5. Get a Green Job

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Green jobs are all the rage, and the hottest sectors are in manufacturing and the skilled building trades. Roadwork, plumbing and pipe fitting, sheet metal working, carpentry, auto parts manufacturing and solar panel installation are all traditional areas of employment that are suddenly finding green applications. Recovery Act funding has put extra money behind green industries, which will create over 100,000 jobs in solar energy by 2011, just as one example. The U.S. Department of Labor and many labor unions provide skills training to help jumpstart anyone’s transition to a cleaner planet and a greener wallet.  

And this proliferation of new green employment has been matched by the new fields of academic study for these growing industries. Traditional “green” disciplines like environmental engineering, environmental law or marine biology are now joined by innovative business, science and public policy degrees focusing on environmentalism. So consider an environmentally friendly academic program, where you’ll learn the physics of a wind turbine, the chemistry of next-generation biofuels or the politics of zoning for new green buildings in American cities. And check out green job boards at Grist, TreeHugger or Green Collar Blog to find current opportunities close to home. 

Van Jones, recently tapped as a coordinator for green jobs development at the White House Counsel on Environmental Quality, says there is room for millions of green jobs, “from a GED to a Ph.D.” So, in addition to putting current skills to use, earning that master’s or associate’s degree in these cutting edge fields could provide a way for advancement in an increasingly competitive job market.

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