Top 10 Fastest Growing Jobs in Environmental Science

The field of environmental science jobs is rapidly expanding as more and more people are seeking ways to reduce their carbon footprint and save the environment. In a recent National Geographic article, they evaluated and discussed many of the newest and fastest growing jobs in the environmental science field. The top 10 are discussed below.

1. Biofuels

According to the EPA Energy Independence & Security Act (2007), “renewable fuel must increase from 9 billion gallons (34 billion liters) of US motor fuel in 2008 to 36 billion gallons (136 billion liters) by 2022.” That policy has cultivated the rapidly growing biofuel industry and the creation of new green jobs. Some of those jobs include employment for construction workers to build ethanol plants and employees to operate them. Workers are also needed to produce the feedstock and operate the delivery infrastructure. 

2. Wind Energy 

The US Energy Information Administration advised that during 2010, the utilization of wind power for energy has increased dramatically from 28 to 60%. In their estimation, that basically “accounts for 2.3% of the nation’s total electric power generation.” In the National Geographic study, they found that the US Energy Information Administration reported approximately 6.3% of electricity in the EU was generated by wind in 2011. It is estimated that wind energy production will supply one-third of the global community by 2050. That means a large number of positions will be created in this field in the next three decades.

3. Wave Energy

According to National Geographic, wave power has enormous potential. However, the industry is still small today. Yet, there has recently been an influx of new jobs in this field. One example is the Pelamis P2 Wave Energy Generator which utilizes the colossal motion of the ocean to generate power. This device was first put into operation in Scotland in November 2011. National Geographic stated that, “Its 750-kilowatt rating generates enough power per year to meet the average electric needs of 500 homes.”

4. Green Design

Green design is the process of utilizing living plants and other products of nature as renewable resources in design. The Living Roof is the perfect example of green design at its best. It is a roofing shelter for the California Academy of Sciences building. However, it also provides a home to over 1.7 million plants, all part of a grouping of nine native species which are well-suited to survive the distinctive climate of Golden Gate Park. This industry is quickly growing and there are many green design jobs available.

5. Solar Cell

Solar cell engineers need to wear protective clothing and eyewear in the laboratories. National Geographic advised that the European Commission claims “production of solar cells and photovoltaic systems has doubled every two years during the past decade.” One drawback in this field is that the costs of harvesting these cells are high and the process is not completely efficient yet. However, Germany is leading the global community, having over 40,000 solar cell workers.

6. Green Builders

Green builders take green design to the next level. They utilize green building techniques as a means of constructing buildings—such as schools. According to National Geographic, these builders use “ecologically friendly materials, such as the earth, and discarded refuse, such as tires and plastic bottles.” The purpose of green builders is to create a nontoxic and durable structure by repurposing refuse.

7. Natural Scientists

This field of study and the ensuing employment opportunities is on the rise as nations are seeking ways to better understand nature and the world we live in. One example that National Geographic cited in their article was of a diver—working in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia—testing the acidity of ocean water in order to detect evidence of climate change and the subsequent impacts on the ecosystem.

8. Recyclers

According to the American Forest & Paper Association, the US is one of the leading global recyclers of paper. In 2011, more than two-thirds of the paper consumed was recovered and recycled instead of being sent to the landfills. The Environmental Protection Agency advised that over one-third of the “raw material used at US paper mills is recovered paper.” This entire process of recovering and recycling paper creates a multitude of jobs in addition to greatly impacting the environment in a positive manner.

9. Clean Car Engineers

The production of electric cars is on the rise. The manufacturing of such vehicles has created the majority of the current market of green jobs. According to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Report, “more than 462,000 of the nation’s 3.1 million” jobs are in the environmental science field. The remanufacturing of car parts and vehicles is another sector of the green job movement as retooling and refurbishing is enabling less consumption of fossil fuels and less pollution.

10. Urban Growers

Green gardens in the cities and urban environments are a source of food for locals. They also minimize the necessity of pesticides and fossil fuels. Urban growers cut down on transportation costs and resources used by various commercial farms in the rural areas since the food is grown directly where the larger need is. According to National Geographic, such rooftop gardens

improve the urban environment by insulating buildings against energy loss, managing storm water, improving air quality and providing places of recreation.”

Green jobs in the environmental science field are increasing in number as a global consciousness for saving the environment and lessening energy costs has begun pervading society.