Green Jobs

Friday, October 7th, 2011

When considering an education in sustainability it is important to consider what you will do with that education once completed. Most of us choose to further our education in hopes that it will prepare us for a good, high paying, satisfying career and make us more competitive in the job market. As it turns out, sustainability education is a perfect candidate for this.

From 1998 to 2007, green job growth outpaced overall job growth in the US 9.1 percent to 3.7 percent, 150% higher ( According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, growth in environment related jobs is expected to be 38% higher than all other occupations combined by 2016.

Stephen Hinton, Managing Director of Hinton Human Capital, identifies 27 fields in which he believes high paying green jobs will be available (

  1. Accounting/Forensic Accounting
  2. Alternative Energy
  3. Architecture
  4. Atmospheric Sciences
  5. Carbon Consulting
  6. Carbon Sequestration/Capture
  7. Computer Aided Design
  8. Civil Engineering
  9. Electrical Engineering
  10. Emissions Trading
  11. Energy Management
  12. Environmental Engineering
  13. Environmental Information Systems
  14. Environmental Scientist
  15. Forestry
  16. Geographic Information Systems/Remote Sensing
  17. Greenhouse Gas Auditing/Compliance
  18. Geotechnical Engineering
  19. Industrial Waste Treatment/Solid Waste/Hazardous Waste Managers
  20. Landscape Architecture/Horticulture
  21. Mechanical Engineering (HVAC)
  22. Nuclear Engineering
  23. Recycling
  24. Regulatory/Government compliance
  25. Risk Management/Insurance
  26. Structural Engineering
  27. Transit /Light Rail

Most of these jobs are in technical areas for which the US currently has a shortage of professionals when compared with other countries due to low graduation numbers in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics fields. Education is the key component to prepare for one of these careers.

In addition, green jobs are going to be vital to our economy as we move into the future. Cristina DiPasquale and Kate Gordon from the Center for American Progress argue that green jobs are a key to jump starting our economy, reducing unemployment, keeping us competitive in the global economy, and protecting public health. They give 10 reasons why this is true today and into the future (

  1. There are already 2.7 million jobs in the clean economy. Clean energy is already producing more jobs than the fossil fuel sector.
  2. For every $1million spent on clean energy projects, 16.7 green jobs are created compared to 5.3 jobs in the fossil fuel industry for the same money invested (over 3x more).
  3. The clean energy sector grew at a rate of 8.3 percent from 2003 to 2010, nearly double the growth rate of the overall economy.
  4. Cleaner car and truck production employs over 150,000 people in the US today and this is going to increase as efficiency standards increase.
  5. Median wages in the green energy sector are 13% higher than average.
  6. Green jobs are American jobs and spur innovation.
  7. In 2010 we imported over $250 billion of petroleum products while exporting $1.9 billion of solar power components to countries such as China.
  8. 25,000 American construction workers were employed in three months by three separate programs for energy efficient retrofits (and over 500,000 buildings were upgraded).
  9. Clean energy jobs are good for US small businesses. 91% of the firms involved in retrofits have less than 20 employees.
  10. A large number of green jobs are manufacturing jobs and jobs with upward career paths. 26% are in manufacturing compared to 9% overall, and 41% offer long-term career building and training opportunities.

The bottom line is there will be an increasing demand for professionals with green and sustainability skills and knowledge, and sustainability education is the perfect path to prepare to take advantage of these opportunities.

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