Rocio Farias, 32, is a solar panel installer at the Chatsworth, Calif., office of SolarCity.
Q: Tell me about your job.
A: I supervise six other solar panel installers. My crew installs panels on people’s homes; other crews work on businesses and government installations.
Q: Did you work your way up to your current position?
A: I was promoted four times, first to junior installer when a job opened up, then to installer, followed by senior installer and, finally, in 2013, to crew lead. The company approached me each time. My bosses also sent me for training, and now I’m a certified electrician.
Q: Do you like working outside?
A: I love it, but the sun can be brutal. I wear long pants, shirts with long sleeves, and a hard hat with a neck shade. And sunscreen, always sunscreen.
Q: What do you like about the job?
A: For one thing, the view from some of the roofs is spectacular. When we’re in Los Angeles, we can look out over the whole city. I like a challenge, and I like working with my hands. Because it’s so physical, it’s also a great workout. The panels weigh about 45 pounds each. For a ranch house, we climb a ladder and pass the panels to co-workers on the roof. For a house with more stories, we use a pulley system to transport the panels to the roof.
Q: Is there something in particular that gives you satisfaction about this job?
A: It’s especially satisfying to turn on the system at the end of the day, bring customers to their electric meter and show them that they’re using solar energy, just as I said they would be. Their meter is now running in the opposite direction, sending power back to the grid.
Q: All the people you supervise are men, and it’s a male-dominated field. What would you tell other women about this job?
A: I’d love to see more women in this field. I’d tell them to come and work on the roofs with us. It’s fun. They’ll get a free workout and learn a lot. They’ll be doing something good for the environment, and it can save people money.