It isn’t every college student’s dream to save endangered species, stop climate change and make record sales, but it looks like that’s where the future industry of “green” jobs is headed. Traditionally, students who wanted to find work with an environmental group would need a degree in biology or chemistry, today they should also be focused on business degrees. Why? Global giants like Facebook and Google are hiring business-savvy environmentalists who can help make profitable changes to the company.
Conserving the Earth’s natural resources, rebuilding diminished animal and plant populations and constructing new ways in which modern humans can nurture their world is an amazing and laudable feat – but it hasn’t always been easy for an entrepreneur to keep his or her high level of morality and actually make a living. Saving endangered species isn’t cheap, and it rarely pays. Climate change scientists are more in demand, but there are only so many avenues these professionals can take. Fortunately, the business end of the environmental industry is finally starting to catch up, which means more money for job-seekers with the right qualifications.
More often than not, being the owner of an environmentally-friendly business with locally-sourced products and services in the 1990s meant that you were going to be overpowered by immoral companies who simply used the cheapest labor and sold the cheapest products. Thanks to the tireless efforts of more than 40 years worth of environmental activists, “green” businesses have become not only much more credible, but more marketable. More workers want to pursue jobs in environmentally and socially ethical businesses, and more customers want to spend their money on “green” items as opposed to traditionally-sourced items.
In 2012, a report put together by the U.S Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics defined “green jobs” as jobs that fit into one of two categories. The first category is comprised of “jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources.” The second category includes “jobs in which workers’ duties involve making their establishment’s production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources.”
Green Careers Worth Considering:
Environmental Law – A law degree coupled with the desire to protect the Earth’s natural environment can really take you places, and it can certainly make you some good money. Brandishing your legal license, you can take down companies who are polluting and illegally dumping harmful waste, as well as protect nature reserves and support animal rights. You can also keep companies like Facebook and Google out of trouble with the law by helping their CEOs to better understand environmental law.
Green Business Consultanting – Consultants never go out of style. As long as you have a great education and the drive to succeed on a freelance basis, you can market yourself as a “green consultant” to businesses who want to become more sustainable and environmentally-friendly. This is where your business degree comes into play in a big way, because consulting means not only making good environmental decisions but making good sales decisions. Consultants teach others how to succeed.
Earth Sciences – Climatologists, soil scientists and other Earth science experts are already making a huge impact on the global economy. These highly-educated professionals are relied on by business owners and investors to paint an accurate picture of the planet’s future so that they might plan accordingly. Earth scientists can also become directly involved in endangered species and climate change campaigns.
Architecture – With an architecural degree and proper licensing, you could be the next Christopher Wren…only this time the focus isn’t so much on oppulance as it is on making the most out of your space and sourcing sustainable materials. Architects are needed for all big companies – who do you think designed the Google flagship building? As an architectural designer you can ensure that the best environmental decisions are being made for corporate buildings everywhere.
Civil Engineering – This is a fun job that involves knowledge about architecture, city planning, politics, government and social issues. It’s the perfect career for smart people who are interested in knowing how everything works and making it better. These professionals are not only necessary for government bodies, but also for corporate bodies. As a civil engineer with a top company, you can help influence CEOs to make better decisions that affect endangered species and other terrestrial issues such as climate chagne.
Organic Agriculture – It’s back to the basics, redefined for a more sustainable food industry. Making a marked change from the type of pesticide-laden, genetically-modified-seed-based farming that has dominated agriculture since the mid-20th century is incredibly important.
Computer Sciences – Computer sciences are largely responsible for the success of green companies because of better, cheaper ways to access information and start a business. Advances in computer science mean less paper waste and more digital access and information.
Publishing – Especially in the digital age, publishing is an industry that really stands to make a difference on an environmental level. Every year, more established publications move online and reduce the number of pages printed. As the trend continues, publishing needs to grow to embrace different types of digital advertising and content sharing, so the job prospects here are limitless.
Corporate Business – Really! These days, skilled businessmen and women can find CEO positions with corporations who either want to change their image or embrace sustainable and environmentally-friendly roots.
Bring Home the Organic Bread AND Butter
Joel Makower, author of Strategies for the Green Economy says, “Rather than flooding the business world with environmentalists, we need people with traditional skills that understand challenges and opportunities in a growing green economy.” One need not pursue an obscure Doctorate to obtain a successful “green” career; right now, traditional industries need an environmentally-friendly, socially-conscious makeover just as much as Mark Zuckerberg needs technicians to help him distribute free internet and Facebook to the entire world. Without a reliable and sustainable infrastructure, the digital economy can only spread so far. If you want the world to be “green”, change needs to happen from the bottom to the top.
The future of endangered species and climate change depends on the career moves that we make now. “Green” jobs aren’t always as obvious as they used to be, but both environmental education and sales savvy are becoming important job skills.
By Mandy Gardner
BLS: Green Definition
Forbes: Six-Figure Green Jobs
National Geographic: Green Jobs