6 Tips for a Green Job Hunt
By official count, the United States has 3.1 million jobs where people make products or provide services to help the environment or conserve natural resources -- in other words, green jobs.
Add in jobs that don't make it into the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) formal tally -- including anyone who works for themselves in a green business or works at a company where a minority of revenue comes from green goods -- and the number is even higher, and growing.
If Earth Day, which takes place April 22, has you contemplating a career change to a green-collar job, here are some things to consider:
1. It's easier to track green job resources.
In 2010, U.S. green jobs accounted for 2.4 percent of the country's employment, according to a March 22 report from the BLS. The federal government began tracking statistics on green employment two years ago and since then has developed resources to help job seekers learn about green jobs, including the Green Careers section on the labor department's website. Job hunters can use the section to look up employment and salary data for 202 occupations and get information on degrees and other training.
2. Location matters.
If you're looking, look where jobs are most prevalent. Vermont has the highest ratio of green jobs to the general work force, with 4.4 percent of all jobs in the clean economy, according to the BLS green jobs report. The District of Columbia ranks No. 2, with 3.9 percent of positions classified as green jobs. More states are tracking green jobs and creating websites to share information. The Green Careers section of Minnesota's ISEEK career website, for example, spotlights the state's green industries and lists openings. Job hunters also can take self-assessment tests, find out what skills they'd need for various green occupations, and learn more about training, internships and volunteering. Maryland set up this Green Job page on the state's Labor Department website to share information on jobs and training. Californians, who hold 338,400 green jobs, can explore eco-friendly occupations on sites such as GreenJobsCalifornia, California Green Jobs Corps and the California Energy Commission's Clean Energy Jobs site.
3. Green job boards aren't the only places to find eco-friendly jobs.
Specialty job boards such as GreenBiz.com, Treehugger.com, BrightGreentalent, SustainLane and SustainableBusiness.com focus on green job listings. But they're not the only places to look. FlexJobs, which posts openings for part-time and other flexible work, maintains a section on environmental and green jobs. The site recently listed jobs for a senior geologist, science writer and agriculture crew coordinator, among others. A search for "green jobs" on career site InsideJobs.com brings data on dozens of occupations, from green plumbers to chief green officer (CGO). If you're job hunting on LinkedIn's Jobs section, search industry categories "Environmental Services" and "Renewables & Environment" to see green job listings.
4. Get creative.
Some green jobs aren't what you'd think. Topping the list of in-demand jobs are agricultural inspectors, bus drivers (needed to meet increased demand for public transportation) and carpenters and carpenter helpers (needed for green building and retrofitting projects), according to the Green Careers section of the labor bureau's CareerOneStop website. Likewise, you might not hear "disaster management specialist" and think "green job." But positions cleaning up after man-made disasters, developing evacuation strategies and training government employees are expected to help the emergency management specialist field grow 28.2 percent through 2013, according to this post on the career blog BrazenCareerist. The site notes that other hot eco jobs include green interior designer, environmental lawyer and vegan nutritionist.
5. Connect with industry groups.
Join an environment or green careers group on LinkedIn, or contact nonprofit environmental groups about volunteering or taking a board position to get into the industry, says GreenBiz.com executive editor Joel Makower in Tips on Finding Eco-Friendly Work at AARP.com. Or go to a green conference; the Green Festival website lists events around the country, Makower says.
6. Don't rule out tech.
More than ever, computer and other tech companies are committed to the environment, building longer-lasting devices and entering partnerships to improve sustainable business practices, writes Lauren Drell in this Mashable story. Going green also could help you make more money -- the median wage in the clean economy is 13 percent higher than the median U.S. wage, according to an infographic that accompanies the story.
Need inspiration for a green second act? Read how other midlife professionals traded in traditional careers to become a chicken advocate, organic corn chip maker, cookbook author and do other green work in 10 people who switched careers to do something sustainable on Mother Nature Network.
Read more: Layoff Plants the Seed of a New Green Career
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