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Choose a green job

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The sun has set on the classic jobs vs. the environment conflict, revealing the forward-thinking green reality of jobs for the environment.[1] Now's the perfect time to snag an eco-job, to help yourself and the earth at the same time no matter what your age: fresh from high school or college and starting to job hunt, thinking about a midstream career change, "between jobs," or planning to come out of retirement.

Find it! Green job listings

How to find a green job

Aside from using the green job listings above, there are a number of strategies you can try to increase your chances of hearing the sought-after words, "You're hired!"

  • Do your homework. Check out company and organization websites of potential employers as well as websites of professional organizations in your field or field-to-be. They'll often have job openings listed.
  • Get your foot in the door. If you've identified several organizations where you'd like to work, even if they don't have specific job openings at the moment, make yourself known through an internship, professional or alumni contact who works there, or an event you can attend. Also, consider setting up an informational interview, by phone or in person, so you can talk to a staff member about the organization and positions you've got in your sights.[2]
  • Think outside the eco box. Even if you don't have a degree in an environmental field, there are still plenty of jobs for you. The environment and climate change are huge areas that can use people from many different disciplines.[3] For instance, information management and financing are two universal needs companies often face when tackling environmental issues—which translates to jobs in information technology, statistics, geography, green accounting, finance, sector analyzing, managing foundations and more.[4]
  • Take the path of least resistance.[5] For those who want to switch careers easily (without additional education or training) to an eco job, look for jobs that use similar skills—human resources manager at a pharmaceutical corporation to human resources manager at an organic foods company, or accountant at B.E.A.N. accounting firm to accountant at a nonprofit environmental organization.
  • Network. It may be an oft-used mantra but that's because it's effective. Talking to others may help you find personal contacts or give you an inside track on a job vacancy. It's also a smart idea to join professional associations in your field of interest, whether it's The Association of Professional Wildlife Educators or The Northwest Biofuels Association, to attend their meetings and other events so you get to know who's who and let them get to know you.

Choosing a green job helps you go green because...

  • Those with green jobs seek to directly or indirectly protect the earth by reducing peoples' impact on the environment, trying to restore damage done to the earth,[6] or promoting the appreciation or protection of the natural world.[7]

A number of factors are converging to set the global scene for a green jobs boomlet, at the least, and a bonafide job boom at best.[8] Growing public awareness of the need to address environmental problems, climate change, and global warming is causing some companies to be proactive while others respond to regulatory measures nipping at their heels. And, business opps to be had by going green are all affecting the growth of environmentally friendly business.[9] The predictions are impressive, especially for cleaner energy fields. According to the American Solar Energy Society (ASES), the renewable energy industry has generated 8.5 million jobs already with an estimated 40 million jobs to be created in the renewable energy and energy-efficiency industries by the year 2030, not just in engineering but in management, construction, accounting, and manufacturing as well.[10] Worldwide, more jobs are taking on a similar green hue. China is a leader in solar heating and in this field more than 1,000 Chinese manufacturers employed in excess of 150,000 people in 2005. Brazil's ethanol program has created half a million jobs and in Delhi, India, new eco-friendly buses that run on compressed natural gas will open up 18,000 new jobs.[11]

What are the hottest green jobs?

No longer limited to traditional green jobs such as park rangers, wildlife biologists, geologists, foresters, and the like, eco-work's boundaries are moving in many different directions. "As the greening of business expands, it is filtering into every aspect of business, from procurement to marketing to human resources," says Joel Makower, founder of[12] And there are jobs available at all levels, from "green" maintenance supervisor to chief sustainability officer.[13]

Wind power has been around since the '70s but is hitting its stride now with revenues expected to rise from $17.9 billion in 2006 to more than $60 billion a decade later.[14] Jobs needed in this field include wind power meteorologists who map out atmospheric models, wind turbine installers and maintenance positions, wind resource assessors who find prime windy locations, and engineers who connect wind power to the energy grid.[15] Solar energy is experiencing a similarly sunny job outlook with installation and maintenance technicians, sales and marketing support, plant managers, and engineers all in demand.[16]

Other fields fired up with a green flame, according to Kevin Doyle, founder of Green Economy in Watertown, Massachusetts, include:[16]

  • Green building has surged tremendously with US Green Building Council (USGBC) numbers showing 527 accredited professionals in 2001 and 36,000 in 2007. Architects, construction managers, construction workers, and landscape architects are all jobs linked to this industry.
  • Public and private water utilities and wastewater treatment plants will need plant/system operators and hydrologists as maintenance of water quality begins to change into watershed management.
  • Urban and regional planning, especially in fast-growing areas, is in demand, with planners often able to become involved from the ground up with communities' sustainablity issues.
  • Brownfield redevelopment, the business of redeveloping the 400,000 to 1 million unused properties (no one knows the exact number)[17] with real or potential contamination, is a growing business. Environmental remediation technicians, financial investors, real estate professionals, and community-relations staff are needed to guide these transformations.
  • Environmental consulting and engineering is expanding, and environmental consulting firms are looking to staff up with engineers of all kinds—earth scientists, project managers, and information-technology specialists. The Environmental Business Journal projects an average annual growth rate of 5.5 percent through 2010.[16]
  • Land trusts have grown 32 percent in numbers from 2000 to 2005, and jobs needed to facilitate these transactions and take care of the land include executive directors, fundraisers, preserve managers, and real estate personnel.

Doyle also gives the nod to other smokin' environmental career areas such as carbon management and control technologies, organic food, ecotourism, and many local, state, and federal government jobs (many of them environmental professions) because a large number of government employees are nearing retirement age.[16]

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