What is a Green Job?

The term “green jobs” is often assumed to refer to work in conservation, environmental remediation, or wildlife biology.

But when we speak about green jobs, we’re referring to something a little different.

The good green jobs we speak of include jobs in manufacturing, construction, and trades. And when we speak of a green economy, we are not talking about a portion of the economy, but rather an economy-wide transition to a resource efficient, low carbon, socially inclusive paradigm.

Often, talk of the green economy focuses on innovation and “clean tech.” Without doubt, innovation will be necessary as we move through this transition. But the greening of our economy will impact virtually every aspect of our lives and our work, plus it will create thousands of jobs as we build the infrastructure and goods we need in order to transition to a low-carbon, sustainable world.

The Green Economy Needs:

All of these skills and trades will be needed in the green economy:

  • concrete formers, solar panel installers and wind turbine technicians to install and operate renewable energy projects
  • skilled machinists, fabricators, and tool and dye workers to manufacture the components for these technologies.
  • construction workers to build green buildings and thousands of labourers to green the buildings we already have
  • small business owners to sell local and sustainable goods, farmers to grow our food, and many other skilled workers.

Examples of green jobs from initiatives to address climate change:

Here are some of green economy inititatives and the jobs they would create.

Building retrofitting:

Electricians, Heating/Air Conditioning Installers, Carpenters, Construction Equipment Operators, Roofers, Insulation Workers, Carpenter Helpers, Industrial Truck Drivers, Construction Managers, Building Inspectors

Transit:

Civil Engineers, Rail Track Layers, Electricians, Welders, Metal Fabricators, Engine Assemblers, Production Helpers, Drivers, First-Line Transportation Supervisors, Dispatchers

Energy-Efficient Automobiles:

Computer Software Engineers, Electrical Engineers, Engineering Technicians, Welders, Transportation Equipment Painters, Metal Fabricators, Computer-Controlled Machine Operators, Engine Assemblers, Production Helpers, Operations Managers

Wind Power:

Environmental Engineers, Iron and Steel Workers, Millwrights, Sheet Metal Workers, Machinists, Electrical Equipment Assemblers, Construction Equipment Operators, Industrial Truck Drivers, Industrial Production Managers, First-Line Production Supervisors

Solar Power:

Electrical Engineers, Electricians, Industrial Machinery Mechanics, Welders, Metal Fabricators, Electrical Equipment Assemblers, Construction Equipment Operators, Installation Helpers, Labourers, Construction Managers

Recycling and re-use:

Material sorters, dispatchers, truck drivers, loader operators, brokers, sales representatives, process engineers, chemists

Job examples adapted from:

Job Opportunities for the Green Economy: A State-By-State Picture of Occupations that Gain from Green Investments, Robert Pollin & Jeannette Wicks-Lim, University of Massachusetts, Amherst