In the midst of a recession, almost everyone has been thinking of new ways to create jobs, stimulate the economy and ultimately get America back on its feet. When President Obama took office, he began to shift the focus onto the environmental sector to get these efforts rolling.
The President pledged to double the production of renewable energy over the next three years, create jobs in the development of new energy technologies and increase the energy efficiency of millions of American homes.
However, these tasks cannot be performed without skilled individuals, which is why experts are predicting the market for green jobs to skyrocket.
For example, the total number of recycling jobs in the U.S. is currently estimated to be more than one million. In addition to this, new laws and regulations related to waste and disposal have created a need for companies to close the loop through recycling, especially when it comes to electronic waste, augmenting the demand for these services.
How We Fit In
The public has been instrumental in the rise of support for green jobs. In fact, Feb. 4 marked the the first official Green Jobs Advocacy Day. Thousands of proponents from around the country gathered on Capitol Hill to lobby for good-paying, green jobs.
According to a report by Sen. Debbie Stabennow (D-Mich) and Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash), these jobs are crucial to the nation’s economic growth.
“Requiring that green-sector companies receiving economic development subsidies provide wages and benefits high enough to allow workers to achieve self-sufficiency standards will help realize the promise of the clean-energy revolution,” the report states.
So, what are the hottest jobs right now? Here’s a quick overview of the occupations that make an environmental impact and may provide what every job-seeker in America is looking for: security.
1. Conservation Biologist
Average Annual Income: $52,480
Fast Company calls this occupation an “urgent quest to preserve the integrity of ecosystems around the world.” Technically, conservation biology is the science of nature and study of the status of Earth’s biodiversity with the aim of protecting species. In layman’s terms, this is a textbook definition of an environmental “superhero.” So, what would you do with a conservation biology degree? It’s not all lab coats and beakers. This career can lead to opportunities in teaching, research, fieldwork, government and non-profit work.
2. Urban Planner
Average Annual Income: $45,250
As an urban planner, one main feature is having (almost) complete control on how large a city’s carbon footprint will be. Everything from transportation and building layout to emergency planning is all in your hands. Sound like a big job? That’s why it’s one of our favorite positions. Another cool aspect? Employment in this sector is projected to grow by 15 percent by 2016 – predominantly in local governments.
3. Solar Power Installer
Average Hourly Income: $15 to $35
For those with a construction background, this is a higher-paying job that makes for an easier transition into the green scene. And don’t be concerned: You don’t have to live in the desert to find work in this ever-growing renewable energy market – opportunities abound anywhere the sun shints. In fact, making and installing solar power system already accounts for an estimated 770,000 jobs globally, and in the U.S. alone, more than 3,400 companies in the solar sector employ 25,000 to 35,000 workers. This number is expected to grow as new laws have been passed for additional tax rebates for installing solar panels.
4. Science Teacher
Average Annual Income: $41,400 to $45,920
Everything we needed to know we learned in science class. Well, maybe not everything we need to know, but incorporating eco-ideas into the classroom is an instrumental way to instill the next generation with environmentally friendly ideals. A child’s mind is like a sponge, so soaking up the importance of habits such as recycling makes perfect sense in an early education curriculum. Plus, encouraging students to explore the world around them, be curious and ask questions will help develop tomorrow’s researchers and innovators.
5. Chief Sustainability Officer
Average Annual Income: Varies based on size of business
Looking for something that pays a little more? Topping Forbes’ list of Six-Figure Green Jobs, a Chief Sustainability Officer is put in place to make sure the company is adhering to government regulations while strategizing profitable and environmentally friendly initiatives for the company. This position is definitely all business, but you can bring in some green ideology. More and more companies (think: AT&T, DuPont) are creating this position as environmental issues are topping priority lists.