Over the past couple of years I’ve had quite a few people emailing in asking about schools that specialize in environmental studies or “green education” so I thought is was time that I put together a thorough list of the top ten environmental (green) jobs. Included in the list are some great schools to get you started in your research.
1. Urban Farmers – Believe it or not, the number one green job is the urban farmer (gardener); and I must stress urban. Sustainable agriculture means no gas guzzling tractors and farm equipment; no petroleum based fertilizers; no genetically altered tomatoes that’ll end up bigger than my noggin. It means local, relatively small-scale production using organic processes; which in turn means there’s a high demand for urban farmers and farmers market coordinators. Did you know that only two million Americans are farmers and that their age is 55 on average? This means that there is already a need for urban farmers and soon to be even more of a need when the current farmers retire. That is why the urban farmer is top of the list!
Stone Barns Center For Food & Agriculture
Evergreen State College: degree in Sustainable Agriculture
Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture: University of Oklahoma
Center for Sustainable Agriculture: University of Vermont
2. Forester – 1.6 billion people are dependent on the forestry industry for their livelihood. With no mediator the timber industry would surely cut down and destroy all it’s assets. With deforestation attributing to about one quarter of all global warming this is something we (planet Earth) just can not afford. This is where you (the new forester) comes in. Through a combination of conservation, international project finance, and development, foresters help people realize the transition from cut-and-burn to silviculture. Calculating the impact on the environment while educating on cultivation of higher value, faster growing species for timber or fruit for example. So much to learn, so much to teach with our number two spot on the list.
3. Solar Power Installer – Where ever the sun shines there should be panels of photovoltaic cells capturing that energy, and you could be installing those solar panels or solar-thermal water heaters! And why not, the jobs are high-paying ($15 – $35 / hour or more with construction or roofing skills) and they already account for over 770,000 jobs globally. With government tax credits for business and home owners getting better and better the demand just keeps rising.
4. Energy Efficiency Builder – With 48% of all America’s energy use accounted from buildings, it’s no wonder energy efficient builders are number four on the list. The LEED has certified over 43,000 builders with their green building certification but over and above that, by far, is Germany’s Passivhaus and Switzerland’s MINGERGIE-P. With standards that use between 75% and 95% less heat energy US code. To make the US building code green enough to compare with the competition it will take not only skilled architects and engineers, but also a workforce of retrofitters.
The Earth Institute at Columbia University
Energy Performance Climate-Responsive Architecture: Arizona State University School of Architecture
Alfred A. Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning: University of Michigan
5. Wind Turbine Fabricator – This is a big one. 300,000 jobs worldwide. Since wind turbines are 90% metal by weight, that allows for re-purposed metal manufactures to get in on the action. Check out this wind energy job board to get started on your search.
6. Conservation Biologist -Teaching, research, fieldwork, non-profits. All avenues the conservation biologist can pursue. The preservation of ecosystems around the world — and to quantify the value of — ecosystems services.
7. Green MBA and Entrepreneur – This one’s all about sustainability. With a green MBA you could be in charge of making sure a global company is being run in the most sustainable way possible.
8. Recycler – There will always be a huge demand for the recycling of paper, plastic and most of all – steel. Therefore there will always be a need for companies specializing in the recycling and repurposing of these material.
9. Sustainability Systems Developer – This is the backbone of alternative energy systems. These are the software engineers who develop networks and create models of future wind farms or smart energy grids.
10. Urban Planner- Making it easier for the public to ride their bicycles to work versus using their car with new bike lanes; creation of sophisticated transit systems; someone who thinks outside the box and can continually plan for the comings of floods, garbage and heat waves. These problems are what the urban planner deals with in their job every day.
Penn Institute for Urban Research
Department of Urban Planning and Design: Harvard
Nohad A Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning: Portland State University