by Teri Fritsma

Thinking of a green career but confused about your options?  You’re not alone.   The ARRA (which seeks to create millions of new green-collar jobs) has everyone buzzing about green.  What exactly is a green job?  Where would you apply for one?  What skills or training do you need to qualify? 


We may not have all the answers, but thanks to Occupational Information Network (O*NET), we just got a lot more of them.  Yesterday, O*NET  released a research report describing the “greening of the world of work” and the implications for the U.S. jobs.  The report is a must-read for analysts, economic developers, and jobseekers interested in understanding how the economy is going green and what this means for the jobs of the future.


This post is the first in a three-part series that offers tips to jobseekers based on O*NET’s findings.  (Check back next week for Here’s Part 2 and Part 3.)



Your new green career might be right under your nose.


You might think that moving into a green job will mean a major career transition or substantial retraining.  But did you know that there could be green opportunites in your own career field?  Many traditional occupations are adding green skills, tasks, or specialty areas.  These “Green Enhanced Skills Occupations” are fundamentally the same jobs that they were before, but the nature of the work — and the skills or knowledge required — may be shifting in response to green trends.  To consider a few examples:


  •  Electrical engineers, electricians, welders, sheet metal workers, industrial truck drivers, and millwrights will all be needed to work on clean energy such as solar and wind power.
  • Carpenters, carpenter helpers, architects, construction managers, roofers, and building inspectors are all needed for building retrofitting (updating and maintaining older buildings to be more environmentally sustainable).
  • Chemical engineers, chemists, agricultural workers, and agricultural inspectors can all be involved in working on advanced biofuels.


Of course, not everyone in the occupations above are working on green projects.  Many, if not most, are still working in traditional “non-green” areas.   But tighter environmental regulations, along with increased demand for clean energy and green goods and services, mean that the “green” portions of these occupations will almost certainly expand.


What does this mean for a jobseeker or career explorer?   Well, if you’re working in trades such as Architecture & Construction, Manufacturing, or Science, Technology, Engineering & Math, don’t miss the boat.  Make sure you are aware of the latest environmental regulations and learn how these could affect your job.  Are people in your field using cleaner techniques, working with environmentally sustainable materials, or working in new clean energy areas? 


ISEEK has several resources for people who are interested in exploring green careers.  Check out our certification finder to see whether there are specialized green certifications offered in your field.  And don’t miss our green careers section for more information about the specific trends that will cause growth in green sectors of the economy.


If you’re just beginning to explore careers and are planning your education, be sure to choose training that includes a green component.  (Stay tuned to ISEEK and this blog for a list of Minnesota State College and University campuses that offer specialized green courses and training.)


Finally, check out Get a Green Career: Part 2!

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