Are you wasting your green thumb in a blue-collar position? Tired of slaving away at a job that doesn't align with your principles? A green-collar career can have you earning a healthy salary while you make a real difference in your community.
What's more, green jobs are built to be sustainable.
"A job that does something for the planet and little to nothing for the people or the economy is not a green-collar job," claims the national organization Green for All. "The 'green' in green-collar is about preserving and enhancing environmental quality ... in the growing industries that are helping us kick the oil habit, curb greenhouse-gas emissions, eliminate toxins and protect natural systems."
Check out these popular great green-collar career fields, plus examples of local and national green business initiatives to get you inspired.
Green field No. 1: Engineering
A world of engineering options is available to those with the right training. Structural engineering has you working with green builders and materials to create the next generation of homes and structures. Civil engineers create city plans built around environmentally friendly guidelines, and materials engineers create the next generation of low-polluting products.
-- Solar energy grows and glows: Solar energy initiatives, such as rebate programs in California, may offer career growth during the Obama administration.
-- Career training: A bachelor's degree is generally required for entry-level engineering careers, though some technician jobs may require only an associate degree.
Green field No. 2: Conservation and forestry
Fighting at the front lines for forest conservation requires education to back up your passion. Graduates of conservation and forestry degree programs may find government jobs protecting natural spaces, consulting careers for eco-conscious timber companies and more.
-- Local forestry: Your state forestry department caters to the specific environmental needs in your area.
-- Career training: Prepare for a conservation career with a two-year degree in forestry or conservation.
Green field No. 3: Nonprofit business
Looking for a day in the office that's anything but ordinary? Consider working on a nonprofit team designed to benefit green initiatives. Grant writing, management and organizational positions make for challenging, rewarding days.
-- A driven nonprofit: I-GO Car Sharing is a nonprofit business designed to create environmentally sound car-sharing initiatives in Chicago.
-- Career training: Depending on the position you desire, education could mean an associate degree in communication, a bachelor's degree in marketing, an M.B.A. in nonprofit organizations or others.
Green field No. 4: Green vocational jobs
From installation to maintenance, eco-friendly products need specialized care. Training to become an electrician or plumber can come with the added benefit of learning green tools and techniques to pass on to your future clients.
-- Eco-friendly products: Look to specialty retailers like Green Home Experts to offer specialized green weatherizing and insulation for the home.
-- Career training: Preparing for any skilled trade typically requires a two-year vocational degree in a related field.
Green field No. 5: Landscape design
This specialized design field is not just for golf courses anymore. Green initiatives in landscape design have designers planning eco-friendly lawns and landscapes that rely on local plants and minimal water use. Known as xeriscaping, this practice has become widely popular across the United States.
-- Green-thumb landscaping: Christy Weber Landscapes is a Chicago-based landscaping company relying on progressive green landscaping techniques.
-- Career training: A bachelor's or master's degree in landscape architecture is generally required for those who want to own a specialized landscaping business.
Green field No. 6: Construction
Just like the engineers and landscape architects mentioned above, workers in construction management are finding a new market of homeowners and building managers interested in eco-friendly practices.
-- Homeowners' delight: Remodeling and construction company Airoom is a leading designer and builder for residential renovations with an eye on efficiency.
-- Career training: At the management level, a master's degree in construction management is generally preferred or required.
Green field No. 7: Green M.B.A. degrees
Do you have a great green idea that's not on the list above? An M.B.A. degree can give you the training you need to back up your passion for environmentally friendly business. M.B.A. graduates enjoy working as green business consultants, managers and entrepreneurs.
Return to A Greener You for more eco-friendly tips!
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