Are You Green Jobs Ready?

The answer might surprise you. Here's what you need to know about the opportunities and challenges.


Green may be the new black for African Americans seeking jobs during a downturn that has hit our community harder than other groups.

Mention green jobs--ones that come from industries relating to renewable and clean energy, as well as energy conservation and other methods to improve the environment--and images of solar panels and wind turbines may come to mind. Not surprisingly, many of us struggle to relate to such images because they are not a part of our daily lives. Few people think of welders, electrical installers and bus drivers as part of the green jobs movement.

But indeed, they are.

Green-collar workers retrofit buildings to make them more efficient, install efficient heating and cooling windows and systems, repair hybrid cars, recycle electronic materials, plant trees and much more. Many jobs in emerging green sectors such as green manufacturing, wind power and public transportation require "blue-collar" skilled labor.

"One of the hot 'green jobs' areas at the moment is weatherization," said Anca Novacovici, founder of Eco-Coach, an environmental sustainability advisory firm based in Washington, D.C.

"This has been one of the focuses of the stimulus package, and many urban areas have started training programs on this. Another has been energy auditing, focused mainly on the residential sector," said Novacovici.

The pay range for energy audits can range from $200 to $500 per audit, while weatherization wages depend on where you live, she said.

Zach Rose, founder of Green Education Services, a New York-based company selling green jobs training, said the most popular emerging green jobs include:

LEED (leadership in energy and environmental design) project administrators and construction superintendents

Home and commercial energy auditors