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Green-Collar Jobs Are Poised for Growth

Green-Collar Jobs Are Poised for Growth

By Larry Buhl, for Yahoo! HotJobs

For career changers thinking about growth and advancement potential, forget the blue-collar and white-collar categories: Green is the way to go.

A bull market has begun to develop in green careers for job seekers and career changers. Careers promoting environmental responsibility that are now considered cutting edge will become mainstream within a decade, according to Bracken Hendricks, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

"The growth in green careers will be like the Internet boom, which not only created new jobs, but also significantly impacted the overall economy," he says. 

Wide Range of New Jobs

A study by the Cleantech Network, a venture capital firm for green business, showed that up to half a million new jobs in ecologically responsible trades will blossom in the next three years alone. And jobs will pop up at every income level, from chief sustainability officer to "green" maintenance supervisor. A few job titles poised for growth include:

  • Green Product Designer: Designs products that use less energy and raw materials to produce and consume less energy and resources to use.
     
  • Energy Rating Auditor: Performs a comprehensive analysis of a building's energy efficiency. An energy retrofitter can use an auditor's recommendations to create more efficient home heating and cooling systems for existing buildings.
     
  • Environmental Manager: Coordinates management of an organization's environmental performance to protect and conserve natural resources.
     
  • Biological Systems Engineer: Designs, manages and develops systems and equipment that produce, package, process and distribute the world's food and fiber supplies.
     
  • Permaculture Specialist: Analyzes land use and community building to create a harmonious blend of buildings, microclimate, plants, animals, soils and water.
     
  • Urban Arborist: A landscaper or greenskeeper with an understanding of conservation and renewable resources.

In addition, professionals will find opportunities by adding green to their skill sets, from accountants who can manage corporate carbon emission offsets, to zookeepers who must maintain environmentally sensitive and ecologically friendly animal habitats.

More Growth on the Horizon

Part of the growth in green-collar jobs will come from government initiatives: The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act called for considerable spending on clean energy, including $60 billion in loan guarantees for alternative energy projects.
 
In the private sector, Bank of America launched a $20 billion initiative to support environmentally sustainable business activity to address global climate change, and Citigroup announced plans to commit $50 billion to environmental projects over the next decade.

With that kind of rapid growth, supply and demand is likely to be unbalanced for a while. "If you look at jobs in solar, wind, and renewable energy management, there are very few people with the right training and this could lead to a serious labor shortage," said Rona Fried, president of Sustainablebusiness.com, a news and networking service for growing sustainable businesses.

Get in on the Action

For anyone considering a green collar-career path, consider:

  • Can Your Current Job Be 'Greened'? An employer who values you may be willing to train you to include skills to meet the goals of the company's green initiatives.
     
  • Can You Go Back to School? An increasing number of colleges are offering environmental studies programs and green MBAs.
     
  • Do You Already Have the Skills? Start on eco job boards, and check out sustainablebusiness.com, Ecojobs.com, Greenbiz.com and c. 

As in traditional careers, personal connections help in finding a green-collar job. Volunteering for an eco-friendly organization could help build those connections while doing some good for the planet.

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