As the United States invests more in sustainability, careers in clean energy and other sustainable fields are in demand, and applicable to almost all skill sets. And the money isn’t too bad either. In fact, according to the U.S. government, green jobs pay 10% to 20% more than other jobs ). So if you are just starting out in the work force or are in need of a career change, a job in a sustainable field may be right for you.
If you studied engineering — whether civil, mechanical or chemical — your chances of landing a job in a sustainable field are about as high as they can get. Electrical/design engineer, wind energy engineer and solar process engineer all made Sustainable Business’ top 20 green job titles list. In particular, the U.S. government’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design is in need of engineers as it works to construct green buildings, homes and spaces. And it’s no wonder, as new green technology develops, there will be higher demand for workers with the smarts to build them.
As demand for clean energy grows, skilled construction workers are needed to build and install the technology. According to Fast Company, installing rooftop photovoltaic cells and other solar equipment, for example, can earn skilled workers up to $35 an hour. Wind energy is another area in need of construction workers. According to a 2010 report by Vice President Joe Biden, millions of dollars have already been invested in this field. For example, $24.7 million was granted to the Massachusetts Clean Energy to construct a wind blade testing facility.
Seeking more energy independence has led to increased U.S. investment in alternatives to fossil fuel. Under the Recovery Act, the United States has allocated $2 billion for grants for the manufacturing of advanced battery systems and vehicle batteries, including hybrid electrical systems. For example, Johnson Controls won a $299 million grant to build a battery manufacturing facility in Holland, Mich. According to Biden’s report, the project has created or saved at least 500 jobs.
If you have an advanced degree like a Master of Business Administration or law degree, you have your pick of the sustainable job litter, as many companies — both in the profit and nonprofit sectors — are looking for skilled leaders with the business savvy to help them make a difference. Among Sustainable Business’ top 20 green job titles are executive director of a nonprofit, sustainability manager and business development manager. Citing a report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Mayors Climate Protection Center, Fast Company noted that legal, research and consulting account for more than 400,000 green jobs.
Getting our cities and towns running more sustainably takes people with the skills and insight to get the job done. One area where this is needed is in developing clean, affordable travel options for all. To this end, the Recovery Act has invested heavily. For example, approximately $61 million was awarded to the city of Dallas to fund the 14-mile Orange Line rail construction project, which has helped add more than 200 businesses to the area.