Dear Working Wise:
I’ve been hearing a lot about “green-collar jobs” lately. What are green-collar jobs, do they pay well, and is anyone hiring for them? Signed, Green Job Hunter
Dear Green Job Hunter:
The definition of a green-collar job, or green job, is still a little vague, but the Sightline Institute defines green-collar jobs as: “workers who devote their hours to boosting energy efficiency, increasing renewable energy, or reducing pollution,” [www.sightline.org].
Salaries for green jobs vary according to a number of factors, including region, organization size, industry group, and seniority. A compensation report conducted by ECO Canada in 2008 found the following annual salary ranges based upon seniority:
$35,000 - Entry Level
$40,000 – $50,000 - Junior
$50,000 – $62,000 - Intermediate
$62,000 – $80,000 - Senior
$80,000 – $100,000+ - Principal
The outlook for green jobs seems to be good. A 2008 employer survey by ECO Canada found that 65 per cent of employers in the environmental sector were expecting to grow within the next two years.
The survey found that growth expectations varied by the type of work, but all were positive:
+ 14% - Air Quality
+ 10% - Restoration and Reclamation
+ 8% - Research and Development
+ 7% - Natural Resource management
Green jobs seem to permeate a wide variety of occupations. Scientists and engineers are needed to design and develop new green technologies and products.
Manufacturers are needed to build these new solutions and make them economically viable.
Project Managers are needed to ensure the completion of complex projects such as the installation of a wind farm or the construction of a building that meets LEED certification.
Skilled trades people are needed to construct green projects install new machinery and use new products and techniques to build more environmentally friendly buildings.
Technicians are needed to operate these new machines and buildings and make them perform to their specifications.
Public-engagement professionals are needed to build public support and participation in green projects and fundraisers are needed to help raise money for environmental advocacy.
Early green jobs were mostly remediation and site clean-up work, linked to land, air and water quality, but the industry has evolved to become more preventative and encourage sustainable development.
According to ECO Canada, the five hottest green jobs in 2010 will be:
1. Conservation Officer
2. Waste-management Specialist
3. Aquatics/Marine Biologist
4. Environmental Assessment Analyst
Other green careers include: land-use planners, land-reclamation workers, energy-efficiency auditors, weatherproofing installers, auto-parts dismantlers, recycling-plant sorters, asbestos-removal workers, solar-panel salespeople, emissions traders, carbon-capture technicians, and wind-farm planners and farmers.
As you can see, some of green jobs are new while others already exist. The focus, tools and techniques of these jobs may change, but the core skills will remain the same.
Sheet-metal workers will find work installing energy efficient furnaces. Electricians will be busy installing new solar-panel systems and replacing inefficient lighting systems. And plumbers will find work installing low-flow toilets and solar-water heaters.
The five most in-demand green jobs right now, according to ECO Canada, are:
1. Environmental Engineer
2. Environmental Technician/Technologist
3. Remediation Specialist
4. Air-quality Technician/Technologist
For more information on green-collar jobs, including available training, check out the ECO Canada web site at: www.eco.ca. They have a free job board for green jobs and occupational profiles on more than 100 environmental occupations. GoodWork Canada also offers a free green job postings at www.goodworkcanada.ca.
Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Charles Strachey is a regional manager with Alberta Employment and Immigration. This column is provided for general information.