Green jobs are becoming all the rage as of late. Whatever your personal beliefs on why that’s happening, there’s no denying it’s true. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in the green energy sector, there are jobs available in a number of different areas for a varying degree of skill sets.
Here are a few examples of employment options available for those interested in pursuing a green job:
Home Energy Auditor
Job description: An energy auditor assesses both the safety and energy efficiency of a home. They typically look for areas where energy could be lost: windows, doors, attics, basements. They also assess the mechanical efficiency of home appliances such as measuring the Carbon Monoxide (CO) exhaust and operating efficiency of furnaces and air conditioning units which all leads to the primary goal of the energy audit–finding holes, cracks, penetrations, and other efficiency losses. An energy auditor will make recommendations to improve the efficiency of the home or building.
Education: The education required to be an energy auditor can range from full 4 year engineering degree to a 2 week certificate course taken at a community college.
Credentials/Licenses: It is often required by state or utility programs that a home energy auditor have specific credentials/licenses such as:
- Residential Auditor Level I – Building Performance Institute Certified (BPI) – Can do existing construction audits
- Residential Level II – Home Energy Rating System Certified (HERS) – Can do existing and new construction audits and new home blue print energy evaluations prior to construction
- Residential Level IIA – BPI/HERS + Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – Can do existing and new construction audits and new home blue print energy and environmental evaluations prior to construction.
Green Energy Program Manager/Planner
Job description: A Green energy program manager delivers both incentive and non incentive directed programs to stimulate markets so they become saturated with energy efficient and renewable energy products. There may also be a policy component which requires interaction with legislative and regulatory officials.
Education: The education typically required for a Green energy program manager ranges from a bachelor’s to a doctorate in a number of areas including sustainability, engineering, environmental science, or energy policy.
Credentials/Licenses: No licenses are typically required but the professional could benefit from the added knowledge in order to help customers.
Technician (installs solar panels, turbines, etc)
Job description: An energy efficiency or renewable energy technician is charged with safely installing a green energy or energy efficient product (ex., solar panels) for a customer. He typically works for a larger company or performs the installation himself as an independent contractor.
Education: The education required for a technician job can range from a full 4 year engineering degree, to vocational training programs to 2 week certificate course taken at community colleges. In some states, green energy technician training is being offered at vocational high schools.
Credentials/Licenses: Onsite foremen typically hold a state license for any of the following depending on the installed system: Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Contracting, Electrical Work, Geology, or Plumbing. Staff working under the foreman typically do not hold licenses beyond drivers,. Many foremen will advance their knowledge by becoming registered with national organization which may or may not require additional education.
Green Energy Educator
Job description: A green educator teaches students the basic principles of environmental science, energy efficiency and/or energy policy. Based on the type of degree program, the educator prepares the student to take the next step towards completion of a certificate program, completing licensing requirements and/or completion a formal 2-4 year degree.
Education: It is typically required that an educator have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree. Depending on the institution where the educator works, a Master’s or PhD in fields such as engineering, environmental science, or energy policy may be required.
Licenses: Beyond an advanced degree, it is not required that an educator possess any licenses beyond what is normal required to teach (ex., a high school teacher would be required to have a state teaching license). However, vocational and licensing programs are typically taught by licensed professionals.
If you’re interested in learning more about what types of jobs are available and what the requirements may be, it’s a good idea to check out job boards. Here are a few reputable sites to get you started:
- University and Higher Education Job Boards
- State Government job posting websites
- Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) http://www.seia.org/
- American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) www.awea.org
- Geothermal Energy Association http://www.geo-energy.org/
- American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) www. ashrae.org
- Electric and Gas Utility websites
Do you work in the green energy industry? If so, what do you do?
This post was written by Jana.
I don’t work in the green energy industry, but I do work in the energy industry. One other “job” that won’t require a lot of work is installing solar panels on your roof. Depending on what state you live in, you can sell the green energy attribute to companies who are state-regulated to “green” up their power portfolio.
Note: you can use the power from your panels in your own house (although you could potentially sell that too); you are simply selling companies the right to the green energy attribute (if that makes sense).
If I lived in New Jersey, say, I’d think very seriously about installing panels on my roof as solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) currently are selling for $300-$500/MWh.
Of course, if you only have a few panels, it may take you months to generate a megawatt hour (1,000 kWh), so it may take a few years to recoup your initial costs. But nearly every state regulates that green energy for electricity providers must increase every year, so there is a state-demanded demand for your product.