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Environmental Careers for Big Money

Updated on October 4, 2016
Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

A professional career coach, Marcy has helped hundreds refine their resumes, improve their interviewing skills, and advance their careers.

How to Find an Environmental Job

Green Careers: A Growing Part of the Job Market

Are you looking for a way to improve your chances in the current tight job market? Consider converting your skills to one of the many Green careers that are becoming more and more popular. Almost every industry has either willingly or grudgingly joined the eco-bandwagon to gain a higher competitive edge and to make an impression on consumers who want to leave a smaller carbon footprint.

Some job titles almost scream green. Environmental Engineering says it all. But even if you weren’t on the cutting edge of greenness when the wave first hit the business world, you can likely find a way to adapt what you do in order to meet the environmental goals of a company or organization.

No matter what your field, chances are you can find a niche in the ever-expanding field of Green industries and careers.

Environmental Technology Degree

Environmental Conservation Skills are in Demand

How to Convert Your Job to an Environmental Career

First, look at your existing career and the skills you use to do your job. What would it take to become the go-to person for eco-issues in your field? Does your job involve solvents or other chemicals? There’s a good chance you’ll find a company that needs to up their standards in purchasing, storage or use of these products. Even companies that follow federal and local guidelines need to self-monitor and demonstrate they’re improving processes on a regular basis.

If you work in a store, check the inventory and see whether you can offer yourself as the Green Expert on how to stock products that will appeal to environmentally aware consumers. Learn as much as you can about sustainable products (think cotton, bamboo, hemp and other fibers that grow quickly and are easy to replace). You’ll find those fibers used in a multitude of products, from clothing to flooring. Your store can then advertise that it offers eco-friendly items for Earth-conscious shoppers. If your bosses haven’t become schooled in the world of Green, you may find yourself the resident expert before you know it.

Naturally (no pun intended), any firm in the energy field can be a good hunting ground for a Green Career. Energy-based firms or operations are a fertile area for green careers. Check your local business listings (the chambers of commerce are good sources for this) and look for firms that sell solar panels, solar hot water heaters or other energy saving equipment and appliances. Perhaps you can start in an entry-level position and move up (or out) once you’ve learned what they can teach you about their technology and how it works.

Look for Green Construction and Transportation Jobs

Your Job Could Lead to a Green Career

The choices for pursuing a green career are nearly unlimited. Just about any career can be adapted to fit the growing demand for Green professionals.

Are you in supply and purchasing? Show management how to buy Energy Star equipment the next time you place a big order. It will save utilities (quite a bit, actually) and may qualify for rebates or other benefits. Either way, when the Board of Directors walks through the office, they’ll be impressed to see you using printers and other equipment that saves money by reducing energy costs.

Planners and accountants can help do cost-analysis studies to add solar panels to buildings or capture water for recycling when it rains (which can then be piped into your building’s landscaping).

The transportation industry is another field ripe for harvesting green career opportunities. Loading vehicles to reduce fuel consumption and wear on tires saves millions of dollars for shipping companies with large fleets, and requires specialized (and valuable) training. Once vehicles are loaded, they’ll need to take the most efficient routes (including those that avoid traffic snarls or construction zones) to add to the savings. If your job relates to transportation, learn where the green needs are, become fluent in those areas, and market yourself as a person who can save money for your employer.

Speaking of building – increasingly, design engineers and architects need the knowledge to build Green or remodel in a more eco-friendly way. Do you need to take a few courses to gain that edge? If you don’t need the edge now, now, you will in the future.

Green careers often come with good salaries, since many duties are similar to other jobs, but the Green expertise adds value. Green jobs are expected to grow over the next decade – an estimated 20% more environmental engineers will be needed by 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s just one of many careers that will be in high demand as we continue learning how to conserve and protect our planet.

Green Business Opportunities

If you own a small business, consider applying for a government Green Energy grant to reduce the expenses of installing or upgrading your firm's infrastructure in order to conserve energy or reduce harmful emissions. You'll also save money in the future by lowering your energy bills.

Some firms have even attained Green certification through retrofitting their equipment and streamlining processes.

Green Consultants are in high demand, too, and many professionals have found that to be a good way to transition into the energy or environmental field while still focusing on their original career goals.

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  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 2 years ago from Planet Earth

    Poetryman - you are funny! I guess some consultants get paid for that - I do some consulting, though, and I've never been lucky enough to get one of those gigs!

    Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • poetryman6969 profile image

    poetryman6969 2 years ago

    I think I would like to be a consultant who never actually does anything--just advises folk and gets paid a lot. Figuring out stuff like why a certain solar installation is only converting say 5% of sunlight into electricity rather than 10% would probably be tedious!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks, Vespawoolf - from what I can tell, careers related to conservation and environmental issues will only expand in coming years. I appreciate your comments - thanks for coming by!

  • vespawoolf profile image

    vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

    You make a very convincing point about green careers! I can see this job would be so rewarding, to help a company make changes and leave a smaller carbon footprint. It would definitely be worth it to look into courses available. Thank you so much!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, cclitgirl - thanks so much for reading and sharing! I wrote the Green column for a magazine for several years, and I became evangelistic about it. The more you learn about it, the more you realize how important it is.

  • cclitgirl profile image

    Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

    I'm all for the Green Revolution. Hear, hear!! I really think our whole country needs to take the lead - and lead the world - using our minds and innovation into a greener 21st century that doesn't depend on dirty, non-renewable fuels. Thanks for writing this, voted up and SHARING.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
    Author

    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks for reading and commenting, marriedwithdebt. I think there are ups and downs in the Green field (no pun intended!) the same as with others. But the reality is that we can't escape the need to conserve resources and slow done pollution. The niche I was trying to point out (maybe it needs to be emphasized more) is the edge any career can have if people develop Green approaches to what they bring to the table. That expertise helps companies comply with regulations, can help them save money, and it helps with marketing.

    I agree there's a slow-down in everything and Green energy is not yet cost effective. But experts in making things Greener are used in other industries, too - such as researching lighter materials for aircraft, to use less fuel, or figuring how to reduce transport costs through route changes.

    I'll search for the NPR clip - I like to stay abreast of the issues. Thanks for the input!

  • marriedwithdebt profile image

    marriedwithdebt 5 years ago from Illinois

    I like green jobs because they can't be outsourced.

    But, I heard a story on NPR about how green jobs essentially are dead and aren't taking off. They are just too expensive and green energy cannot compete.