The Guide To Starting A Green Career

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Since many green careers are up and coming, it’s possible you have an inkling of an idea of what exactly a green career is. Basically, these careers are striving to conserve energy, develop alternative options for energy, reduce pollution and are focused on recycling. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has even predicted some green industries are about to see some significant job growth within the next couple of years.

This guide has been put together to help you figure out how to save the world while earning a paycheck.

Industries Within the Green Space

The green industry is on the rise as more and more people are finding ways in which they can preserve nature and the planet. Making this your job is a way many are “killing two birds with one stone.” As a starting point, we’ve compiled a list of green industries, as well as the careers you might find within each.

  1. Renewable Energy

    When you think of this industry you probably think coal, oil, gas and nuclear. These are the more traditional energy resources, but what may surprise are the “new” resources the world is starting to turn to which include solar, wind, geothermal and biomass. The career possibilities within this industry are unlimited, but the three most popular positions include:

  2. Energy Trading/Storage

    Just as goods and services are traded around the world, resources are a big commodity to most. Energy and carbon emissions can be stored in places like power plants. Three well-known jobs in this industry are:

  3. Environmental Protection and Agriculture

    A lot of people associate “green” with agriculture and farming. But it’s so much more than that. These jobs involve adapting to climate change and protecting air quality:

  4. Green Construction/Manufacturing

    As more and more people realize how important protecting nature is, they’ve begun integrating a high level of sustainability through the construction products they’re using. Whether it’s your home or your workplace, this industry is booming and typically calls for:

  5. Transportation

    This industry is slowly, but surely, coming around the mountain when it comes to career growth. In this industry, many are working hard to find solutions that would make everything from public transportation to automobiles more environmentally friendly. These jobs include:

  6. Recycling/Waste Reduction

    When we say recycling and waste reduction, we mean more than just separating your trash. This industry includes everything from disposing of waste properly to developing biosolids. Some jobs you might find here include:

  7. Government/Regulatory Administration

    This is where some major changes can be made. We’re talking writing laws and regulations, as well as ensuring companies are in compliance with such. You might find yourself in one of these positions:

  8. Research/Design/Consulting Services

    This is a nice blanket industry to cover all jobs within the green sector. The majority of workers in this industry are either self-employed or work on a contractual basis. This industry includes these job positions:

Careers

Although we listed many career options above, we wanted to include a closer look at the positions expected to experience the most growth by 2026.

  • Solar photovoltaic installers make an average salary of $39,490 and are expected to grow 104.42%.

  • Wind turbine service technicians’ median salary is $53,880 with a projected 94.83% growth rate.

  • Hazardous materials removal workers are only expected to grow 17.10%, but make $41,400 on average each year.

  • Environmental engineering technicians are projected to grow 12.35% and are paid roughly $50,230 a year.

  • Environmental science and protection technicians, including health, average an annual salary of $45,490 and is projected to grow 12.14%.

  • Environmental scientists and specialists, including health, are only projected to grow 11.06%, but their median annual wage is $69,400.

  • Environmental Engineers make an average of $86,800 a year, but are only expected to grow 8.36%.

  • Conservation scientists average about $61,480 each year and are expected to grow 6.28%.

Green Collar Companies

It’s likely you’ve heard of blue-collar workers, but have you heard of green-collar jobs? These jobs are dedicated to improving the environment by reducing waste and pollution. In addition to jobs, this term can also apply to companies that are going to the extra mile to keeping our planet clean and safe. We compiled a list of these green-collar companies that are great to work for if you’re looking for a green career:

What Type Of Education Is Required For A Green Job?

When it comes to searching for a green job, you’ll probably want to find the best education first. The good news is that you have plenty of options to choose from. If you want to go to school for a short period, or if you’re in it for the long haul, you won’t be short-changed for choosing a career that is dedicated to saving the world.

While some green careers only require an associate degree or vocational training program, other careers can be found through post-doctoral specialized training. It really just depends on what kind of student you are. If college is the route you want to take for your green career, you should have a plan in mind. You need to be aware of where you’d like to end up and what you want to get out of your educational experience.

It may be best to determine your plan by figuring out what your passion is. Take some time to evaluate what your strengths and weaknesses are. Then search for what kind of impact you’re hoping your career will have on Earth. It may even do you some good to speak with environmental professionals on what they do on a day-by-day basis. If you go the college route, you’ll probably need to decide what major fits into your passion, which leads us to what the best green majors are.

  1. Agriculture covers a lot of areas. All of the bases around producing the sustainability of healthy foods are covered under this umbrella. Within it, you’ll find lots of opportunities and specific degrees that may fit right into your passion. Some of the degrees within Agriculture include:

  2. Biology is another great degree to consider. It provides insight into a better scientific understanding of nature. You might even consider Environmental Chemistry if you’re into the science of nature.

    A lot of people associate “green” with agriculture and farming. But it’s so much more than that. These jobs involve adapting to climate change and protecting air quality:

    • Farm Manager

    • Fish and Game Warden

    • Agricultural Inspector

  3. Environmental Law is yet another direction you may be able to take your career. If you’re interested in taking a stand for Mother Nature and fighting for the little guys, this might be perfect.

  4. Renewable Energy Management might be for you if you’re interested in monitoring technology of solar, wind or hydraulic power.

  5. Waste Management, while it’s not a glamorous job or educational topic is essential when we talk about green careers. Now we’re not necessarily referencing a refuse collector. This degree could lead to anything from hazardous waste to water pollution.

Green Scholarships

Now that you have an educational plan with somewhat of an end goal in mind, you need to figure out how to pay for that education. That’s where scholarships are super helpful. The best part is that there are lots of scholarships out there that are devoted to funding your green education. You just have to find them. Lucky for you, we have a long list of green scholarships to get you started.

Annie’s Sustainable Agricultural Scholarships

Deadline: 5/15/2020

We strive to make a positive impact through the foods we make, and we know we can’t change the food system alone. Through our scholarship program, we are thrilled to support students who share our mission to leave the planet better than we found it by advancing the principles of regenerative agriculture.

CBCF Environmental Studies Scholarship

Deadline: Various

For more than three decades the CBCF in partnership with CBC Spouses has awarded scholarships to talented and deserving students. Each year, we award more than 300 scholarships to students that demonstrate leadership ability through exemplary community service and academic talent.

Eckenfelder Scholarship

Deadline: 4/15/2021

Brown and Caldwell is offering the $5000 Dr. W. Wesley Eckenfelder Scholarship to support students who are interested in pursuing a career in the environmental profession.

E-waste Scholarship

Deadline: 4/30/2021

We believe that it’s our responsibility to use technology in a way that doesn’t harm others and to be aware of the impact that technology has on our health, environment, and society at large.

EPA Marshall Scholarships

Deadline: Next Year

The goal of the ASPPH Environmental Health Fellowship Program is to provide professional training and opportunities for early career public health professionals by enabling them to work in EPA on current and emerging environmental public health needs.

EPP Undergraduate Scholarship Program

Deadline: Next Year

The EPP/MSI Undergraduate Scholarship provides funds for two years of undergraduate study to rising junior undergraduate students majoring in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields that directly support NOAA’s mission.

National Garden Clubs Scholarships

Deadline: 2/1/2021

NGC is proud of its college scholarship program which offers financial aid to students majoring in fields of study related to horticulture and the environment. Applicant must be planning a career related to gardening, landscape design, environmental issues, floral design or horticulture.

NEHA/AAS Scholarship Awards

Deadline: Next Year

Undergraduate and graduate students who are enrolled in an accredited college or university, with a dedicated and recognized curriculum in EH sciences, are eligible to apply for the NEHA/AAS Scholarship.

SERF Foundation Educational Scholarships

Deadline: Next Year

SERF Foundation supports SERF Scholars in their studies to become thought leaders in the field of green buildings and Practical Environmental Stewardship.

Udall Scholarship

Deadline: Next Year

The Udall Foundation awards scholarships to college sophomores and juniors for leadership, public service, and commitment to issues related to Native American nations or to the environment.

The Switzer Fellowship Program

Deadline: Next Year

The Switzer Environmental Fellowship Program offers one-year Fellowships to highly talented graduate students in New England and California whose studies and career goals are directed toward environmental improvement and who clearly demonstrate leadership in their field.

Steve Hansen Memorial Scholarship Fund

Deadline: Next Year

The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) is excited to announce Steve Hansen Memorial Scholarship. The given scholarship is available to students who reside in the Midwest (WI, MN, MI, IA, IL, IN, OH, MO).

Green Internships

It’s likely you understand the importance of obtaining an internship before securing a career. Not only does it give you a leg up for when you graduate, but it also helps you focus on what you’re looking for exactly in your career. From pay to benefits to the day-to-day stuff, an internship is a great opportunity to have all of your questions answered before you commit to a long-term career. Some great companies to look into for internships include:

  • ACORE

  • DTE Energy

  • Advanced Energy Industries

  • Eos Energy Storage

  • White House Council on Environment Quality

  • Ceres

  • Department of Energy

  • Environmental Protection Agency

  • Lake Flato Architects

  • National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

  • Renewable Northwest

  • Research Participant Program Internships

  • The Student Conservation Association

  • Summer Internship Program

  • Sustainable Farming Internship Program

  • Tesla Motors

  • Turner Construction Company

Many of these companies are larger or well-known organizations so they may not be readily available for you to intern at, or even feasible. You may try looking to the Green Jobs Network or Green Biz in order to find some local internships.

The Best Cities to Start Your Green Career

While you may assume the best place to start your career would be on a small farm out in the middle of nowhere, that’s actually not true. In a bigger city, you’ll have more opportunities to have a bigger impact on the environment, so we’ve laid out a list of the top cities for green careers. The list includes:

  1. San Francisco Bay Area, CA

  2. Houston, TX

  3. New York, NY

  4. Washington, D.C.

  5. Los Angeles, CA

  6. Chicago, IL

  7. Boston, MA

  8. Philadelphia, PA

  9. Denver, CO

  10. Dallas, TX

Amanda Postma
Amanda Postma
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