Want to do your part to save the planet while also making money? Perhaps it’s time to look into one of these sustainability careers and green jobs. For every interest, skill level, and educational background, we have something here for you. But before that, let’s first see a few reasons to consider being part of this industry:
- You’ll be doing good work for the planet and helping preserve our environment for future generations.
- It’s a growth industry. This means career opportunities.
- Many sustainability jobs are highly varied and interesting.
- If you don’t want to be in front of a screen all the time, there are a lot of green jobs available for you.
- There are positions at a wide range of levels available, from entry/low skilled to highly skilled roles.
Five Sustainability Careers and Green Jobs
Solar PV System Installer
The solar revolution kicked off in earnest around 10 to 15 years ago and continues to grow. Solar panels reliably supply power without burning fossil fuels and are being installed in all countries.
A solar PV installer will install systems on rooftops or may be involved in installing large ground-mounted systems. Depending on the country you are from, there may be licensing requirements. Cable connections to and from the inverter – the component that connects the solar panels to the electrical grid – must be undertaken by a licensed electrician. If you start off as an assistant, there is a career path to becoming an electrician (involving study and licensing).
With solar technology ever improving, this is a sector where there are a lot of opportunities to learn. A solar PV designer will undertake the electrical design of a system. Designers will usually use software tools to help with the design and need an understanding of electrical engineering. Electricians can design smaller systems; larger systems usually require electrical engineering expertise.
There are also career opportunities in equipment testing and certification, sales, and solar business management. Upstream in the supply chain, there are opportunities in assembly and manufacture.
Recycling Plant Technician
Another one on this list of sustainability careers and green jobs you might consider is becoming a recycling plant technician. There is a range of career paths. You could get involved in municipal recycling, which involves sorting, crushing, and packing material sent in for recycling, such as paper, plastics, etc.
There are opportunities in machine operation, machine maintenance, and the design and manufacture of recycling machinery. Additionally, with an increasing focus on the circular economy, there are opportunities in science and engineering to create and invent new processes to recycle and reuse waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
There are opportunities in recycling for mechanics, fabricators, maintenance technicians, operators, chemists, biologists, engineers, researchers, managers, and others. Who knows, you could become the next Isaac Newton in the recycling field! If this isn’t for you, our next feature on this sustainability careers and green jobs list might suit you.
As we move from centralized energy grids, based on large coal or nuclear-powered power stations, to distributed energy resources (DER), new electricity networks are being built, and energy generation equipment will increasingly be found in remote regions.
When people need to gather information in the field to inspect energy generation and transmission infrastructure or for monitoring wilderness areas, water pipelines, or similar, individuals usually need to travel from one place to another. This process is not only time-consuming but also polluting. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, can cut down the time required and the amount of pollution, and there are opportunities in this area for those who are tech-savvy.
Working as a drone operator, you’d be responsible for operating and monitoring UAVs. It can be like playing a video game; only the sights you see and the information you gather are real. Sadly, if you crash your drone, a few mouse clicks won’t restore it! Perhaps you can become a top gun, famed for never crashing.
If you like coding, machine learning, AI, linear algebra, and similar, you may like to get into semi-autonomous or autonomous drones, which you program to do tasks that might otherwise be pretty boring (inspecting a powerline) but which are important in keeping remote solar and wind farms operating. Or perhaps you can get into micro-drones, e.g., for inspecting air conditioning ducts and equipment to enable maintenance to help it continue to operate at high efficiency.
There are also opportunities to create purpose-built drones. Can you imagine building yourself your own robot? Or coming up with new ways to combine hardware and software with helping achieve sustainability outcomes? It’s exciting and fulfilling at the same time.
Being an environmental engineer/scientist means you can assess human activity and its effects on the environment. From these environmental impact assessments, you design interventions to control the damage or regenerate what was lost due to human behaviors.
You can choose a specialization if you want to focus more on air, soil, or water management. You might even consider learning all to broaden your career options. There are opportunities in consulting, leading projects, research, and innovation.
The last job on this short and incomplete sustainability careers and green jobs list is to consider becoming a sustainability manager. This career is one of the most rewarding yet one of the most challenging professions in sustainability. As a sustainability manager, you’ll usually be working in a larger business and taking responsibility for helping the company become more sustainable. You’ll help your company make more effective decisions leading to improved social, economic, and environmental outcomes. You’ll likely collaborate or liaise with the government, the community, and your fellow experts.
Your responsibility is to mitigate environmental problems, create interventions, and suggest solutions to environmental concerns. If you are looking for a new career or starting out for the first time, it can be hard to decide which way to go. In this article, I’ve aimed to give you exposure to just a few of the many sustainability careers, both those which are well established and new and emerging careers.
Be Part of the Change
These sustainability careers and green jobs are only some of the many in the industry. No matter what you choose, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you are working for the good of the environment, and all of us, by helping improve the health of our planet earth.
Are you looking forward to boosting your career? You might like our next article about the seven habits to boost your sustainability career.