Green may be a cool color, but it's red-hot when it comes to the job market. The global green economy, already worth well over $1 trillion per year, is expected to double by 2020 to $2.7 trillion. This growth factor creates a healthy outlook for jobs as companies compete to meet the demand for sustainable products and services. Some high paying green jobs are traditional occupations with a sustainable twist, while other occupations were created by the new green economy.
The process of harvesting wind and solar power gives rise to a wide range of jobs. Engineers and scientists are among the highest paid professionals working on these modern farms. Civil and aerospace engineers design and develop wind farms, turbines, rotors and solar panels. Electrical engineers work on the motors, controls, lighting and wiring that keep the systems running. scientists and researchers also support wind turbine farms and solar collection operations. These meteorologists help determine the best sites for alternative power farms based on computer models of wind and sun patterns. Logistics coordinators keep farm operations running efficiently.
While traditional real estate values have had their ups and downs, a steady demand remains for sustainable buildings, especially those with a certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Demand for jobs in the construction industry is strongest for architects and builders who are familiar with the LEED certification scheme, a point-based system that recognizes excellence in sustainability. LEED recognizes advancements in categories such as water efficiency and innovation in design. Some of the highest paying green jobs in the LEED construction field include architects, general contractors, and the same trades that build traditional homes, but with different materials and techniques. Specialists in heating and cooling systems are especially in demand.
SmartWay Supply Chain Logistics
SmartWay is an EPA program to improve energy efficiency in the U.S. supply chain. SmartWay programs help truckers and freight carriers develop sustainable transportation systems. The SmartWay vehicle system ranks commercial automobiles so consumers can quickly determine which products are environmentally friendly. Jobs in the industry include biofuel scientists, civil engineers and automobile designers. The SmartWay program also includes jobs for banking and finance professionals who administer the loans and grants that help carriers invest in fuel-efficient equipment.
Green Alternatives and Recycling
Efforts are under way to develop sustainable alternatives to many consumer products such as cleaning products and fertilizers. Once these products are developed, they must be advertised, promoted, marketed and sold, creating job opportunities along the way. Recycling, the granddaddy of the green economy, is still a big business that continues to create jobs. The green economy needs workers who can recycle existing products and build new items from post-consumer waste.
Virtually every aspect of a green economy involves legal work, making the practice of environmental law one of the highest paying green jobs available. Environmental lawyers draw up leases for wind and solar farm operations. They create limited liability companies and write agreements for joint ventures and partnerships. They advise clients on a wide range of topics such as water rights, and they prepare contracts that cover everything from transportation logistics to energy distribution. Attorneys also provide advice on compliance with environmental regulations and certification and file patents on the innovations that green research yields. Demand for specialists in environmental law is expected to continue to grow for at least the next decade.
The green economy will also add jobs in traditional occupations. Virtually every aspect of the green industry provides jobs for secretaries, bookkeepers, custodians and other office workers; specialists are needed who can install, service and maintain all that energy efficient equipment. Employment prospects are strong for these workers.