Want a green job? Here’s who’s hiring in wind energy, solar

Wind energy, environmental consulting, biotechnology, and solar power were some of the fastest-growing industries in 2011, according to OilPrice.com. Which companies are doing the most hiring this year?

October 3, 2012

See the orig­i­nal arti­cle in the Chris­t­ian Sci­ence Mon­i­tor here.

post­ed Octo­ber 3, 2012 at 9:00 am EDT

This month has been a for­tu­itous one for green jobs, despite the ups and downs par­tic­u­lar­ly in the wind ener­gy sec­tor, and there are a hand­ful of com­pa­nies who seem to be on a hir­ing spree, on the look-out for qual­i­fied appli­cants with back­grounds in every­thing from agri­cul­ture, engi­neer­ing, con­struc­tion, design, nat­ur­al sci­ences and marketing.

Wind ener­gy, envi­ron­men­tal con­sult­ing, biotech­nol­o­gy, and solar pow­er topped IBIS­World’s list of fastest-grow­ing indus­tries in 2011, and Forbes list­ed solar installers among its high­est pay­ing jobs that require only a two-year degree. Beyond that, Forbes also came out with a list for 2012 of six-fig­ure green jobs.
With jobs a key issue ahead of Novem­ber elec­tions, it may also come as a sur­prise that tra­di­tion­al­ly Repub­li­can-held states and swing states are lead­ing the green jobs mar­ket. Accord­ing to a report released ear­li­er this month by San Fran­cis­co-based DBL Part­ners, green jobs are show­ing the most growth in tra­di­tion­al­ly Repub­li­can and swing states. Of the top 10 states for job growth—Alas­ka, North Dako­ta, Wyoming, New Mex­i­co, Nebras­ka, North Car­oli­na, Neva­da, New York and Col­orado– four of them are tra­di­tion­al­ly Repub­li­can and four are swing states. Fur­ther­more, of those 10 states that rep­re­sent the largest per­cent­age of clean ener­gy jobs, six are held by Repub­li­cans and one is a swing state.

To clar­i­fy mat­ters a bit, a green work­er can be any­one from a solar pan­el installer and some­one who weath­er­izes your home, to a cli­ma­tol­o­gist and a sus­tain­abil­i­ty chief for a major company–so it’s a fair­ly large cat­e­go­ry.  The Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics defines green jobs as those that pro­duce goods or pro­vide ser­vices that ben­e­fit the envi­ron­ment or con­serve nat­ur­al resources, or in which work­ers’ duties involve mak­ing pro­duc­tion process­es more envi­ron­men­tal­ly friend­ly or resource effi­cient. (RELATEDGazprom Funds Anti-Frack­ing Cam­paigns in Europe?)

Accord­ing to The Green Job Bank, a heav­i­ly traf­ficked sight used by job seek­ers and employ­ers, Sep­tem­ber has seen an unusu­al increase in the num­ber of green job open­ings, with the bank post­ing 1,172 new job open­ings last week alone. The com­pa­nies lead­ing this appar­ent hir­ing spree include:

Envi­ron­men­tal Resources Man­age­ment (ERM)
A lead­ing provider of envi­ron­men­tal, health and risk con­sult­ing ser­vices, this glob­al com­pa­nyhas offices in 39 coun­tries and list 172 cur­rent job open­ings, 30 of which were added last week to The Green Job Bank.

Fos­ter City, Cal­i­for­nia-based SolarCi­ty is said to be the US leader in full-ser­vice solar for res­i­den­tial home­own­ers, busi­ness­es and gov­ern­ment orga­ni­za­tions. The com­pa­ny has 129 cur­rent job open­ings, with 14 new posi­tions added last week. The com­pa­ny is look­ing pri­mar­i­ly for engi­neers, elec­tri­cians, PV installers and sales man­agers. (RELATEDEner­gy New Front in Eco­nom­ic War­fare)

San Fran­cis­co-based AECOM is a For­tune 500 com­pa­ny spe­cial­iz­ing in tech­ni­cal and man­age­ment sup­port ser­vices to clients in 130 coun­tries and boast­ing rev­enues of approx­i­mate­ly $81 bil­lion in 2011. The com­pa­ny cur­rent­ly has 65 job open­ings, 20 of which were added last week. The com­pa­ny is look­ing for a range of engi­neers, biol­o­gists, design­ers, envi­ron­men­tal spe­cial­ists and busi­ness developers.

The Boston-based Ener­gy Net­work Oper­a­tions Cen­ter (Ener­NOC), is an ener­gy man­age­ment com­pa­ny that “helps com­mer­cial, insti­tu­tion­al and indus­tri­al orga­ni­za­tions use ener­gy more intel­li­gent­ly, pay less for it, and gen­er­ate cash flow that ben­e­fits the bot­tom line”.  Last week, the com­pa­ny has over 61 open­ings, 19 of them added last week alone, for every­thing from engi­neers and busi­ness devel­op­ers to mar­ket­ing ana­lysts and sales managers.

The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Con­ser­van­cy is a non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion, and a leader in con­ser­va­tion efforts, which makes its 50 cur­rent job open­ings that much more unusu­al. Some 30 of those jobs were post­ed dur­ing the sec­ond week of Sep­tem­ber alone. The com­pa­ny has open­ings worldwide—from Ari­zona to Bei­jing—for every­thing from spa­tial ana­lysts, IT spe­cial­ists and biol­o­gists to pro­gram man­agers and editors.

There is more good news, too. While jobs in the oil and gas indus­try are high­er-pay­ing and eas­i­er to come by, espe­cial­ly in the wake of the nat­ur­al gas rev­o­lu­tion, it’s not all just sur­vival pay­checks in the clean ener­gy sec­tor. A hand­ful of clean ener­gy jobs come with six-fig­ure salaries if you can make it past entry lev­el, and the posi­tion of Chief Sus­tain­abil­i­ty Offi­cer tops the list, with senior engi­neers and envi­ron­men­tal lawyers also giv­ing their fos­sil fuel colleagues.