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Tasneem
Johnson-Dollie
Tasneem Johnson-Dollie is a travel writer living in South Africa. She has experience in public health nutrition and worked as a dietician before launching her writing career. She loves bringing her passion for public health and sustainable development to every article she writes. Her travels around South Africa as well as to India, Australia, and Saudi Arabia have fueled her passion for exploration.

Disclaimer: The images in this article were taken pre-COVID-19.

Some people are so serious about going green that they’ve made a career out of jobs that help the environment. Would you like to count yourself as one of the crew? 

Because the green industry is growing in leaps and bounds, the field of green jobs is expanding every day. 

This means that there are tons of jobs out there that help the environment. In fact, the green industry is so vast that picking the right option from a list of green dream jobs may seem a little bit daunting at first.

That’s why we’ve done our research and narrowed the options down to present nine jobs that help the environment that you might not have known about. 

These jobs are all earth friendly. And, because they span myriad fields, there are options for every type of environmental fundi.

Let’s take a trek through the green industry to discover nine new green jobs. 

The top green dream jobs

a volunteer kickstarts her green career with GVI with a green internship

 

Sustainable development and the green industry go hand in hand. Every green job should have sustainable practices at its core. This is to ensure that what workers put in during office hours results in effective outcomes that add to addressing the world’s biggest developmental challenges.

Employees in sustainable development jobs make daily contributions to global efforts like:

Altogether, the work done by green job employees adds to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). And, more employees in the green industry means an even bigger global potential to realise these developmental goals by their 2030 deadline

You might assume that a green job has to include direct work in areas like marine and wildlife conservation, but the green industry has links to all facets of society.

Here are nine jobs that help the environment that you might not have known you could make a career out of.

1) Recycler

GVI recycling station

 

So, you may have grown up hearing about recycling and perhaps you’ve even dabbled in this green practice yourself. But, did you know that recycling is also a career path in the green industry? 

Recycling has become a mainstream practice in waste management over the last few decades. There is now so much recycled material in the system that the green industry in countries like the United States of America has categorised “recycler” as a green career all on its own. And this industry is separate from the non-recyclable refuse stream of waste management. 

If you’re looking to carve out a green career as a recycler, you could get involved in a number of different roles, including the following:

  • driver – an employee responsible for transporting recyclable materials
  • sorter – someone trained to sort recyclable materials before they’re processed
  • machinery specialist – a worker who facilitates and regulates material processing and the maintenance of machinery
  • material recovery facility manager – a highly skilled employee who oversees the entire recycling process (from collection to sales)
  • sales representative – an employee who focuses on selling the services and products offered by recycling plants
  • business owner/entrepreneur – an individual who sets up a recycling business.

The qualifications and skills you’ll need to land a green job in recycling depends on the area you’d like to specialise in. So be sure to do your research before picking your place in the recycling process. 

2) Green builder

A GVI volunteer in limpopo doing fence repairs

 

Getting involved in a green career in building is one of the ways you can reduce the impact of infrastructure development on the environment.

Green builders may be self-taught construction specialists or developers with a degree to their name. Whichever avenue you take to gain your green building skills, you’ll need to ensure that you’re able to produce green structures in any setting. You’ll also need to ensure that your work aligns with the building regulations in the areas you work in.

So, what’s the difference between a career in regular construction and a green career in building?

Well, green builders focus specifically on using building materials and techniques that reduce the environmental impact of infrastructure development while ensuring that every structure is well built.

With global concerns like the overdevelopment of natural spaces, green building isn’t just a nice alternative, it’s essential to sustainable development. 

This is why green builders need to keep in tune with current environmental issues and how their work can be adapted to add to environmental well-being in every instance. 

Signing up for an environmental internship that gives you deeper insight into global development issues is a great first step into a green career in building.

You can also join a construction internship abroad where you can gain valuable insight into development challenges facing communities and local schools around the world.

3) Solar power specialist

Solar panels on a GVI base

 

Every individual in a green job depends on energy for some part of the work that they do. 

But, what’s the point of doing green work when the energy you use has a negative effect on the environment you’re trying to make a positive impact on?

This is why generating clean energy is key to ensuring the positive outcome of sustainable development jobs. 

Clean energy is renewable. This means that the resources (like sunlight) that are used to produce it are not used up. Instead, these resources are available to use over and over again. 

Solar power is the fastest-growing source of clean energy. But, generating solar power is a technical task even on a small scale. And as the world’s population continues to grow, the demand for solar power specialists is on the rise too.

Solar power technicians for example, are responsible for assembling, installing and maintaining solar power cells. This type of green career often involves mechanical thinking and hours of outdoor work. 

To become a solar power technician, you’ll need to have a high school diploma. Many solar power companies provide the training that’ll equip you to work with their specific solar panel design. 

4) Wave energy producer

waves on seychelles island

 

Another up-and-coming source of renewable energy is the type that’s produced by waves. 

The energy captured from the movement of waves provides a powerful source of energy that can be used on a large scale – like to provide electricity to power entire cities or pump water across a country.

But extracting the energy that comes from waves isn’t easy. It requires specialised equipment and well-trained individuals to convert wave power into energy. 

Landing a green job as a wave energy producer means that you’ll be involved in one or a variety of areas within the wave generation process.

Imagine windswept terrains and wet conditions as your office. This field is a good fit for individuals with a passion for project management, all types of engineering and those who love working in the outdoors. 

You’ll need to have the appropriate qualifications to work in the various areas of wave energy production, so do your research before diving into this green career path. 

5) Water quality technician

GVI volunteers and local community members practicing good hygiene measures

 

Our sources of freshwater are significantly impacted by the effects of climate change – like more frequent droughts. That’s why keeping a close eye on the water we have is an important sustainable development job. 

Water quality technicians test and monitor water supplies and ensure that the water we use every day is safe for consumption.

While it’s possible to become a water quality technician with just a high school diploma, having experience in scientific data collection and a tertiary qualification in biotechnology can add to your employability in this green industry. 

Environmental internships with a focus on water infrastructure and water conservation can also be a great stepping stone to landing a green job in this focus area. 

6) Landscape architect

 

Individuals with an eye for environmentally friendly design help us to get the most out of the buildings and infrastructure we have without taking up too much of the natural environment.

Landscape architects are in the business of not only creating designs for buildings and infrastructure that blend in and work with the environment, they’re also responsible for bringing elements of the outdoors indoors. 

In this way, getting involved in landscape design as a green career is an opportunity to demonstrate how the built and natural environments can coexist harmoniously

Becoming a landscape architect means that you’ll need to have a good grasp of both design and the natural environment. This means you’ll need a qualification and practical experience in both these fields so that you can bring your designs to life in a real-world setting. 

7) Farm manager

GVI limpopo volunteers working on Karongwe Game Farm

 

Agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. 

Because the methane produced from farming is even better at retaining heat than some of the other greenhouse gases, agriculture may actually make a bigger contribution to global warming than other activities.

But, not all farming has a negative impact. In fact, sustainable farming and agriculture can blend into the environment and even benefit ecosystems.

Farm managers are key to ensuring that what farmers use to grow crops and raise animals, and the procedures they employ to manage their waste products, has a positive impact on the surrounding environment. 

If you’re thinking about working towards a job as a farm manager, you’ll need a degree in agriculture as well as a good understanding of how agricultural processes and sustainable development come together. 

8) Biofuel engineer

biofuel engineer

Original image: Biofuel research by Oak Ridge National Laboratory is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The fuels we use on a daily basis are a big part of increasing our carbon footprints. Burning non-renewable fuels like wood, coal and petrol adds to carbon emissions in a big way. But what can we use as an alternative?

Biofuels are fuels produced from organic matter, like plant materials. They’re great at getting the job done and produce much less carbon emissions.

Biofuel engineers work at the forefront of an innovative field. Not only are they responsible for identifying resources that can be used as biofuels, it’s also their job to get biofuel mixes just right and ensure the effectiveness of biofuel preparations.

Of course, this green job requires extensive knowledge on chemical compounds and biotechnology. So, it’s no surprise that to become a biofuel engineer, you’d need a degree in chemical engineering, as well as field experience. 

9) Natural scientist

Coral reefs play an important role in the eco-system of the ocean, which is why marine conservation of reefs is vital.

 

How does the green industry keep up with changing environmental needs and shifting global challenges?

Well, as the proverbial pulse of the green industry, natural scientists furnish the world with the information that leads the way for green job employees to do meaningful and relevant work.

As a natural scientist, you could work in any environment in the world and be involved in the collection of scientific data that grows our understanding of the world’s plants, animals and natural environments.

A natural scientist’s contribution to the analysis and reporting of scientific data is essential in building awareness of the state of the Earth and everything living on it. 

Establishing yourself in a green career in natural science means that you’ll not only be part of work that sets the foundation for all other green jobs, but you’ll also have adventure built into your office hours.

With so many areas of natural science to get involved in, an environmental internship that gives you a feel for the field as a whole is a great way to start out. This type of opportunity will allow you to gain valuable work experience while figuring out where you’d like to set off on your green career path in natural science. 

Find out more about GVI’s environmental internships that help the environment and get set to launch your green career.

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