10 Green Jobs with High Growth Potential

10 Green Jobs with High Growth Potential

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,
these occupations are on the rise in the U.S.

Spring 2020 | Written by Arnold Kee

The employment landscape is always changing. For green jobs, though, opportunities have been steadily rising, and prospects are good for the market overall. For example, according to the 2020 U.S. Energy and Employment Report released by the National Association of State Energy Officials and the Energy Future Initiative, energy efficiency jobs alone total 2.38 million, up 2.1% from two years ago.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) defines “green jobs” based on what certain roles produce, or the processes those occupying such jobs use to complete their functions. More specifically, these jobs, over time: (a) existed in “businesses that produced goods or services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources” or (b) incorporated “duties that involved making their establishment’s production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources.”

These particular jobs were then linked with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to build a dataset that includes employment totals, salary, required education, work experience and growth predictions.

From the task level, DOL identified about 130 occupations that fit the green job definition. That list includes occupations that seem obvious, such as “climate change analyst,” as well as less obvious ones, like “nanosystems engineer.”

USGBC has narrowed the list to 10 by comparing DOL’s green jobs data with a range of roles connected directly or indirectly to LEED projects. Not all of the tasks required by these selected occupations are used in LEED. However, by using DOL’s method of breaking green jobs down to the task level and comparing them with many of the strategies employed by LEED, we are able to see stronger connections.

This subset is our own subjective “Top 10” list, since it was selected to represent diversity among available employment factors. These 10 occupations have strong growth trajectories, according to the BLS, have tasks that align or overlap with LEED strategies, and represent a range of skills and knowledge within the larger green jobs landscape.

Median wages for these jobs range from about $24 per hour for an environmental science technician to almost $50 for a construction manager. Those wages work out to salaries between $50,000 and $100,000.

All of the selected occupations are expected to experience job growth between 2018 and 2028. The projected growth ranges from 4.1% (fuel cell engineer) to 13.6% (plumber). The levels of education required also vary. Three of the occupations—climate change analyst, architect and industrial ecologist—can be expected to require master’s degrees in their fields.

In contrast, plumbers and solar energy installation managers can enter those fields with a high school diploma, associate’s degree or postsecondary certificate. Construction managers, energy auditors, environmental science technicians, fuel cell engineers and sustainability specialists will find the bachelor’s degree to be the most likely match in education requirements.

We believe that jobs that use green strategies have an evolutionary advantage, one that will become even more pronounced as the labor market responds to a more carbon-conscious economy.

Take a look at our breakdown of these green jobs with high growth potential. One of them may be right for you:

Green jobs
Green jobs

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