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By Jen Alic
Wind energy, environmental consulting, biotechnology, and solar power topped IBISWorld’s list of fastest-growing industries in 2011, and Forbes listed solar installers among its highest paying jobs that require only a two-year degree. Beyond that, Forbes also came out with a list for 2012 of six-figure green jobs.
With jobs a key issue ahead of November elections, it may also come as a surprise that traditionally Republican-held states and swing states are leading the green jobs market. According to a report released earlier this month by San Francisco-based DBL Investors, green jobs are showing the most growth in traditionally Republican and swing states. Of the top 10 states for job growth—Alaska, North Dakota, Wyoming, New Mexico, Nebraska, North Carolina, Nevada, New York and Colorado-- four of them are traditionally Republican and four are swing states. Furthermore, of those 10 states that represent the largest percentage of clean energy jobs, six are held by Republicans and one is a swing state.
To clarify matters a bit, a green worker can be anyone from a solar panel installer and someone who weatherizes your home, to a climatologist and a sustainability chief for a major company--so it’s a fairly large category. The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines green jobs as those that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources, or in which workers’ duties involve making production processes more environmentally friendly or resource efficient.
According to The Green Job Bank, a heavily trafficked sight used by job seekers and employers, September has seen an unusual increase in the number of green job openings, with the bank posting 1,172 new job openings last week alone. The companies leading this apparent hiring spree include:
Environmental Resources Management (ERM)
A leading provider of environmental, health and risk consulting services, this global company has offices in 39 countries and list 172 current job openings, 30 of which were added last week to The Green Job Bank.
Foster City, California-based SolarCity is said to be the US leader in full-service solar for residential homeowners, businesses and government organizations. The company has 129 current job openings, with 14 new positions added last week. The company is looking primarily for engineers, electricians, PV installers and sales managers.
San Francisco-based AECOM is a Fortune 500 company specializing in technical and management support services to clients in 130 countries and boasting revenues of approximately $81 billion in 2011. The company currently has 65 job openings, 20 of which were added last week. The company is looking for a range of engineers, biologists, designers, environmental specialists and business developers.
The Boston-based Energy Network Operations Center (EnerNOC), is an energy management company that “helps commercial, institutional and industrial organizations use energy more intelligently, pay less for it, and generate cash flow that benefits the bottom line”. Last week, the company has over 61 openings, 19 of them added last week alone, for everything from engineers and business developers to marketing analysts and sales managers.
The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy is a non-profit organization, and a leader in conservation efforts, which makes its 50 current job openings that much more unusual. Some 30 of those jobs were posted during the second week of September alone. The company has openings worldwide—from Arizona to Beijing—for everything from spatial analysts, IT specialists and biologists to program managers and editors.
There is more good news, too. While jobs in the oil and gas industry are higher-paying and easier to come by, especially in the wake of the natural gas revolution, it’s not all just survival paychecks in the clean energy sector. A handful of clean energy jobs come with six-figure salaries if you can make it past entry level, and the position of Chief Sustainability Officer tops the list, with senior engineers and environmental lawyers also giving their fossil fuel colleagues.
image: © Dominic Alves