The Highest Paying Environmental Jobs

Sat, Feb 25, 2012

6. Misc.

You might think that jobs in environmentalism require scads of college degrees and a willingness to work for a pittance in the pursuit of a green dream. While you can certainly live on a communal organic farm or chase whaling boats in your ethanol-powered dingy, there are actually a lot of legitimate environmental jobs out there that require professionals – and pay accordingly. So if you’re looking to move into this growing field (and earn enough to pay your college loans) here are a few positions that will give you all the green you can handle.

  1. Wind Turbine Technician. With all the hype over solar power, most people aren’t that familiar with other alternative sources of energy. But wind turbines are a growing field (no pun intended) in the eco-energy market. And considering that many states are now creating legislation that calls for increases in alternative energy, the demand for solar, wind, water, and geothermal power sources only stands to grow in the coming years. Plus, you only need an associate’s degree (or in some cases a high-school diploma will do) in order to perform maintenance on these giant windmills. And considering you could earn over $50K, it’s a pretty good way to get a job on the green scene.
  2. Solar Power Engineer. Like most fields in engineering (computer, civil, mechanical, etc.) this is one that is growing despite the recession, and will likely continue to grow over the next several years. So if you’re interested in working to expand the solar marketplace by creating newer and better solar power collection and storage, or you’re simply keen to install and service existing units, get yourself into bachelor’s program for engineering and you could soon find yourself earning around $65,000 per year.
  3. Nonprofit Organization Executive Director. Just because nonprofit organizations don’t technically earn a “profit” doesn’t mean their employees have to work for free. So if you like the idea of spearheading the next Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund, or Friends of the Earth (just to name a few of the biggies) and you have a master’s degree in business management (or something remotely related to managing an environmental nonprofit) you stand to earn upwards of $65,000 annually.
  4. LEED Project Manager. In order to obtain a coveted LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification, the highest standard in green building, a construction project has to meet stringent codes and criteria. So companies that are willing to spend the big bucks to buy eco-friendly materials and jump through all the hoops required for certification won’t bat an eye at paying a little more for labor. As a result, LEED Project Managers can expect to pull in an average of just over $80,000. Not bad considering that a bachelor’s degree is all that is needed to nab this position.
  5. Environmental engineering manager. With technology expanding rapidly and money pouring into eco-innovation, environmental engineers are in high demand, as are qualified (and experienced) individuals that can lead teams of engineers. Plus, you can expect to bring home an annual salary that tops the six figure mark (although just barely), and all you’ll need to get started is a bachelor’s of science in engineering. With this job you’ll be one of the few Americans that isn’t looking into a credit card to rebuild credit as the economy rights itself.
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