It’s no secret that both the American and global economies continue to struggle on the road to full recovery, lost in a period of downturn and stagnation that is entering its fifth year. What might be a secret for many, however, is the proliferation and popularity of green jobs amid this overall struggle.
Indeed, even as economic uncertainty claims many of the more traditional jobs around the world, those deemed “green collar” are growing in number and variety. For those workers who are looking to turn their recent struggles into a new, greener opportunity, there are some key ways to take advantage of this shift in the workplace.
The “Green Collar” Workforce is Big — and Growing
President Obama has made so secret of how he views green jobs: He has made green energy sources and eco-friendly employment options to of the main pillars of his term in office. To that end, his administration has helped to fund a number of key green industries and projects around the country. In turn, those ventures have started hiring unemployed engineers, managers, and even electricians, to help grow and expand their operations.
These job openings have become so common, in fact, that a number of online websites have been developed solely to list and advertise jobs in green industries, or with eco-friendly companies. And, contrary to popular belief, many of these green jobs build on existing skills held by businesspeople, engineers, scientists, and even manual laborers. It’s a great way to radically change the trajectory of a career that might otherwise be shut down by the struggling economy.
Turn Stimulus Funds into Personal Funds Through Entrepreneurship
The economic stimulus package passed by the Obama administration early in its term contains extensive financial rewards for entrepreneurs who “go green” with their products and services. Specializing in things like home efficiency, green-friendly renovations, or even the sale of eco-friendly products, can be a great way to earn a robust income while enjoying the benefits of a home business. The stimulus package provides for a number of great tax rebate programs to cover expenses and operating costs, and these things will help boost income levels even further.
Best of all, these positions lend themselves to advancement throughout the green industry itself. Those self-starters who begin selling green-friendly products might soon find themselves working as an eco-friendly consulting, earning considerably higher payer while providing a much-needed service to individuals and businesses. Because this field is developing, and doing so quite rapidly, taking advantage of this development can only be a good thing for income and advancement.
Go Green by Going Self-Employed
An often-overlooked way to beat the economic doldrums and engage in green-friendly activities at work is to simply leave traditional employers behind and start a home-based, self-managed business. These business are able to take advantage of great strides in technology, like video telecommuting and cloud-based data storage, and they can use a number of high-tech skills that many workers already have. Whether it’s becoming a virtual administrative assistant, employing graphic design skills for freelance clients, or even engaging in freelance writings, these home-based opportunities allow for significant income and a greatly reduced carbon footprint.
Those workers who choose to start their own business and work out of a home office are saving a great deal of money and carbon emissions by simply not commuting. Homemade lunches and even the drinking of tap water versus the office’s bottled water can make a huge impact in terms of carbon footprints and eco-friendliness. And, because these jobs often offer great tax-deductions, and the absence of a stressful boss, they’re often more lucrative and personally satisfying in the long run.
Go Back to School and Learn Green
Not everyone can use their existing skill set to become part of the growing green collar workforce. And, of course, some people simply won’t want to. In many cases, a career change can be great for career prospects and someone’s overall satisfaction. In terms of the green jobs market, that could not be more true. Colleges and universities are increasingly recognizing this trend toward green employment and a demand for those educated in the environmental sciences; to that end, a number of these institutions around the country are developing new programs to specifically train a green workforce.
Whether it’s environmental studies, green engineering, or even project management majors that focus on green tasks and deployment of technologies, universities are helping to educate and enlarge the green workforce. New students shouldn’t be the only ones who can take advantage of this development. Those who are unsatisfied with their current career trajectory should go back to school, learn a thing or two about the green workforce, learn how to write a resume that is suitable for the green field, and then become a key part of it.
Plenty of Great, Green Options
The market for eco-friendly jobs and technologies will only continue to grow as America looks for a way to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. With the right combination of private ambition, public funding, and university training tools, there are a number of great ways to leave the economic instability behind and acquire a rewarding new career.