Applications for the PV Design Specialist Certification are now available!

NABCEP PV Design Specialist™ (PVDS) Certification Information

The NABCEP PV Design Specialist certification is a voluntary certification that provides a set of national standards by which PV Design Specialists with skills and experience can distinguish themselves from their competition. Certification provides a measure of protection to the public by giving them a credential for judging the competency of practitioners. It is not intended to prevent qualified individuals from designing PV systems or to replace state licensure requirements.

This certification program provides a pathway for experts at configuring the electrical design of a project to earn a NABCEP Professional Certification. In assessing the project site, PV Design Specialists will be able to design both the mechanical and electrical design components with confidence, accuracy, and safety.

Certification Applicants should read the NABCEP Certification Handbook before starting an application.


To become certified and maintain certification, applicants must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Meet prerequisites of related experience and/or education as outlined below
  • Complete an application form documenting all requirements
  • Sign and agree to uphold the NABCEP Code of Ethics
  • Pay Application and Examination Fees to NABCEP
  • Pass a written examination
  • Once certified, complete continuing education and experience requirements, submit a recertification application, and pay a recertification fee, within the three (3) year recertification timeframe

Qualifying for the Examination

NABCEP recognizes that professionals in the field of renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies receive their training and work experiences in a variety of ways. NABCEP Staff will review each application to determine compliance with eligibility criteria.

To qualify to sit for the NABCEP PV Design Specialist (PVDS) Certification Examination, every Applicant, regardless of background, education or experience, will need to document:

  • Completion of a minimum of 10 hours of OSHA Outreach Training Program for the Construction Industry training (or provincial equivalent); AND
  • Completion of 24 cumulative hours of training as defined below; AND
  • Completion of designs for installations that equal at least 12 Project Credits

Design History

Applicants need at least 12 Project Credits for designs of completed installations for which they designed and drew the plans within the last two (2) calendar years prior to Applicant’s application submission date. The Applicant’s name and/or initials must be on the drawing(s).

For each PV system design, an Applicant must submit the design/drawing/plan set (Design) the Applicant designed, documentation that summarizes system information, and documentation of approval by a governing body.

Projects Credits are as follows:

System size of 1 – 999kW = 2 Project Credits

System size of 1MW and up = 3 Project Credits

All Designs in the application must be from completed (sold) installations unless they were approved by a governing body.

Designs must include the following information:

  • System location
  • Contractor name and phone number
  • Applicant’s name listed under “Designed by” or “Drawn by”
  • System size in kW
  • Modules used (model number, quantity & rated output)
  • Inverters used (model number, quantity & rated output)
    • Maximum string size (if string inverters)
    • Maximum branch size (if micro inverters)
  • Plot Plan
  • Single Line
  • Structural details showing racking type & mounting

If the PV system was installed, the applicant must submit electrical or building permits and final approved inspection records. To document the system completion date, and that the system was installed according to applicable codes, an Applicant must submit a copy of Electrical and/or Building Permit(s) and Final Inspection Report(s) issued by the Local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) for each system submitted.

If the design of an installation system has been sold but not installed, the applicant must submit a signed letter on letterhead from the contractor, employer, or customer stating that they are satisfied with the design of the PV system and the reason why the system was not completed.  Emails will not be accepted in lieu of the letter.


OSHA 10 Training

All Applicants must show proof of completion of a minimum of 10 hours of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Outreach Training Program for the Construction Industry, or provincial equivalent. To find an OSHA class, visit:

PV Design Training

PV Design training must meet the following criteria to be accepted in an application:

  1. All training was completed in the five (5) calendar years prior to the submission of the application.
  2. All training must have a formal training format, with a teacher-learner structure. This implies a connection between a learner and a learning source. This can include web-based training in which the student is separated from faculty and other students but where the learner receives feedback and the student’s progress is monitored. All hour requirements are based on “contact hours” between the teacher and the learner.
  3. A minimum of twenty-four (24) prescribed hours of advanced training is required.  Each candidate must have:
  • 18 hours of advanced PV design principles and practices as outlined in the NABCEP PV Design Specialist Job Task Analysis (PVDS JTA). Course(s) must have been taken with an accredited institution.
  • 6 hours of the National Electric Code (NEC)

Advanced courses are contrasted to “basic, “fundamental” or “introductory” PV installation and design principles and practices as outlined in the NABCEP PV Associate Job Task Analysis (PVA JTA).  Click here to find a class

PV Design Specialist Job Task Analysis (JTA)

The foundation document for all of the NABCEP Certification Exams is a detailed description of the job and subject matter involved. This is referred to as a “Task Analysis” or “Job Task Analysis (JTA).”

The NABCEP Photovoltaic Specialists JTA defines a set of knowledge, skills, and abilities typically required of a PV Professional that specializes in design, installation, or commissioning & maintenance. This comprehensive Job Task Analysis (JTA) contains a detailed listing of the necessary skills and abilities for PV Specialists who perform decision making roles concerning the design, installation and commissioning & maintenance of Photovoltaic (PV) systems. The JTA guides the development of the PV Specialists exams by which candidates for certification can demonstrate that they possess the skills and knowledge that their peers and experts have deemed necessary to do the job well.

PV Design Specialist Recertification Requirements

Certificants are required to log into their account to complete and submit a recertification application electronically for review. Certificants will need to log in at and enter their username and password.  Once logged in, there will be a gray box on the right-hand side of the screen that says “Recertification”. Certificants will need to click on the link in the gray box corresponding to their certification and begin the recertification application. Please do not click under “Existing Application.”

Consistent with the terms of this policy, NABCEP Certified PV Design Specialists must satisfy the following requirements to recertify:

18 hours of continuing education broken down into three sections:

6 hours specific to NEC Codes

6 hours specific to the PVDS JTA

6 hours PV Technical or Non-Technical of which 2 hours must be Building and/or Fire Codes

A list of NABCEP registered courses may be found in the Continuing Education section on the website. The list contains information on which CE credits (Course Type) the course may be applied to.

Certificants must document their drawings for completed projects equaling 6 project credits over the course of their three-year certification period.

Projects Credits are as follows:

System size of 1 – 999kW = 2 Project Credits

System size of 1MW and up = 3 Project Credits

For each project, certificants must upload their Design along with a permit and final approved inspection.