A person who wants to become a solar thermal engineer should plan on attending university for an advanced degree in mechanical engineering or a related field with a concentration on solar thermal technology. This may require six or more years of higher education before it is possible to enter the industry as a working engineer. Some employers may preferentially hire applicants with experience in the industry, and could set out other requirements for special positions in product research, development, and installation.
Higher education to become a solar thermal engineer typically starts with a bachelor's degree in engineering. High schools students with an interest in solar thermal careers may want to take extra math and science to prepare for college. It may be advisable to consider taking care of some prerequisites as well. The graduation requirements for an engineering degree can be tough, and it may help to get some general education requirements out of the way to provide more time for engineering classes.
Undergraduate students should consider continuing for a master's or PhD in this field, as it can be very helpful. While in school, they may want to start developing plans for graduate research, and can establish industry connections through internships and other work. Graduate students should consider whether they want to work in the industry, for government agencies, or in academia. They can focus their academic and professional development in that direction so they will be more prepared to start work after graduation.
Some universities offer a solar thermal engineering degree. More commonly, a student who wants to become a solar thermal engineer would need a degree in some aspect of mechanical engineering, and could take courses and work on research in the area of solar thermal development to specialize. Before attending university or college, it can help to look up engineers working in the field to see where they went to school. It may also be possible to work with leading researchers in solar thermal development by attending a particular college or university.
After going to school to become a solar thermal engineer, graduates can enter employment in a variety of number of positions in this industry. With active experience, more job opportunities can open up. Professional connections made through this work can also be helpful for people with an interest in opening their own businesses. Additional connections may be made through membership in professional organizations open to working engineers and researchers.