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How to Find a Green Job

Considering a new line of work? Recycling, energy efficiency and eco-friendly careers are on the rise

Median hourly pay: Income levels vary widely by employer and location. Consultants’ pay range: $11.64 to $62.69 per hour.

Qualifications: It’s a smorgasbord. Knowledge of recycling programs from previous work, even on a volunteer basis, shows you know what you’re talking about. You’ll need clear communication skills to explain what the program is all about and why it matters. Sales chops will help you persuade people to actually stick with it. Project management ability will ensure that your program runs smoothly. Accounting basics will prove that it’s worth an employer’s while. The National Recycling Coalition offers webinars on a range of recycling topics and more. Some states now offer recycling certification programs via local colleges. Rutgers University, for example, offers a New Jersey recycling 21-day certification program.

3. Park guide

The nitty-gritty: Each year the National Park Service as well as state and local parks hire temporary and seasonal employees. You might be in charge of basic tasks like collecting fees at the entry gate, answering visitor questions and passing out maps and brochures. With a little homework, you might find yourself teaching brief educational programs about the park ecosystem from bear habitats to flora and fauna. Those of you with a fit physique might step it up with trail upkeep responsibilities or tour guiding.

Median pay range: National Parks: $13 to $26-plus an hour. You might opt to work as a National Park Service volunteer, too, where your only pay may be free housing or a pad for your RV.

Qualifications: National Park Service employees may undergo a security background check. Knowledge of the park’s history, geology and botany will come in handy for guide work and presentations. To find a job at a National Park, check the park’s website and click on “About Us” and then “Work With Us,” or go to  Check with your state’s department of parks and recreation for local openings.

4. Eco-landscaper

The nitty-gritty: Gardening is not for sissies. It’s mostly outdoor work in all kinds of weather. From a purely physical perspective, it means bending, squatting, lifting and pulling — unless you can hire a brawny assistant to handle those chores. The goal of building “sustainable” gardens is generally to create landscaping that’s cheaper to maintain over time, all lofty environmental goals aside. To do it right, you’ll need to be able to make money-smart choices based on a deep understanding of native plants. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so you’ll work closely with your clients to create a space that works best for them and the environment.

Next: Could you see yourself as a vehicle emission inspector? »

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