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A couple of things have typified our 21st century so far.  First; the rising awareness and discussion around the issue of sustainability. And second; a shifting economy which has negatively impacted many people’s lives, as well as traditional industries for years to come.

So, where do these things meet? Well, guest poster and careers expert Brian Jenkins weighs in on the burgeoning green industry sector. Do a demand for professionals and service people in green jobs have the potential to get millions back to work, and to set up new economic infrastructures to carry us into the future?

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What are green careers?

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Network defines green careers as any occupation that deal with developing alternative energy, conserving energy, recycling, or reducing pollution. Green jobs are found in fields like renewable energy, green building, energy efficient technologies, and sustainable agriculture. There are also jobs in the green transportation sector.

The United Nations forecasts a boom in green jobs. Its report, “Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a sustainable Low-Carbon World,” states that there is tremendous job growth in the installation and maintenance of solar PV (photovoltaic) and solar thermal systems.

Green Job Boards
The American Solar Energy Society (ASES) GreenStart Job Board is a major source for blue collar job openings in the green industry. The website provides an introduction to some of the organizations in the green economy. You can browse current job openings at companies throughout the nation.

The Green Jobs Network is a good source for blue collar/green industry jobs. It has a variety of information and numerous categories of job listings. You can also browse job resources by city or state. The website provides a listing of green job fairs, as well.

Training
There are many schools that offer training for green careers. Short hands-on training courses that last about a week are available in Solar PV, wind energy, home energy retrofit, LEEP AP for homes, residential building analyst, BPI certification, and solar thermal. Also, a Master’s Certificate in Renewable energy is available at some colleges and universities.

Some of the organizations that provide workshops for green jobs are the American Solar Energy Society, Midwest Renewable Energy Association, Solar Energy International, Solar Living Institute, and the U.S. Green Building Council.

Learn from Nonprofits
There are numerous nonprofit organizations involved in strengthening the green economy. Some of these organizations have job boards, membership lists, newsletters, local chapters, and contact names of industry leaders. Here’s a list of organizations whose websites can enhance your job hunt:

Volunteer
Volunteering at environmental organizations shows prospective employers you have a passion for environmental issues. You’ll add new contacts to your professional network, and, as an added bonus, you’ll feel good about giving back to your community.

Green Construction Jobs
Here’s a list of some green construction jobs and their suggested education levels:

  • Home improvement retrofitters install energy efficient appliances and run performance and safety tests. They’re typically entry-level jobs and only require a high school diploma or a GED.
  • Insulation installer is another entry-level job likely to experience substantial job growth as energy efficiency standards become more strict.
  • Green construction managers typically need an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in a construction-related field. Specialized training or certification in an aspect of green building is beneficial.
  • Green plumbers, carpenters, and electricians typically need trade school degrees or apprenticeships in the field. Some trade schools do actually offer a specialization area in green building.

Here’s a list of some other green job fields:

  • Solar panel installation and manufacturing
  • Manufacturing of component parts for wind towers and turbines
  • Green rooftops construction
  • Green Landscaping
  • Construction of “smart” electrical grids
  • Installation of heating and cooling systems
  • Earth and lime plastering
  • Building inspector
  • Wind power installation
  • Geothermal operation
  • Geothermal manufacturing

There are numerous blue collar/green industry jobs out there, and a number of quality resources to help you find one!

Brian Jenkins writes about many different career and education topics, including careers in construction, for BrainTrack.

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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.