule your exam with Castle Worldwide (DBA Scantron) as soon as you wish.

What is the format of the exams?

All examinations consist of multiple-choice questions that are carefully designed, reviewed for correctness, and computer-scored.

All exams are currently given in English.

NABCEP Exam Results

Can I see my score?

All NABCEP exams are developed on a pass/fail basis. NABCEP provides exam score reports to anyone who fails an exam for the purpose of developing a more informed study plan to retake the exam. Exam score reports will be completed and mailed to the Candidate approximately 2-4 weeks following the administration of the exam. Exam score reports are only available to those who fail the exam; individuals who pass will receive a congratulatory letter and certificate, but NABCEP does not share passing scores with those who pass the exam.

Grade results or pass/fail status will not be given out over the telephone or by email or fax. All score reports will be mailed hard-copy via US Postal Service.

If NABCEP has received your exam results, you may log into your account to see if you passed or not. If your account has a Recertification/Renewal section on the right side with an expiration date, then you passed the exam. If the Recertification section is not there and your application has been changed back to “Accepted,” then you did not pass and you can schedule to retake the exam on my.nabcep.org.

How long does it take to get my exam results?

Exam score reports will be completed and mailed to the Candidate approximately 2-4 weeks following the administration of the exam. Grade results or pass/fail status will not be given out over the telephone or by email or fax. All score reports will be mailed hard-copy via US Postal Service.

If NABCEP has received your exam results, you may log into your account to see if you passed or not. If your account has a Recertification/Renewal section on the right side with an expiration date, then you passed the exam. If the Recertification section is not there and your application has been changed back to “Accepted,” then you did not pass and you can schedule to retake the exam on my.nabcep.org.

What is the passing score for exams?

  • PV Installation Professional – 70
  • PV Technical Sales – 75
  • PV Design Specialist – 70
  • PV Installer Specialist – 70
  • PV Commissioning & Maintenance – 70
  • PV System Inspector – 65
  • Solar Heating System Inspector – 65
  • Solar Heating Installer – 75
  • PV Associate – 65
  • Solar Heating Associate – 65
  • Small Wind Associate – 65

What is the exam-grading process?

Because different test forms may vary slightly in difficulty from one version to another, it is a testing industry best practice to have scores reported as scaled scores. Scaled scores are statistically derived by adjusting the raw score (the number of questions a Candidate answers correctly) by a factor that accounts for the difficulty of a particular exam format relative to other formats.

Using a scaled score helps ensure that all candidates are treated fairly whether they take an exam that is slightly easier or more difficult than an exam that other candidates took. A total scaled score is used to determine pass or fail status and is reported as a scaled score ranging between 0 and 99.

Recertification

How do I check my certifications and the recertification dates?

For your current certification information, please log in to your account at my.nabcep.org. Once you have logged in to your account, look under Recertification and the expiration date of your certification will be listed there. You must submit your application by midnight the day before your expiration date to recertify without a late fee.

What is Advanced Training?

“Advanced” training is defined as a course which provides instruction beyond the “basic,” “fundamental,” or “introductory” PV Installation principles and practices. Courses should be designed for the Professional who is prepared to maintain a decision-making role in the design, project management, installation, and/or commissioning & maintenance of a system.

Follow these steps to find an advanced course for recertification on the NABCEP Course Catalog:

  1. In the blue header bar, click “Courses for Recerts & Renewals”
  2. From the first drop-down, choose which Certification you are recertifying
  3. From the second drop-down, choose which course format you want to take
  4. Continue narrowing your search with the other drop-downs as needed
  5. Hit Apply
  6. Click on the course you would like more information about
  7. Contact the Registered Training Provider if you are interested in the course for pricing and availability.

How do I find recertification courses?

Follow these steps to find an advanced course for recertification on the NABCEP Course Catalog:

  1. In the blue header bar, click “Courses for Recerts & Renewals”
  2. From the first drop-down, choose which Certification you are recertifying
  3. From the second drop-down, choose which course format you want to take
  4. Continue narrowing your search with the other drop-downs as needed
  5. Hit Apply
  6. Click on the course you would like more information about
  7. Contact the Training Provider if you are interested in the course for pricing and availability.

How do I know what Course Type to place my CEUs under?

If the course is listed on the NABCEP Course Catalog, we will accept the course for the Approved Credits listed.
If the course is not on the CE Registered list, but covers the Course Types listed in your application and meets the criteria for CE credits, then it will be accepted.

How do I get CEU credit for teaching solar?

To receive teaching credits, you will need a signed letter on letterhead from the institution or company you taught for and an outline for the qualified course. The letter must include the name of the course, the total length of the course in hours and when you taught it. Continuing education contact hours for teaching activities will be determined based on the number of actual instructional, contact hours, and cannot exceed twelve (12) contact hours per three (3) year recertification period. Continuing education contact hours may be claimed only once within a recertification period for each specific course offering.
See Section 19.13 of the NABCEP Certification Handbook for detailed information.

What are my options if I don’t have all the requirements to recertify by my recertification date?

NABCEP’s Board of Director’s extended the “Expiration Period” for 3 years before you are required to take the exam again. If you do not recertify before the 3 years is up, you will have to start over and complete a certification application, fulfill all requirements, and pass the PV Installation Professional Certification exam to become NABCEP Board Certified again.

If recertifying in the first year of expiration, there is an additional $50.00 late fee.
If recertifying in the second or third year of expiration, there is an additional $100.00 late fee.

During this “expiration” period you cannot claim yourself as being NABCEP Board Certified. Expiration dates do not change depending on at what point in the renewal cycle you meet recertification requirements. If you renew within the first, second, or third year of the renewal period, or prior to expiration, your new expiration date set as three years from the previous expiration date and is not tied to the date that your recertification application is accepted.

I can’t see the Submit button. How do I submit?

In order to be able to submit your application, you must have check marks in the upper right-hand corner of each tab section. If it is only ½ filled, then something is missing or incorrect in that section. You will need to go to that section and make sure all boxes are filled and all upload areas have documents in them.

Once all sections have check marks, you should get a green Submit button. Click it and you will be taken to the payment page.

Do I get a new certificate after I recertify?

Once your recertification application is accepted, you will be mailed a new certificate with a new expiration date in approximately 2-4 weeks.