Helping to protect the planet by promoting sustainability can also be good for your bottom line. Many eco-friendly, or green, jobs are expected to grow over the next decade, according to an April 2019 report from The Bureau of Labor Statistics, and many of them pay well, too.
The BLS identified 10 environmentally focused careers, which, it notes, pay "well above the $38,640 median annual wage for all occupations in 2018." These are hands-on jobs that tend to require specific expertise and training, as well as, at minimum, an associate's or a bachelor's degree. People in these professions tend to work directly with agriculture or natural resources. They may also analyze data in a lab to seek solutions to environmental problems, like water pollution or waste disposal.
Here are four green jobs with high median annual wages in 2018 that will also, BLS predicts, see "rapid employment growth."
Median annual wage: $50,560
After environmental engineers develop devices used to clean up pollution, technicians step in to put them to work. It's also typical for technicians to test, operate, and modify that equipment while analyzing soil or groundwater samples. Although that may include disposing lead, asbestos, and other hazardous material, according to the BLS. On the plus side, an associate degree is all that's needed to enter the field.
Median annual wage: $71,130
Broadly speaking, environmental scientists and specialists look at the way humans impact the earth. That means they seek out solutions to environmental problems often caused by hazards or pollutants, like contaminated air or water supplies.
They also consult on new developments and construction, providing their expertise to identify if and how a new project poses a threat to the environment, according to the BLS.
"The biggest opportunity in construction [is developing] new forms of concrete that absorb carbon rather than give it out," says Devin Thorpe, an author, educator, and founder of the Your Mark on the World Center, which works on global issues like climate change. Concrete is responsible for 8% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions, which can contribute to global warming. A master's degree is preferred for this field.
Median annual wage: $79,370
Hydrologists analyze how the movement of water influences the environment. Hydrologists spend time in the field collecting water and soil samples to test pH or pollution levels, and that may require hiking for long distances while carrying necessary equipment, according to the BLS.
Some hydrologists begin their careers with a master's degree. Advanced researchers typically need a Ph.D.
Median annual wage: $94,110
Atmospheric scientists study the weather and climate to develop forecasts and tools to collect weather data and advise clients on weather-related risks.
A typical day for a meteorologist includes weather reporting and in some cases, issuing warnings on massive weather events, like hurricanes. Thorpe says big companies will want a meteorologist to manage and assess risks that the climate may pose to their business. Climate research positions need a master's degree at least and usually a Ph.D, according to the BLS.
Green jobs will indeed likely boom over the next decade, agrees Thorpe. And they can also serve as great opportunities for job-seekers: "A lot of us tend to have an altruistic desire to help others do good, and [green jobs] are a way of satisfying that desire while making a living."
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