Green collar jobs

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Green collar jobs are career opportunities that integrate sustainability and mainstream businesses. In 2008, the green collar sector is booming. It is currently the fifth largest market sector in the US.

According to experts, till mid 2000s the green movement was characterized by eco apartheid -- a sharp divide between rich and poor, with each having fundamentally different priorities.

  • Rich focused on conservation and lifestyle choices
  • Poor remained concerned about basics such as health care and job creation.

Conscious citizens were adopting business models that led to the growth of green workplaces, conscious businesses, green businesses which encouraged their employees to conserve power, opt for green commute and encouraged green living practices. But such developments were happening in spurts in various pockets. Green economy still seemed a distant dream. Experts believed that green collar jobs would take the green movement mainstream and make green economy a reality.


Why should I be aware of this?

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  • On personal level -- Most of us are looking for jobs that give us the feeling of satisfaction that we have made a difference i.e. "contributed to the larger good" even as we earn money to meet our and our family's requirement. In 2008, even as the US economy experienced a downturn and job cuts became a reality, green collar jobs were experiencing a 25% growth. They were also offering better salaries.
  • On an economic level -- Experts expected green collar jobs to address issues such as climate change, racial discrimination, and economic recession as they took the green movement mainstream. Green collar jobs build a clean energy infrastructure. They are hard to outsource because most of the work, like weatherizing homes, happens on-site. Advocates are working to make the green workforce more racially inclusive. And incomes could rise as demand grows for workers left out of the oil-based economy.

How does this affect me?

  • Most green collar jobs are non-polluting and have no adverse effect on the health of the worker. For example, the air that workers breath in a coal fired power plant is more polluted than those that workers breath in a wind turbine plant.
  • Green collar jobs cannot be outsourced so there is little chance of losing jobs to underdeveloped economies with cheap labor.
  • Green collar jobs are also good for the health of the worker's family. For example, chemically hazardous waste released in the waterways of an area contaminate the ground water in that area and affect the health of the families living there.

All about green collar jobs

Any organization that seeks to improve upon the environment is a green business. If it employs individuals to that effect, then it has created green collar jobs. Green collar jobs include jobs that involve the design, manufacture, installation, operation, and/or maintenance of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

White collar jobs, green collar jobs and blue collar jobs

  • White collar employment --This includes salaried professionals and clerical workers.
  • Blue collar employment -- This involves manual labor.

Green collar workers -- Green collar jobs involve products and services that are environment-friendly. Like other sectors, green sector too has designing, manufacturing, installing, operating and maintenance units.

Green collar jobs and green jobs

  • Advocates are emphasizing that in order to be considered "green-collar" (and not merely "green") a job must be good for the worker, and also for the environment
  • It has to pay decent wages and benefits that can support a family. It has to be part of a real career path, with upward mobility. And it needs to reduce waste and pollution and benefit the environment.

Green jobs would include

  • Chief sustainability officer
  • Chief environmental officer
  • Environmental engineers
  • Environmental law
  • Mathematicians and scientists
  • Climatologists, who study climate changes, may be consulted in the design of anything from buildings to heating systems.
  • Environmental scientists studying our air, food and soil.

Green collar jobs would include

  • Wind turbine technician
  • Green roof landscaper.
  • Bus drivers of an eco friendly bus
  • Green mass transit maintenance workers.
  • Construction worker trained in energy efficiency and insulation,
  • Electrician who can install photovoltaics
  • Farmer growing organic food
  • Auto-technician building plug-in hybrids
  • Engineer programming a smart electrical grid.


Grey areas

Defining green-collar is still tricky for the purposes of designing tax incentives. If a miner extracts coke that makes steel used to assemble a wind turbine, everyone in the production chain can be counted as a green-collar worker. But not if that steel is instead molded into a Hummer


  • NewsWeek; The Growth in 'Green-Collar' Jobs
  • Time; What Is a Green-Collar Job, Exactly?
  • BusinessWeek; Switching To Green-Collar Jobs
  • Green Collar Jobs Build the Clean Energy Economy
  • The Green Collar Job Myth
  • What's A Green Collar Job?