Want a green job? Here’s who’s hiring in wind energy, solar

Wind energy, environmental consulting, biotechnology, and solar power were some of the fastest-growing industries in 2011, according to OilPrice.com. Which companies are doing the most hiring this year?

October 3, 2012

See the orig­i­nal arti­cle in the Chris­t­ian Sci­ence Mon­i­tor here.

posted Octo­ber 3, 2012 at 9:00 am EDT

This month has been a for­tu­itous one for green jobs, despite the ups and downs par­tic­u­larly in the wind energy sec­tor, and there are a hand­ful of com­pa­nies who seem to be on a hir­ing spree, on the look-​​out for qual­i­fied appli­cants with back­grounds in every­thing from agri­cul­ture, engi­neer­ing, con­struc­tion, design, nat­ural sci­ences and marketing.

Wind energy, envi­ron­men­tal con­sult­ing, biotech­nol­ogy, and solar power topped IBIS­World’s list of fastest-​​growing indus­tries in 2011, and Forbes listed solar installers among its high­est pay­ing jobs that require only a two-​​year degree. Beyond that, Forbes also came out with a list for 2012 of six-​​figure green jobs.
With jobs a key issue ahead of Novem­ber elec­tions, it may also come as a sur­prise that tra­di­tion­ally Republican-​​held states and swing states are lead­ing the green jobs mar­ket. Accord­ing to a report released ear­lier this month by San Fran­cisco–based DBL Part­ners, green jobs are show­ing the most growth in tra­di­tion­ally Repub­li­can and swing states. Of the top 10 states for job growth—Alaska, North Dakota, Wyoming, New Mex­ico, Nebraska, North Car­olina, Nevada, New York and Col­orado– four of them are tra­di­tion­ally Repub­li­can and four are swing states. Fur­ther­more, of those 10 states that rep­re­sent the largest per­cent­age of clean energy jobs, six are held by Repub­li­cans and one is a swing state.

To clar­ify mat­ters a bit, a green worker can be any­one from a solar panel installer and some­one who weath­er­izes your home, to a cli­ma­tol­o­gist and a sus­tain­abil­ity chief for a major company–so it’s a fairly large cat­e­gory.  The Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics defines green jobs as those that pro­duce goods or pro­vide ser­vices that ben­e­fit the envi­ron­ment or con­serve nat­ural resources, or in which work­ers’ duties involve mak­ing pro­duc­tion processes more envi­ron­men­tally friendly or resource effi­cient. (RELATEDGazprom Funds Anti-​​Fracking Cam­paigns in Europe?)

Accord­ing to The Green Job Bank, a heav­ily traf­ficked sight used by job seek­ers and employ­ers, Sep­tem­ber has seen an unusual increase in the num­ber of green job open­ings, with the bank post­ing 1,172 new job open­ings last week alone. The com­pa­nies lead­ing this appar­ent hir­ing spree include:

Envi­ron­men­tal Resources Man­age­ment (ERM)
A lead­ing provider of envi­ron­men­tal, health and risk con­sult­ing ser­vices, this global com­panyhas offices in 39 coun­tries and list 172 cur­rent job open­ings, 30 of which were added last week to The Green Job Bank.

Fos­ter City, Cal­i­for­nia–based SolarCity is said to be the US leader in full-​​service solar for res­i­den­tial home­own­ers, busi­nesses and gov­ern­ment orga­ni­za­tions. The com­pany has 129 cur­rent job open­ings, with 14 new posi­tions added last week. The com­pany is look­ing pri­mar­ily for engi­neers, elec­tri­cians, PV installers and sales man­agers. (RELATEDEnergy New Front in Eco­nomic War­fare)

San Francisco-​​based AECOM is a For­tune 500 com­pany spe­cial­iz­ing in tech­ni­cal and man­age­ment sup­port ser­vices to clients in 130 coun­tries and boast­ing rev­enues of approx­i­mately $81 bil­lion in 2011. The com­pany cur­rently has 65 job open­ings, 20 of which were added last week. The com­pany is look­ing for a range of engi­neers, biol­o­gists, design­ers, envi­ron­men­tal spe­cial­ists and busi­ness developers.

The Boston–based Energy Net­work Oper­a­tions Cen­ter (Ener­NOC), is an energy man­age­ment com­pany that “helps com­mer­cial, insti­tu­tional and indus­trial orga­ni­za­tions use energy more intel­li­gently, pay less for it, and gen­er­ate cash flow that ben­e­fits the bot­tom line”.  Last week, the com­pany has over 61 open­ings, 19 of them added last week alone, for every­thing from engi­neers and busi­ness devel­op­ers to mar­ket­ing ana­lysts and sales managers.

The Nature Con­ser­vancy
The Nature Con­ser­vancy is a non-​​profit orga­ni­za­tion, and a leader in con­ser­va­tion efforts, which makes its 50 cur­rent job open­ings that much more unusual. Some 30 of those jobs were posted dur­ing the sec­ond week of Sep­tem­ber alone. The com­pany has open­ings worldwide—from Ari­zona to Bei­jing—for every­thing from spa­tial ana­lysts, IT spe­cial­ists and biol­o­gists to pro­gram man­agers and editors.

There is more good news, too. While jobs in the oil and gas indus­try are higher-​​paying and eas­ier to come by, espe­cially in the wake of the nat­ural gas rev­o­lu­tion, it’s not all just sur­vival pay­checks in the clean energy sec­tor. A hand­ful of clean energy jobs come with six-​​figure salaries if you can make it past entry level, and the posi­tion of Chief Sus­tain­abil­ity Offi­cer tops the list, with senior engi­neers and envi­ron­men­tal lawyers also giv­ing their fos­sil fuel colleagues.