Green Jobs Are Growing. What Do They Look Like?
By Margaret Hansen
The Economic Stimulus Package is now law and money has been set aside to invest in green jobs that will reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and increase sustainability. So what exactly are green jobs, and is there one in your future?
Growth trends in fields like renewable energy, research, mass transit and construction, to name a few, are offering bright spots in a dim economy. From new jobs to other familiar ones with a green spin, the employment landscape is changing.
Here are ten examples of green jobs to browse:
1. Organic Seed Product Manager
Core Requirements: BS in Horticulture or Biology or relevant experience; knowledge of agricultural/horticultural principals and techniques.
From farm to table, organic foods have risen in popularity at a staggering pace. Every possible food industry job - including: wholesale, retail, processing, seed management, farming, and culinary - could be mirrored in the organic sector. "Demand (for our products) has been growing due to the increasing awareness of organics and sustainability," says Alisa Keimel with Johnny's Selected Seeds. Keimel, whose company is actually growing through the recession, is seeing a large influx of new applicants.
2. Construction / Installation Laborer
Core Requirements: Ability to work outdoors, lift heavy equipment and be physically active on the job. Some jobs require previous experience, while others are willing to train the right candidate.
Some green examples of projects could include: installing solar panels, energy efficient insulation and windows; weatherizing homes and public buildings such as schools; and building new solar plants, wind farms and transmission grids.
Core Requirements: Bachelor's or Master's degree, depending on the job. It could specialize in accounting/finance, public policy, planning or economics and would require the ability to understand raw data and communicate what it means to stakeholders.
The job could reside in the public or private sector in a variety of work environments.
4. Production Associate
Core Requirements: Industrial or manufacturing experience.
As we become less reliant on fossil fuels and turn to alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power, a new industrial career is emerging. Job growth is predicted in the manufacturing of wind turbines, solar panels and all of their subsequent parts and pieces.
5. Process Engineer
Core Requirements: Bachelor's degree in engineering, chemistry background, project management experience and more, depending on the job.
More of these types of engineers will be needed for the manufacturing environments of new green products and technologies, improving the entire production process.
6. Web Developer for Solar Company Website
Core Requirements: Bachelor's or Master's degree in computer science and 7+ years experience in the full software life cycle developing large scale Web-based applications focusing on rich user interfaces, plus demonstrated knowledge of current web technologies.
One of the selling points of this job (and others like it) is the opportunity to have a direct impact on the adoption rate of solar renewable energy and other green initiatives.
7. Project Intake Coordinator at Energy Efficiency Non-Profit
Core Requirements: Bachelor's degree and two years of administrative assistance or customer service experience, or a combination of education and relevant experience.
This role combines customer service with administrative and project management skills. It offers tremendous autonomy and decision-making.
8. Administrative Assistant
Core Requirements: Excellent with all Microsoft Office Suite products, proof-reading and writing skills, must be a self-starter with problem solving and critical thinking skills, good communication skills, and ability to multi-task and meet deadlines.
Just like any organization, green industry employers will require the same types of support staff and operations departments. The difference could be that green organizations tend to be flatter, requiring problem-solving and critical thinking skills at all levels, and offering a 'we're in this together' office environment.
9. LEED Certification Architect / Engineer
Core Requirements: Bachelors degree in Architecture or Engineering, up to 5 years experience in building design and construction, and general understanding of high performance green building design, specifically regarding energy modeling, indoor air quality, and material selection.
U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system, which once applied primarily to commercial buildings, has now been adapted to homes, retail, schools and healthcare buildings. The trend is catching on in many communities, creating a future demand for green-minded engineers, contractors, architects and designers.
10. Residential Solar Sales Representative
Core Requirements: Bachelor's degree in Engineering, Science or other technical discipline, 2-5 years experience in the solar energy industry, renewable energy industry, engineering consulting, construction industry, electrical/power electronic industry, electrical utility and/or other similar field.
This job may not be with a local company, but it can be a local, work-at-home job for a national or international company looking to grow market share. A broad, educated sales force will fuel the fire, so to speak, for renewable energy.
Green Job Benefits
Green benefits seem a bit friendlier, too. From employee owned companies that offer competitive wages and wide opportunities for advancement; to flexible, business casual workplaces that offer educational stipends. Some even offer cash allowances toward green purchases. Many of these companies have a non-traditional stance on workplace benefits and tend to focus on the whole person and a work-life balance.