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Green power: how to find your next opportunity in energy.

April 13, 2010
Sugar cane residue can be used as a biofuel
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THE NEED FOR ALTERNATIVE ENERGY sources as well as the importance of energy conservation and environmental protection will be the driving force behind job opportunities in the field of energy. It will be the foundation for what the Obama administration calls the green economy, to which it has committed more than $80 billion from the economic recovery fund.

“Green collar” jobs, as they are called, are available at a variety of skill, education, and experience levels. Engineers aren’t the only professionals in demand. Like other industries, the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors also need electricians, accountants, IT managers, assemblers, truck drivers, and other workers, according to the American Solar Energy Society.

Green jobs can be found or even created in any field as long as they truly preserve or restore the environment. Interior designers or furniture manufacturers could be considered green-collar if the material that they use is environmentally friendly. Food production, landscaping, and even manufacturing, one of the industries hardest hit by the recession, provide fertile areas for opportunity. “The electrician skills that they’ve been teaching for decades apply to building new wind farms as well,” adds Jessica Finn Coven, policy specialist and leader of the green jobs program at Climate Solutions, a regional nonprofit in Seattle.

Wind turbines and photovoltaic panels require building, installation, and maintenance. They require the same traditional skills that mechanics possess to build and maintain. Former auto industry employees could upgrade their skills to find work in a wind turbine manufacturing plant. The national average salary for this position is $50,305. A worker with fabrication and assembly line experience could garner an average salary of $35,036 as a solar fabrication technician.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, while many other industries were shedding jobs in 2008, the wind energy sector created 35,000 new jobs. Project engineers, marketing managers, and senior finance analysts are among positions available in the wind sector.

For those who are looking to get involved in the wind power industry, try states such as North Dakota and Colorado. California is another state where energy and environment-related positions in wind power are plentiful. To learn more about the wind sector and other areas of the green energy industry, visit Duke University’s Center for Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness at http://www.cggc.duke.edu/environment/climatesolutions to read the series Manufacturing Climate Solutions. To view jobs in the wind energy sector, visit http://www.awea.org/pubs/factsheets.html and click on Resources.

Green Job Training and Certification Programs

* U.S. Green Building Council

The council provides training and resources that prepare workers for the LEED Professional Accreditation exam. Credentialed professionals will be able to identify whether a green facility meets Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification standards.

http://www.usgbc.org

* The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners The board offers solar thermal installer certification for contractors, foremen, supervisors, and journeymen.

http://www.nabcep.org

* Eco Institution L.L.C.

Eco Institution’s eco consultant certification is an auditing course that prepares individuals to assist and consult others in creating eco-friendly spaces, businesses, and products.

http://www.greenconsultant.com

* American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association

The association’s rainwater harvesting professional accreditation course provides individuals with an in-depth understanding of rainwater catchment systems so they are informed enough to advise on the subject. An exam is required for accreditation.

http://www.arcsa.org

* GreenPlumbers USA

GreenPlumbers’ training is 32 hours of instruction for plumbers and other professionals in the industry about the newest energy-saving technologies in plumbing services, plumbing’s environmental impact, and implementing water conservation.

http://www.greenplumbersusa.com

–Shahdai Richardson

Professional Organizations

* The Global Wind Energy Council is a trade association that provides a forum for the wind energy sector at the international level. Its mission is to ensure that wind power is established as one of the world’s leading energy sources. http://www.gwec.net

* Social Venture Network’s mission is to inspire business and social leaders to build an equitable economy and sustainable planet. It provides forums, information, and initiatives that enable leaders to work together by sharing best practices that help companies generate healthy profits. It also offers programs that support the professional development of members.www.svn.org

* African American Environmentalist Association is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the environment; enhancing human, animal, and plant ecologies; promoting the efficient use of natural resources; and increasing African American participation in the environmental movement. The association works to clean up neighborhoods by implementing toxics education, energy, water, and clean air programs. The group resolves environmental racism and injustice issues through practical environmental solutions, http://www.aaenvironment.com

* American Association of Blacks in Energy is a national association of energy professionals dedicated to ensuring that African Americans and other minorities are involved in the discussions and developments of energy policies and regulations, research and development technologies, and environmental issues. The association also encourages African American students to pursue careers in energy-related fields and provides scholarships and other financial aid. http://www.aabe.org

* Green for All is a national organization that works to build an inclusive green economy that can lift people out of poverty. It collaborates with the business, government, labor, and grassroots communities to implement programs that increase jobs and opportunities in green industry. http://www.greenforall.org

* National Association of Energy Service Companies promotes energy efficiency in various ways, including taking part in legislative proceedings that affect energy policy. http://www.naesco.org

* American Solar Energy Society is the nation’s leading organization of solar professionals and advocates. Its mission is to inspire energy innovation and hasten the transition to a sustainable energy economy. http://www.asos.org

* The National Association of Environmental Professionals is a multidisciplinary association that promotes ethical practices, technical competency, and professional standards in the environmental fields. Members have access to the most recent developments in environmental practices, research, technology, law, and policy. http://www.naep.org

Many states have their own renewable energy, green industry, and environmental associations.–Benice Atufunwa

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