If the next guy who moves into the White House invests $100 billion in a green U.S. economy, he could create nearly 1 million new jobs over the next couple of years, according to a new report from the Political Economy Research Institute in Amherst, Mass.
The dollar figure isn't much—about the same amount that was spent mailing last April's rebate checks to American taxpayers. But even if the next president is somewhat laissez faire on environmental issues, the eco-job market is expanding and will continue to, albeit more slowly, with opportunities that will turn both white and blue collars a deep shade of green.
These new green workers will research ways to make biofuels more useful and efficient. They'll help corporations measure their carbon footprint and then rally employees around programs aimed at shrinking it. And they will lay train and trolley tracks to expand urban transportation systems as more commuters climb on board.
Want more? Here are 10 jobs that recruiters, researchers, and industry observers say are in demand in the growing green economy:
1. Agriculture or forestry supervisors. These people work with the field workers, truck drivers, farm product purchasers, and others who are involved in getting wood chips, switch grass, and other organic matter that is used to make cellulosic biofuels from the field to the factory.
2. Architects. Those with green credentials and know-how are finding work incorporating such energy-efficient details as sun-filtering windows and sustainable materials like cork floors into new corporate and residential buildings and into existing offices and factories that are being retrofitted.
3. Construction managers. These hard-hat supervisors oversee the teams that do the nuts-and-bolts work of building those greener buildings and adding features like solar panels to existing buildings.
4. Consultants. Corporations are trying to quickly set sustainability benchmarks, measure carbon footprints, audit supply chains, set programs in place, and communicate these changes to employees. So they're doing what they often do when they need to rapidly come up to speed in a new area: outsourcing.
5. Social responsibility officers. These corporate lynchpins bring environmental and business know-how to the job of setting and meeting goals regarding carbon reduction, sustainability, and general eco-friendliness. They have to be able to work with product development, marketing, sales, communications, and internal auditing and compliance people and with outside consultants and senior executives.
6. Database specialists. Those with technical expertise and environment knowledge are setting up and managing systems used to track, analyze, and report information like carbon emissions and energy use.
7. Engineers. Civil, computer software, electrical, environmental, and chemical engineers are needed to expand mass transit systems; design, build, and install wind turbines and solar technologies; and develop both alternative fuels and the systems that will use them.
8. Electricians. These workers are helping to install solar panels, expand transportation systems; and build and retrofit green buildings.
9. Scientific researchers. At universities and corporations, they're developing new sources and applications for biofuels.
10. Transportation supervisors and dispatchers. Managing train and bus systems and the people who operate them are tasks that are quickly getting bigger and more complicated as commuters increasingly step out of their cars and onto mass transit.
Sources: Eco-America, Ellen Weinreb CSR Recruiting, Political Economy Research Institute