Having a successful career while also protecting the environment can be a difficult balance to strike. If you’re employed by a company that’s environmentally conscious or works in the environmental field, you’re in luck. If not, you may have your work cut out for you.
If you already have a career you like, but it isn’t exactly a green job, you could try to create change from within your company. See if there are any environmental programs available. If not, start a recycling program, nature cleanup project, sustainability initiative or other program.
If you’re looking for a fresh start or are just preparing to begin your career, there are plenty of choices for environmentally focused careers. Here are five of today’s top ecofriendly careers.
- Electric Vehicle Engineer
Transportation is one of the aspects of our lifestyles that cause the most environmental damage. Electric vehicles (EVs) are emerging as a potential solution to that problem. Electric car engineers design, develop and test electric vehicles.
If you want to work at an EV research facility, you’ll probably need at least a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. The investment will likely be worth it, though. Electrical engineers make an average of $93,010, and mechanical engineers make around $83,590. Mechanical engineers are projected to see job growth of around 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, while the electrical engineer job field is expected to change little.
- Wind Turbine Technician
The wind energy industry in the United States added jobs at a rate nine times higher than the rest of the economy in 2016, according to a report by the American Wind Energy Association. Wind turbine technician jobs are projected to grow 108 percent through 2024.
Wind turbine technicians work on wind farms to install, maintain and repair turbines. Windtechs, as they’re sometimes known, make an average salary of $52,260 per year. Getting a windtech job doesn’t require a degree, but most workers attend a technical school and get on-the-job training from their employer.
- Green Builder
The green architecture industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the green economy. Green buildings are designed to be as resource-efficient as possible, are often constructed from recycled materials and tend to look more natural than typical buildings. It’s becoming more common to see buildings in cities with vegetation planted on the roofs. Sometimes the roofs even double as gardens where food is grown.
Green building construction workers make around the same amount as those in other construction jobs. A typical laborer makes around $31,000 a year, while a construction manager makes around $85,000. General laborers typically don’t need a degree, but may attend a trade school. Managers either have experience with green building or a bachelor’s degree or higher in construction management. Many green construction workers have certifications in green building practices.
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- Solar Panel Installers
In a similar fashion to the wind energy industry, solar jobs are growing incredibly quickly. They grew by 25 percent from 2015 to 2016, and the industry expects to keep adding more jobs.
Solar panel installers assemble, install and maintain solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. Solar installers often need only a high school diploma or the equivalent and receive on-the-job training. Others may get training from a technical school, community college or apprenticeship program. The average salary for this type of green-collar job is $39,240 annually.
- Conservation Scientist
Conservation scientists work with landowners, government agencies or advocacy groups to help find ways to utilize land while protecting natural resources such as water and soil. They spend part of their time in an office, part of it in a lab and part of it outdoors.
Conservationists need at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as environmental science, forestry, biology or agronomy. Some also earn a master’s or Ph.D. The field is expected to grow at around the same rate as the rest of the U.S. economy. Conservations scientists typically make around $61,000 each year.
If you’re environmentally minded but still want to have a lucrative career, fear not. There are plenty of ways to make a decent living while also helping the environment. There are jobs for people who want to work outside, are good with machinery, want to get a college degree and more. Chances are, opportunities will continue to grow as the green economy expands.