Many entering the job market are looking for careers that will help them make a positive environmental impact on the planet.
These young job seekers might be in luck. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for environmental scientists and “related specialists” will increase by 8% over the coming decade.
These jobs also pay well. The 2020 median pay for environmental scientists is $73,230, while environmental lawyers bring home a median yearly salary of $122,960.
The director of the Montclair State University PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies, Amy Tuininga sees the passion of planet-conscious young people every day in her work.
“Our students really care about having a healthy planet, a world where they can thrive,” she said. “We show them how to incorporate sustainability into their career.”
Here are five surprising jobs that help eco-warriors win.
Sustainability fund manager
“As a CPA and finance expert, I can say that one of the most significant green jobs for recent graduates is certainly a sustainability fund manager,” said Zach Reese, COO of Colony Roofers and a Certified Public Accountant in Atlanta.
According to the United Nations Conference on Trade & Development, the number of global sustainable investment funds nearly doubled between 2015-2020. As of June 2020, assets under management (AUM) were over $1.7 trillion, which account for just over 3% of the assets of the world's open-ended funds.
Eco-conscious company sales reps
“Beyond the traditional types of green energy jobs in our economy, we will also see demands for technical sales representatives that understand renewables and energy efficiency and can help sell the tech and machinery that makes ‘greening’ possible,” said Gilbert Michaud, Assistant Professor of Environmental Policy at the School of Environmental Sustainability at Loyola University in Chicago.
In May 2020, the mean annual wage for technical salespeople is $99,680, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Green construction workers
Montclair University’s Amy Tuininga especially recommended this career, especially for those living in cities.
“This is a growth industry, because many new building codes, like New York City’s new construction code LL97 that puts caps on emissions, will require the skills of those who know how to build in the new, legal way,” Tuininga said. “The market is expanding to incorporate recycling building materials like sheetrock and utilizing heat absorbed by brick buildings during the day to create heat and energy.”
These professionals are often the canaries in the coal mine of climate change, observing changing weather patterns and intensifying storms.
It’s also a job with a growing future, as meteorologists don’t just work for your local TV station, they also find jobs at research institutes, laboratories, universities, and for the federal government. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of meteorologists will go up by 6% between now and 2029) and very good pay (an average of $100,550 in May 2020, per the BLS data).
Experts in protecting natural resources from human impact, conservation scientists manage, enhance, and preserve healthy air, water, and soil. Conservation scientists protect both private and public land, and thus work with landowners and other government agencies to achieve their goals.
Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2020 median pay for a conservation scientist (the most recent figure that is available) is $64,020 per year, and is a position that only requires a bachelor’s degree. There will be higher-than-average growth in this field over the next decade, with a 5.1% increase in conservation scientist jobs between now and 2029.