Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ten Best Green Jobs for the Next Decade

#1 Be Al Gore.
Just kidding, that's not on the list.

From FastCompany:

Massive investments in clean energy promise to keep farmers, urban planners, and green-tech entrepreneurs in business for the next decade. This guide to sustainability focused career paths will help solar-charge your work life.

"It's time to bail out the people and the planet," says Van Jones, author of The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems. We agree, and this guide to to sustainability-focused career paths will help retrofit and solar-charge your work life.


America has only two million farmers, and their average age is 55. Since sustainable agriculture requires small-scale, local, organic methods rather than petroleum-based machines and fertilizers, there is a huge need for more farmers -- up to tens of millions of them, according to food guru Michael Pollan. Modern farmers are small businesspeople who must be as skilled in heirloom genetics as marketing.

Schools: University of Vermont: Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Stone Barns Center For Food & Agriculture in New York State; University of Oklahoma: Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Evergreen State College: degree in Sustainable Agriculture.

Related careers: urban gardener; farmers market and CSA coordinator; artisanal cheesemakers; and other food producers.


Modern forestry a complex combination of international project finance, conservation and development. According to the World Bank, a staggering 1.6 billion people depend on the forest for their livelihoods. Foresters help local people transition from slash-and-burn to silviculture--teaching cultivation of higher-value, faster-growing species for fruit, medicine or timber, for examples while carefully documenting the impact on the environment. Deforestation, which causes around a quarter of all global warming, is also likely to be a leading source of carbon credits worth tens of billions of dollars.

Schools: Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies; Duke University: Nicholas School of the Environment; University of Michigan: School of Natural Resources & Environment.

Companies/organizations: The Nature Conservancy; New Forests Inc.

Solar Power Installer

Making and installing solar power systems already accounts for some 770,000 jobs globally. Installing solar-thermal water heaters and rooftop photovoltaic cells is a relatively high-paying job--$15 to $35 an hour--for those with construction skills. And opportunities are available all over the United States, wherever the sun shines. Currently over 3,400 companies in the solar energy sector employ 25,000 to 35,000 workers. The Solar Energy Industries Association predicts an increase to over 110,000 jobs by 2016รข even more if anticipated tax credits are accelerated.

Companies: Akeena Solar; Sungevity; Sunpower; Full list at