Eco-friendly jobs for the environmentalist in you. The best part? There jobs are among the fastest growing sectors in the workplace!

Everyone knows we should go greener—buy local, reduce our carbon footprint, and recycle every last scrap of paper that comes our way. (I’m looking at you, 300-page budget report). But if you really want to make nice with planet earth, choose an eco-friendly profession.

Thanks to the expanding popularity of all things sustainable, green collar jobs are among the fastest growing sectors in the work place. And that mean’s these five eco jobs are not only good for the globe, but your long-term career survival as well. From where we’re standing, it’s a win-win: save the planet, save your career.

Green Interior Designer

Green interior designers blend style and sustainability. Your niche revolves around environmentally friendly materials—think mango wood, natural fabrics, or recycled glass. If you’re into more than just slapping on a coat of low-VOC paint or fluffing an organic cotton pillow, you might incorporate more heavy-duty energy-efficient design elements like a rainwater harvesting system.

While competition is keen in the world of interior design, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) maintains that job prospects are still good: general employment is expected to grow 19 percent by 2018, and the numbers are even higher in the energy efficient design area.

Average salary: $35,000–$64,000

Disaster Management Specialist

Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Radiation leaks. The world is full of potential crisis and when something goes wrong it’s your job to coordinate a lightening-fast disaster response. Not only are you in charge of developing evacuation strategies and training government employees about crowd control, you’re also behind all the post-disaster cleaning-up efforts (BP oil spill, anyone?). Mother nature, and the citizens under your care, will both thank you.

The BLS reports the emergency management specialist field is expected to grow at a 28.2% clip through next year—one of the highest growth rates of any career field. We’re not sure if this is encouraging in general (are disasters on the rise?), but it’s great news for the job market!

Average salary: $39,000–$71,000

Environmental Lawyer

Environmental lawyers are the courthouse champions of planet earth. From protecting endangered species, to enforcing pollution laws, you litigate about any and all environmental issues. You’re basically Erin Brockovich, plus a law degree.

Over the next few years, the BLS only predicts average job growth for lawyers in general. However, due to rising awareness about eco issues, environmental law is singled out as a hot spot of increasing demand.

Average salary: $72,000–$163,000

Vegan Nutritionist

Did you know that every year, hamburger consumption emits the same amount of greenhouse gas as keeping 19.6 million SUVs on the road? A vegan nutritionist probably would. You are well aware of both the health and environmental reasons for cutting animal products out of your diet and you use your nutritionist training to spread the vegan gospel. Hallelujah for tofu!

While nutrition and dietitian jobs are expected to grow at an average rate, your specialized training in how to lead a vegan lifestyle means you’ll be in high demand for both health-conscious and fad-conscious consumers.

Average salary: $42,000–$65,000

Bicycle Mechanic

Had enough of the corporate world? Don’t become a hippy, become a bike mechanic! As the most environmentally friendly mode of transportation, bicycles are a rare breed of wonderful. So keeping two-wheelers in tip top shape is an essential part of the green vehicle movement.

Plus, you’ll have plenty of job opportunities to hone your craft: bicycle mechanic positions are expected to expand at a faster than average pace.

Average salary: $20,000–$29,000

Now, you tell me: Is “green” just a buzz word, or do eco jobs actually make a difference?

Annie Favreau works for Inside Jobs, a career exploration site where people can discover what opportunities exist and learn what paths can take them there. Have an opinion? Come talk to me on Twitter @InsideJobs!

0 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Green collar career is absolutely meaningful, green life is you the right choice.

  2. MyCollegesandCareers

    I can see a Green Interior Designer doing very well in places like San Fran. A while ago I was at a Home Show in Vancouver and learned about paints that don’t leak chemicals into the air and aren’t harmful to children. They are wise choices for families. -Sarah

  3. Elinor

    What is your reference for this statement: “every year, hamburger consumption emits the same amount of greenhouse gas as keeping 19.6 million SUVs on the road”? Please support your statements with a reference if you are going to bash an important job sector (agriculture).

  4. Anonymous

    On what planet do environmental lawyers make $163K? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for all lawyers is $68,500. Public interest practitioners are not at the top of the income scale. For the most part, the attorneys who make upwards of $150 work in corporations, in corporate defense firms, or in the most successful private practices.

  5. Morana Medved

    I think that the “Green Interior Designer” is wastly mis-stated. I am an Interior Designer and a LEED AP practicing in California and even though all my projects are to some level sustainable “green” is not the terminology we use – the best term is LEED accredited professional, which includes architects, engineers, contractors and facility managers. “Green” is actually looked down upon since greenwashing has been so prevalent in our profession early on. Examples of “green” finishes are a part of it – finishes are a tiny part of the overall picture. Buildings consume more energy than cars in this country and commercial building demolition produces about one third of total waste (I don’t have references handy, but USGBC website has a lot of this information).

    A large and growing percentage of professionals practicing in architecture and construction industry is moving to a more sustainable practice and this is so much beyond a “niche” at this point. California passed a Green Building Code (CALGreen) which came into power this year, so every project in California now needs to be “green” – not just SF Bay Area. Sustainability is core element of licensing for architects, interior designers, and mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineers. And the salaries get much higher than what is listed here.

    So sustainable architecture and construction is a great field to go into, there is still growth, but keep in mind this is so much bigger than just “green finishes” – check out http://www.usgbc.org for more information.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for expanding the definition of a Green Interior Designer! It’s always great to get feedback from professionals who are “on the ground”–especially when the field is changing so rapidly. Is there another term you would suggest, other than “green,” to denote an interior designers who’s main focus is on eco-friendly spaces? Or is this something you see as applicable to all interior designers?

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