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Where the Green Jobs Grow

Illustration of a female environmental engineer holding a clipboard near a dam. The text says "Green Jobs With the Most Projected Openings, 2019-2029"

Looking for a new job or considering a career change? Passionate about the environment? Here are nine jobs you should know about. Out of the earth-friendly occupations with green related job duties discussed directly in the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, these are projected to have among the most openings in the coming decade.

 

Environmental scientists and specialists

Environmental scientists and 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.

2020 median pay: $73,230

Typical entry-level education: Bachelor's degree

Number of jobs: 90,900

Projected growth, 2019-2029: 7.8% (faster than average)

Occupational openings, 2019-29 annual average: 8,900

 

Chemists

Chemists specializing in green chemistry will design chemical processes and products that are environmentally sustainable. Green chemistry processes minimize the creation of toxins and waste, and might monitor environmental conditions at a chemical plant.

2020 median pay: $79,300

Typical entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree

Number of jobs: 86,700

Projected growth, 2019-2029: 4.7% (as fast as average)

Occupational openings, 2019-29 annual average: 7,300

 

Hazardous materials removal workers

Hazmat removal workers clean up materials that are harmful to people and the environment. The specific duties of hazmat removal workers depend on the substances that are targeted and the location of the cleanup.

2020 median pay: $45,270

Typical entry-level education: High school diploma or equivalent

Number of jobs: 45,300

Projected growth, 2019-2029: 8.2% (much faster than average)

Occupational openings, 2019-29 annual average: 5,600

 

Environmental science and protection technicians

Environmental science and protection technicians monitor the environment and investigate sources of pollution and contamination, including those affecting public health.

2020 median pay: $46,850

Typical entry-level education: Associate degree

Number of jobs: 34,700

Projected growth, 2019-2029: 8.4% (much faster than average)

Occupational openings, 2019-29 annual average: 4,300

 

Environmental engineers

Environmental engineers use the principles of engineering, soil science, biology and chemistry to develop solutions to environmental problems. They work to improve recycling, waste disposal, public health, and water and air pollution control. They also address global issues, such as unsafe drinking water, climate change and environmental sustainability.

2020 median pay: $92,120

Typical entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree

Number of jobs: 55,800

Projected growth, 2019-2029: 3.1% (as fast as average)

Occupational openings, 2019-29 annual average: 3,700

 

Geoscientists

Many geoscientists are involved in the search for and development of natural resources, such as petroleum. Others work in environmental protection and preservation, and are involved in projects to clean up and reclaim land. Some specialize in a particular aspect of the Earth, such as its oceans.

2020 median pay: $93,580

Typical entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree

Number of jobs: 31,800

Projected growth, 2019-2029: 4.9% (as fast as average)

Occupational openings, 2019-29 annual average: 3,000

 

Biochemists and biophysicists

Biochemists and biophysicists study the chemical and physical principles of living things and of biological processes, such as cell development, growth, heredity, and disease. In agriculture, biochemists and biophysicists research ways to genetically engineer crops so that they will be resistant to drought, disease, insects, and other afflictions. Biochemists and biophysicists also investigate alternative fuels, such as biofuels — renewable energy sources from plants. In addition, they develop ways to protect the environment and clean up pollution.

2020 median pay: $94,270

Typical entry-level education: Doctoral or professional degree

Number of jobs: 34,600

Projected growth, 2019-2029: 4.0% (as fast as average)

Occupational openings, 2019-29 annual average: 2,900

 

Solar photovoltaic installers

Solar photovoltaic (PV) installers, also known as PV installers, assemble, set up, and maintain rooftop or other systems that convert sunlight into energy.

2020 median pay: $46,470

Typical entry-level education: High school diploma or equivalent

Number of jobs: 12,000

Projected growth, 2019-2029: 50.5% (much faster than average)

Occupational openings, 2019-29 annual average: 2,300

 

Conservation scientists

Conservation scientists manage, improve, and protect natural resources. They work with private landowners and federal, state, and local governments to find ways to use and improve the land while safeguarding the environment.

2020 median pay: $64,020

Typical entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree

Number of jobs: 24,500

Projected growth, 2019-2029: 5.1% (faster than average)

Occupational openings, 2019-29 annual average: 2,300

 

You can explore these and hundreds of other occupations in the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook. And you can find more green jobs in emerging fields in the Department of Labor’s O*Net Resource Center.

 

Bill Lawhorn is an economist in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

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