Top 10 List of Green Career Fields
In a world with a lousy economy and nowhere near enough jobs, where can you possibly find a decent career these days? I’ll give you a hint: It’s big, green, and can be found everywhere.
If you guessed the environment, you’d be correct. Yay for you and your green smarts. The environmental career field has been rapidly expanding and with so many options out there these days, you may not be certain where to start. I know I certainly wasn’t and I’ve been interested in the environment for years.
Lately, I’ve been doing research on all the green careers out there (or at least career categories). You’ll find a lot of sites claiming they have the top 10 list of green jobs, or coolest green jobs, or even the highest paying green jobs. Guess what. Most of them can’t agree on anything. One site may list Forester as the number one job, while another will place it with Environmental Engineering. Certainly, not all of them can be right and not all of them are wrong. So, for this list, I simply went through a vast number of sites, wrote down all the eco-jobs listed; then separated those jobs into specific fields. The career fields that occurred most often made the list.
Where would the world be without education? This is actually the most important career on the list. Without proper education and training, people would not be able to get degrees or certifications, and without those, there would be no jobs in the first place. Environmental education is something that can be found the world over in universities, training workshops, and more. Job opportunities can include working with conservation groups, at a wildlife sanctuary or reserve, or simply continuing the cycle by becoming another professor or trainer in environmental education.
If you like environment, science and (of course) engineering, this would be the career choice for you. Environmental engineering involves improving the environment by dealing with issues such as pollution control and public health issues. You may find environmental engineers dealing with air quality, studying environmental policy, or handling hazardous waste. Needless to say, it can be a dirty job and those who take it face some great risks by being exposed to pollutants and so forth, but it still has to be done.
Break out the color-coded bins, work gloves and old clothes for this one because you are going to need them. Many towns across the globe have some form of recycling program. You may have a recycle drop-off site or perhaps special trucks will make curbside pickups. You may also see special bins at the mall, airport, and other public places. All of that has to go somewhere and be dealt with by someone. Recycling requires you to collect, separate, (possibly) clean, and recycle all of that material. As for the waste management end of the spectrum, yes, this involves dealing with garbage. However, it also involves coming up with innovative ideas on dealing with garbage or recyclable items, such as turning waste into renewable energy. For all the dirty work done, you are looking at a pretty nice salary for this field—an average salary can range between $50,000 and $70,000 per year!
7. Organic Products/Farming
The world and everything in it seems to be going green (if it wasn’t green already). Organic products are cropping up more often throughout local stores and big retail chains. This is certainly a great area to get involved in the green career field. If you have an interest in farming, gardening and the like, you can grow your own organic crops and plants and sell them. If you want to push your creative business side, you can create and sell your own organic products, or perhaps work through wholesale or as an affiliate of an already existing organic company. From vegetables to beauty products, the possibilities for this field are really endless.
Here is another green career field with a multitude of options. Lately, it’s been embedded into peoples’ heads that a green home is a good home. There are a ton of news articles that will tell you what home improvements to make in order to make your house more sustainable, energy efficient, or simply a good tax write-off. Businesses are also jumping on the green construction bandwagon by adding solar panels or becoming LEED certified. Green construction will get you working with all those sustainable materials you’ve been hearing of. However, if that doesn’t interest you, then how about being an architect? You can also do eco-friendly interior decorating, design the next hydro-powered car, or create a more efficient way to do laundry. All you have to do is make a choice and run with it.
5. Sustainability Consulting
Think you know everything about the environment? Got that low-impact lifestyle plan down to perfection? Do you love telling others what to do? Then check out this field. Sustainability consulting involves telling others how to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Work can range from helping businesses reduce their carbon footprint to creating sustainability projects. A lot of research on environmental practices, law and business options can be expected in this field. You may find yourself turning a corporate giant into a beacon of sustainability, or you may end up doing research in the Amazon. This is one job for those who take their work very seriously and can get the job done—irresponsible, unethical procrastinators need not apply.
4. Urban Planning
As we narrow down the list, we come to a career that places much focus on cities; particularly building and transportation. Urban planning involves the construction, or sometimes reconstruction, of buildings, transportation systems and so forth. Throw in the environmental factor and you will find a number of jobs available. Things to take into consideration for this field include: the creation and maintaining of greenspace; building or modernizing structures to maximize usability and sustainability, while minimizing environmental impact; creating transportation systems and routes (including carpooling) that will benefit both commuters and the environment, and much more. If you want to make the cities of the world more clean or eco-friendly, then you should definitely check out this field.
This field is a lot like typical business and marketing work, but with a green twist added to it. Are you local or a global company? What shipping methods will be used? How about packaging and printing? Can your product or service be labeled as organic, eco-friendly, or cruelty-free? You’ll be networking with fellow green-minded business leaders and workers, figuring out the best green way to advertise and market your product or service, and answering customer inquiries about your product, environmental activities and so forth. You may be one that has to keep your eye on your company’s emissions, or perhaps put a new green work policy into effect. Whether you end up a CEO of some major company, or a simple sales floor associate, there are a lot of options available here and the green corporate ladder is always growing and changing.
Ah, yes, science; another very important field on this list. Science is what tells us the animals are endangered, the world is warming up, and what plants have medicinal properties. Science can tell you the age of a tree, the effects air pollution has on human health, and discover previously unknown species in the more remote places of the world. You can heal animals, research climate data, create a new biofuel, or collect and study rock samples. From biology to meteorology to zoology, this is a massive field that is constantly changing, discovering and redesigning life as we know it every day.
1. Renewable Energy
Some of you may be surprised at this and if you are, I ask you: Why? The renewable energy career field is one of the fastest growing in the world. You have solar power, wind power, geothermal, hydro power, and more. You need people to design, build and manufacture solar heaters, wind generators, and other such products. You need people to install and maintain those products. If you don’t know where to even begin on the renewable energy path, you’ll need an energy auditor to provide you with information. Apart from homes and buildings, you’ll find renewable energy being used on vehicles, as well as chargers for electronic devices. Monitoring and research is also necessary, as well as the wind farms or geothermal companies that provide the power in the first place. The best part is, since the field involves energy that is renewable, jobs and energy resources are highly unlikely to run short anytime soon. Given those factors in a world with depleting resources and rundown economies, it should be clear why this made the number one spot.
I would also like to add a couple career categories that didn’t quite make the list but are still excellent fields to look into: Environmental Law and Eco-tourism. Although they didn’t occur quite as often as the rest of them, these 2 fields have a great impact and play important roles in their own way. If you are interested in a green career, I hope this list gave you a better idea of what options are available out there.
By Heidi Marshall