With international concern about global warming steadily pushing both governments and individuals towards action, there is increasing demand for workers in the green economy. Is this demand sustainable though, and if so, what opportunities are there for working in the sector?
A Green Future
Much of the environmental legislation of the past has been concerned with protecting human health and enjoyment. With the focus today on combating global warming and climate change though, the green industries sector has experienced massive investment and growth to deal with the challenge.
Reports by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills among others have shown job growth in the green economy to be higher than in the economy as a whole, even during the recent global recession. This is a trend that shows no signs of wavering.
The green economy includes a range of industries and technologies including power generation, energy efficiency, organic agriculture and regulation and compliance. With such a broad reach across the economy, it’s difficult to think of a career that is unaffected by the growth in this sector.
What Jobs Are Out There?
The green energy sector has expanded in recent years. The wind turbine was once the symbol of this sector, but new tidal generation plants, solar plants and offshore wind farms are now coming to the fore. Alongside this diversification, there is a growing micro-generation sector, with individuals installing solar cells and wind turbines in their homes.
The majority of green jobs are found in the construction industry: building and maintaining new energy-efficient structures, retro-fitting older buildings, constructing wind farms, hydro-electric power stations and vast solar power farms. Alongside the construction side of this area, there is a need for engineers, architects and project managers.
The automotive industry has made great strides towards producing cleaner, greener cars over recent years. The development of networks of electrical car charging points in states such as California and countries such as Norway means that there are jobs in the design and manufacture of electric cars and in the installation of charging points. Biofuel-powered cars add another element to the mix, whilst a number of manufacturers are also working on hydrogen fuel cells, possibly the next big technology in transportation.
Outside of the design and manufacture of green technology, increasing legislation and regulation means that there are opportunities for lawyers and policy makers to contribute to the green economy also.
Where to Start
Jobs in the environmental sector are now as likely to be found in mainstream companies as in more niche players in the market. Major corporations such as Siemens and Chevrolet are heavily involved in the sector, but there are still a few specialist job markets to explore.
Job boards such as environmentjobs.com, goinggreenjobs.com and greenjobs.co.uk offer a good starting point, but as with most jobs, the key to getting a foot in the door is how you present yourself.
Stand Out from the Crowd
Whether you’re aiming for a job with a major corporate or a small co-operative, you can expect to be examined on your environmental credentials as well as your competence for the job. Ideals alone are unlikely to be enough to land your coveted job; you need to demonstrate that you can act upon your values too.
Real world work experience will place you ahead of other would-be candidates for entry level roles. You could obtain this through volunteering with a campaigning environmental charity or you could seek out practical hands-on experience of delivering sustainable energy sources.
If you lack on-the-job experience, an internship can be a valuable means of demonstrating both your commitment and your competence. Practical internships delivering renewable energy sources in the developing world are a good way of improving your skills, with an added bonus being that you can show your passion for social responsibility at the same time.
A Rational, Moral Choice
With green jobs making up an increasing proportion of the economy, it’s possible to combine a principled outlook on the world with good economic sense. With the right preparation you can find work that is ethical and pays the bills too.