Faces of CNM: Matt Bernauer

Matt went through the Photovoltaic program and is now excited to be part of a cutting-edge industry that's on the front lines of creating our environmental future
August 17, 2021

Matt Bernauer has always been mindful about the environment. His parents taught him about the importance of caring for the planet, and during a stint in the Coast Guard he saw first-hand how fossil fuel production can pollute the ocean. He’s always believed that our health is directly related to the health of the planet.

To try and make a difference, Matt, who’s 38, worked as a bike mechanic but ultimately wanted something more. That’s when he found CNM’s Photovoltaic programs and enrolled. 

“I decided to go into solar because the solar iron is hot and it’s time to strike,” he says. “I see solar as one of our only (energy) options going forward.”

Matt went for his certificate in Photovoltaic Systems and threw everything he had at the program. It was challenging, but he says he got high-quality instruction and loved working with the instructors who were always there to help.

“The program definitely demanded a 100-percent commitment but I was happy to put everything I had into my classes because I knew it would pay off,” he says. 

During the program, instructor Janet Hughes brought in several solar companies to speak with the students. Matt was able to make connections and had two job offers immediately after completing his certificate.

He’s currently working with a company that does both residential and commercial installations. He had to start at the bottom and work his way up, but he’s already learned a lot. Matt has also been studying for his journeyman’s license and once he passes his test he’ll get the chance to be more directly involved with all the electrical work that goes into a solar installation.  

“I’m excited to become a journeyman because solar is definitely about to become even more important,” Matt says. 

Going forward, Matt says he’s both concerned and optimistic. He knows we’re facing important environmental challenges, but also knows we have smart solutions we can put in place. He’s also excited to be part of an industry that’s growing and will offer him any number of long-term career paths. 

For other students considering solar, he strongly encourages them to jump in right away. He regrets waiting until his 30s to join the program and wishes he could have gone through right out of high school. 

“Don’t shy away,” he says. “This industry is a great place to be and CNM is a great place to get your education so you can start your career.”