Green Energy Careers Steadily on the Rise, Gains Popularity with Students

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As social awareness about climate change and the effects that our society’s actions have on our planet become more prominent, more and more college students are becoming interested in pursuing the field of conservation and renewable energy. It’s a trend still so new that there are no specific enrollment figures for green programs available, but certain schools like the University of Colorado, Indian University, and Arizona State University do boast that their green energy programs are some of the most popular choices for their students.

While becoming an advocate for Mother Earth is enough to persuade some students to pursue these fields, some experts speculate that others are more promoted to go in the field of renewable energy research or engineering for example because the more “traditional” career choices like those in business, have seen better days. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment opportunities for business careers in finance for example will slow down significantly, but those pursuing green energy careers, such as in the wind power industry, bio energy, solar power or hydropower, will just continue to grow as the world looks for new and sustainable ways to function. That said, if you are college bound student or looking to make a change in your career, below are some popular career titles to consider.

Energy Efficiency Engineer

• What do they do? An energy efficiency engineer is responsible for identifying ways that consumers can conserve energy and be more efficient in their homes or place of business. Their expertise can be used when a new building is getting constructed, or when completely remodeling a new home for example.

• How do I get this job? The minimum requirement is a bachelor’s degree in electrical or mechanical engineering.

• What’s the job outlook? While job availability will vary between location, experts predict the job growth will only increase about 6%. However, experience and a higher education can increase your chances. Salary also varies, but the average yearly salary was $88,570 in 2010, according to the latest statistics from The Bureau.

Wind Turbine Drivetrain Engineer

• What do they do? A wind turbine drivetrain engineer is responsible for overseeing the safety, maintenance and installment of wind turbine devices on wind farms. They must also use their technical knowledge to ensure operations run smoothly or must correct the issue when malfunctions arise.

• How do I get this job? While it is possible to get a job with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, a master’s degree in the same field is typically favored.

• What’s the job outlook? Figures aren’t available on whether this specific job is in demand, but with the continuing necessity to use alternative energy, wind turbine drivetrain engineers will surely be needed. On average, wind turbine drivetrain engineers make about $62,000 a year.

Sustainability Specialist

• What do they do? A sustainability specialist is responsible for producing and implementing programs designed to improve the planet, conserve energy, and save money for their clients—whether it’s reducing the amount of energy needed to run a factory or eliminating a corporation’s carbon footprint by making employees use electric vehicles on grounds, sustainability specialists really work hard to help the environment.

• How do I get this job? In order to be found employable, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree in environmental science or environmental engineering.

• What’s the job outlook? Experts predict that employment opportunities for this field are expected to be “fair,” increasing about 13% within the next decade. Salary will vary depending on level of education and experience, but on average you can earn about $60,000 a year, according The Bureau.

Environmental Engineer

• What do they do? In a nutshell, environmental engineers are responsible for combining their knowledge in biology, chemistry and engineering in order come up with solutions to various environmental problems, including those that deal with renewable energy.

• How do I get this job? In order to become an environmental engineer, you must earn a bachelor’s degree in either environmental science, or a related field such as mechanical, civil or chemical engineering.

• Job Outlook? Employment opportunities are predicted to increase a whopping 22 percent throughout the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Pay is typically excellent as well. The average yearly salary was $78,740 in 2010, according to the latest statistics from the Bureau.

While the career titles listed above are definitely not all of the career titles offered in the green industry, they can most certainly help point you in the right direction.

Article by Maria Rainier, a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she writes about education, online colleges, online degrees etc. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.