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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

En español | For those of you looking for a job or a different career, there’s some good news: Green jobs — that is, those with an eco-friendly focus — are expected to grow in the coming years. In fact, a report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors forecasts that as many as 3.5 million green jobs will be created by 2028 (PDF) in everything from generating renewable power to retrofitting buildings.

See also: Nonprofit organization job tips.

What’s more, if you want to go green in your next job, you needn’t worry about having to have a green résumé. Many of the skills you’ve developed in prior jobs are exactly those you’ll need in the new market. If, for example, you have technical skills in engineering, architecture, accounting, marketing or project management, you’ll find job openings at solar energy firms, renewable energy outfits and others.

Even established businesses are adding workers and jobs with a green focus. What employer doesn’t want to find ways to shed waste responsibly and cut utility bills with efficient energy use? It takes people who have been project managers, worked a sales beat and are handy at media relations to run even the small-scale eco-friendly programs now under way and get the word out about them to the outside world.

“There’s no shortage of new graduates coming into the green market, but many organizations are foundering because they need workers with expertise and gravitas, who have the seasoned skills — whether it is communications skills or management skills, or strategy skills,” says Joel Makower, executive editor of GreenBiz.com.

Great jobs for boomers interested in the environment and environmental issues- a heart carved into a tree

Passionate about environmental issues? Find a green job! — Photo by Noll Images

Interested? Here are five jobs to consider, depending on your skills and interests. Pay varies based on factors such as experience and where you live. Salary figures are primarily derived from U.S. Department of Labor data.

1. Green building consultant

The nitty-gritty: If you’re genuinely interested in building a post-retirement career with a green bent, it’s worth the time and effort to head back to the classroom. In general, a background in architecture, engineering and construction will give you a firm foundation. Older buildings, in particular, are getting serious facelifts. States, counties and cities are offering incentives targeted at green building projects. You probably need a grasp of (or the burning desire to learn) the technical aspects of building construction, say, the nature of leaky windows, the best ways to use natural lighting, energy-efficient heating and air-conditioning systems (HVAC), plus water-smart features such as low-pressure faucets and toilets.

Pay range: Salaries can run from $75,000 a year in Portland, Maine, and San Antonio, Texas, to $118,000 in New York.

Qualifications: The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program offers certification that leads to a credential as a green building specialist. That’s your calling card to offer strategic advice on a wide range of building projects. The Green Building Certification Institute provides information, as does its parent organization, the U.S. Green Building Council.

2. Waste consultant

The nitty-gritty: If you’re a recycling devotee, you’ll revel in the chance to help companies and residential communities reduce waste. Show that your efforts save money and you’ve won a convert to your cause. Consulting opportunities can be found in both government offices and private companies. Waste consultants may also be called recycling consultants, or waste reduction coordinators. Consider specializing in a certain area, such as paper or food. You’ll of course need data to back up your efforts. Don’t be fooled into thinking everyone is on board with green initiatives.

Next: How much does a waste consultant make per hour? »

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