The United States of Green Jobs: Where to Find Work Protecting the Environment
April 22nd is Earth Day and this year millions of people worldwide will take part in activities intended to promote awareness of environmental issues. And while we may live in a partisan era characterized by heated rhetoric, protecting the planet is actually something most of us agree upon.
In fact, according to a 2016 Pew survey, 74% of U.S. adults believe that the “country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment, while a mere 4% say that they “never recycle or reduce waste to protect the environment.”
We at Indeed are committed to protecting the planet, but as the largest jobs site on earth we are also interested in how the drive to “go green” intersects with the labor market. Today, there are many jobs related to environmental protection, but which are most plentiful? Which states have the most opportunities? And just how interested are job seekers in green occupations anyway?
We teamed up with Laura Schultz of the SUNY Polytechnic Institute to identify a list of green jobs where the core component is environmental preservation. Then we analyzed the data for all of 2016 to answer these questions. Here’s what we found.
Environmental specialist is the number one green job in the US
First, we decided to identify the top green job opportunities in the US today. If you want to combine a passion for protecting the environment with your career, these are the jobs with the most postings on Indeed.
In first place comes “environmental specialist.” This is a job with a pretty broad definition — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), environmental specialists “use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment and human health. They may clean up polluted areas, advise policymakers, or work with industry to reduce waste.”
It is also a job that pays quite well. The median salary was $67,460 in May 2015, which is more than twice the national figure. And there is more good news: the profession is projected to grow at 11% between 2014 and 2024, faster than the national average. On the other hand, it’s not a job that just anyone can do; a minimum of a bachelor’s degree is required.
This high skill/good pay combination is not an outlier. When we look at the other jobs in the top 10 we see terms such as “engineer, manager, technician.” You can protect the environment and make a good living — but you’ll have to get an education first.
Vermont leads for green jobs — but oil states aren’t far behind
But where are these green jobs? The short answer is “everywhere,” in that every state has opportunities for green job seekers. In some states, however, green jobs make up a larger share of job postings overall than in others. (To see the full ranking, scroll to the bottom).
As we can see, one size definitely does not fit all when it comes to green job opportunities. A state can be red or blue, industrial or agricultural, densely populated or lightly populated and still be home to many green opportunities.
Leafy Vermont holds the number one position — in fact, the share of green jobs in…