What are green careers? And why are they popular?

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What are green careers exaclty? Have you ever thought about pursuing a career in a green industry? The renewable energy field presents a variety of job opportunities. Applicants from various professional and education backgrounds may succeed in green industries.

green jobs

Q. What are green careers? And why are they popular all of a sudden?

A. Green careers are those that aim to improve the environment — either locally or globally. Because the environment is receiving so much attention, in the form of new laws, international treaties, and consumer demand, governments and companies are pouring money into "green" initiatives. They are developing earth-friendly products and cleaner ways of doing things. Trained professionals are needed to help implement these changes.

Q. What are the different types of green careers?

A. Green careers can be divided into four main categories. These categories are very broad. They include organic farmers, environmental lawyers, and bio-fuel engineers.

  1. Outdoor & Field-based jobs — like wildlife preservation
  2. Traditional jobs with "green" alternatives — like construction and auto manufacturing
  3. Renewable energy jobs — like solar panel installation and wind turbine technology
  4. Compliance & Policy-making jobs — like Environmental Protection Agency officers

Q. What is renewable energy? And why is this such a fast-growing industry?

Up until now, human beings have mostly relied on non-renewable energy — including oil, coal, and natural gas. These resources, also called fossil fuels, are finite. Once we use up the earth's supply, these fossil fuels will be gone forever. In the meantime, fossil fuels emit carbon dioxide when they are burned. Thanks to millions of cars, planes, appliances, and factories, carbon dioxide levels are way too high. They're polluting the air and raising the earth's temperature at an alarming rate.

In order to counteract pollution, and to help conserve our remaining fossil fuels, companies are trying to use alternative energy sources known as "renewable energy." Renewable energy is cleaner and cheaper, and the government offers tax breaks to companies that switch.

Renewable energy sources can be divided into 4 main categories:

  1. Solar energy
  2. Geothermal energy
  3. Wind energy
  4. Bio-fuel energy

Q. I've never studied science or engineering. Will I have to go to school for a million years in order to get a job in this industry?

A. No. It is true that many engineers and scientists will be leading the movement towards a greener planet, but there are thousands of job opportunities for professionals who have backgrounds in construction, automotive mechanics, business, finance, sales, and accounting.

You might choose to earn an online degree in environmental science. You may work toward a green-related associate's degree in engineering or business. You could also start your career with a short-term trade certificate. Many entry-level and mid-level jobs in this industry are held by people who completed just 2 to 4 years of college.

Q. What are some examples of green job titles?

  • Conservation Scientist
  • Hydrologist
  • Enivronmental Engineer
  • Energy Auditor
  • Urban and Regional Planner

Q. Where are green jobs located?

A. Green job opportunities are available all across the country — and internationally, as well. It's true that the top spots for clean tech jobs are San Francisco and Los Angeles, but experts are clear that every part of the country will be affected by this job boom.

Q. I'd like to explore the new branch of "green trades." What are they?

A. Green trades are branches of skilled labor that make use of green energy. Nowadays, many trade schools and technical certificate programs — for plumbing, electrical trades, construction, and HVAC — are incorporating green skills into their traditional curriculum. Students are wise to enroll in trade programs that include some aspect of green education, because more and more clients want to use recycled materials and energy-efficient systems in their projects. This is true for residential, commercial, and industrial work.

Q. Everyone is talking about the new "smart grid." What is the smart grid?

A. Our country is powered by a massive, electricity transmissions system, or "grid." Right now, we've outgrown the existing grid, so we're getting ready for a new version. The aptly named "smart grid" will eliminate blackouts while making U.S. energy cleaner, more secure, and more efficient. It will use digital intelligence and two-way communication to detect outage risks, and to conserve energy. Smart grid jobs will become a major part of the green economy.

Q. How can I get hired to work on the smart grid?

A. You might be surprised to know that the smart grid system will cover all of North America, not just the major urban areas. Consequently, the electricity sector of the North American economy is projected to boom over the next 10 years. As the smart grid system is implemented, thousands of newly trained technicians will be needed.

If you're planning a career in electrical work, indoor climate systems, plumbing, or photovoltaics, you will be a part of the smart grid boom. Choose a career college that will prepare you for basic installation, maintenance, and repair, plus offer sustainability training. If you're not interested in trade education, you can also benefit from the smart grid job boom with a degree in design, marketing, or engineering.