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Beginning a Green Career

By: Thomas Muller - Updated: 25 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Green Jobs Environment Environmental

If you feel strongly about environmental issues and want to make a positive difference to the planet then there are a growing number of green jobs available to help promote your passions.

The Rise of Green Jobs

Only a few years ago if you told someone you had a green job then they would likely have assumed that you were employed in a gentle profession in the natural world, perhaps tending gardens, or studying pondweed. However, since then looming environmental catastrophe has dramatically altered the significance of green jobs, and seen them charge from the tranquil fringes of the recruitment industry towards its throbbing heart.

No longer marginal professions, green jobs are the talk of politicians across the Western world, who have hailed them as not only saviours of the natural world but also of financial ruin.

What is a Green Job?

The meteoric rise of the green job has brought with it a broadening of definition. It now refers to any position that has an active role in reducing environmental impact or promoting environmental restoration. What this means is that there is no green sector, but opportunities for green careers in virtually every industry.

A clear sign that green jobs are on the rise is the emergence of specialist eco-recruitment agencies. Evergreen Resources and ecojobs.com are a couple of those now operating on the web. More general job sites also now offer an environmental section.

Green Opportunities

At the moment, most green jobs are either within relatively small companies or occupy part of the ecological niche of a big company.

For example, BT employs a specialist marketing to broadcast their carbon-management programmes; a sales and business development team that consults with customers to assess and lower their carbon risk; and a carbon team that negotiates carbon credits with project developers to offset customers’ CO2 emissions.

However, as sustainability becomes increasingly mainstream, there are a growing number of larger environmentally focused organisations, such as Vestas. This world-leading supplier of wind power solutions offers a graduate programme for young people looking for an entry point into the renewable energy industry.

Green Employment Sectors

The areas that are most involved with environmental issues are the engineering, science, building, technology, energy and public sectors.

Engineering jobs might focus on devising how our cars can run emission-free, or on designing more efficient wind turbines. Scientists are involved in the development of environmentally friendly textiles and biodegradable plastics. The renewable energy sector is also naturally a burgeoning employment sector. Some even believe nuclear to be a green sector and, with power plants due for a revival, there will likely large employment opportunities in this area.

With environmental issues at the forefront of government and local council policies, from promoting low-carbon transport to implementing waste recycling programmes, the public sector is another major source of green job opportunities.

One of the fastest growing areas of the technology sector lies with 'clean tech' companies, which create products and services that improve performance, productivity, or efficiency while reducing costs, inputs, or pollution.

Although it barely even existed ten years ago, green building is also on the rise, having already mushroomed into a multi-billion pound industry embraced by hospitals, hotels, property builders and corporations. Keeping existing buildings up to eco standards is also an area with strong recession-resistant employment prospects.

Become an Environmental Manager

If you are unwilling to leave your company or sector but want a more environmentally fulfilling role then there may be the option of becoming an environmental manager. Many companies now employ a full-time environmental manager to rally their employees into keeping green in the workplace, such as by introducing car-sharing or bike-hire schemes or just by telling people off if they leave their computer on overnight.

Tips for Pursuing a Green Career

Although it is a burgeoning area that will keep on growing, it can still be difficult to find an entry point if your skills and experience don’t naturally qualify you for a particular green sector.

To improve your chances of getting a foot on the green ladder, it is a good idea to get involved in any kind of grass roots environmental activity. This will help you earn skills and experience and also provide networking opportunities. Non-profit organisations with missions focused on the environment and sustainability also provide a great opportunity to develop an expertise in a particular area and help get a green career off the ground.

Passion is naturally important in promoting yourself as a force for positive environmental change, but it doesn’t negate the need for knowledge. Understanding what it means to be green, and more specifically the challenges faced in operating an organisation sustainably are crucial in impressing a prospective employer.

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