The following is a guest post by Ezra Drissman of GreenCareersGuide
If you thought 2009 was a year that green took over, then think again. Over the next 10 years, the green industry is predicted to experience growth in the neighborhood of 1.5 trillion dollars. Green will continue to shape the foods we eat, the products we buy and the way we get around -- and increasingly the green jobs we have.
According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, by 2007, more than 68,200 businesses across the country accounted for more than 770,000 jobs in clean energy, "despite a lack of sustained government support in the past decade." This is expected to increase with fresh help from the Obama administration. In 2008 alone, private investors directed $5.9 billion into American businesses in this sector, a 48% increase over 2007. This rate should continue to accelerate.
Here are five green careers that are not entirely new, but are now being completely reinvented. If you want to keep a competitive advantage in the workforce, one must learn how these top-growing jobs are "going green." These fields, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), are expected to see a growth from six to nearly 30%.
-- $47,000 to $50,000 median salary range, according to the BLS.
The teaching field is expected to expand by almost 20% in the coming years. What's exciting is that weaving green practices into the classroom is becoming much more commonplace. Many schools are on the forefront of using clean energy. And science teachers are in the most demand.
Beyond the basics like environmental science, many community colleges have expanded offerings in courses like solar panel installation and energy efficient building; universities have expanded environmental policy and politics offerings, often developing entirely new departments and curricula; and graduate programs are routinely offering advanced courses in a range of subjects, like corporate sustainability. There are even green MBA programs. All of these new positions need teachers to fill them.
Becoming a teacher at the high school level involves a college diploma and generally a teaching certificate; teaching at the college level typically requires at least a master's degree. If you are an out-of-work professional you may want to consider getting a teaching certificate. While the full degree may cost you around $8 to $20 thousand a year, a teaching certificate may cost around half.
In order to really save money, you might want to consider community college first. This will allow you to take general education classes at a much more affordable price. Don't forget that there are plenty of student loans available through the federal government. A guidance counselor will be able to point you in the right direction.
-- $56,000 to $94,000 median salary range (BLS).
One of the hardest hit fields in the recent recession has been engineering, due to contractions in the auto industry and infrastructure spending. Fortunately, this profession has numerous applications in the green field. Environmental engineers are expected to see a 30% increase in jobs over the next ten years. They will be vital in the wind and solar fields. In addition, environmental engineer technicians and civil engineers should see a 25% growth.
If you are looking for a job in this field, a great place to start is the American Academy of Environmental Engineers. You may also want to plug yourself into the Association of Energy Engineers, which offers training for engineers to become energy auditors.
-- $15 to $25/hr (BLS).
If you are looking for a great green job and are not interested in the college route, then heating and cooling could be the field for you. It is expected to see more than 28% growth in the coming years. Being able to install an extremely efficient solar water heater can not only put more money in your pocket, it will save the customer money in the long term and help them go green. Installers are able to put some of the most cutting edge energy-saving products to use right away. Another reason for the strong growth is the increasing emphasis on green building, supported by the United States Green Building Council and the federal and state and local governments. Heating and cooling play a big role in energy saving.
For a more specialized training, look into geothermal. One particular training provider in this area is the GeoExchange, which can help you find the programs to get started today!
-- $9 to $14/hr (BLS).
If you want to get a green job outdoors then this may be the career for you. There are many variations of this job. Tree trimmers, pruners and landscapers are expected to see more than 26% growth. Green arborists help protect plants from disease and pests with less-toxic, environmentally friendly techniques. They can also work to minimize harmful runoff, protect watersheds and shade property, which leads to less energy demands for cooling.
A good place to start learning about the career is the Arbor Day Foundation.
-- $59,000 to $94,000 median (BLS).
Mechanical engineering will have many opportunities in the future. However, you don't have to wait to start in green areas of this field. Nearly all energy areas, including wind and solar, need these engineers.
You will need a four-year engineering degree to start. If you have your degree, there are three great websites that can help you work green: the American Wind Energy Association, the Solar Energy Industries Association and the American Solar Energy Society.
Finding a green job is getting easier every day. If these don't work for you, make sure to check out nearly 100 more at Green Careers Guide.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.