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Tasneem
Johnson-Dollie
Tasneem Johnson-Dollie is a travel writer living in South Africa. She has experience in public health nutrition and worked as a dietician before launching her writing career. She loves bringing her passion for public health and sustainable development to every article she writes. Her travels around South Africa as well as to India, Australia, and Saudi Arabia have fueled her passion for exploration.
Green jobs: Getting to grips with the ever-growing list

The images in this article were taken pre-COVID-19.

What are green jobs and what types of roles can you enter into as a green organisation employee? Let’s find out!

With the world becoming more environmentally-conscious by the day, the demand for green jobs is growing steadily and there are tons of options to set your sights on.

But, before we take a deep dive into which green jobs are out there, let’s answer the question, “What are green jobs?” 

What is a green job?

GVI volunteers on a hike and assess the environment.

 

Green jobs are work opportunities that add to sustainable development efforts. Green industry jobs are aligned with environmental needs – where organisations orientate their practices to contribute to sustainability. This may mean reducing their carbon emissions to meet international standards, or sourcing materials from sustainable suppliers. 

Further reading: What is a green job and how do I land one?

Over the last decade, the green industry has expanded exponentially, and every business sector now includes various jobs that help the environment in one way or another. 

But why exactly are talks about green industry jobs buzzing right now?

Why you should get involved in jobs that help the environment

Here are some facts about climate change and environmental degradation that’ll get you up to speed:

  • Climate change is occurring at the most rapid rate ever recorded. 
  • Around 375 square kilometres of Earth’s forests are being lost every day.
  • More than 1,500 acres of arable land becomes desert every hour. 
  • Between 5 and 10% of tropical species will become extinct every year if the current rate of deforestation continues.
  • More than 20% of coral reefs have already been destroyed, and what’s left will be gone in the next 30 years if no changes are made.
  • Human beings are currently using 50% more natural resources than Earth can provide. 

 

A turtle swims in the coral reefs, which are being destroyed.

 

Human activity is known to be the leading driver of climate change globally, particularly through the business sector

Because of this, jobs that help the environment play a major role in addressing the effects of climate change and contributing towards the well-being of all life on Earth. 

But, which jobs fall within the green industry? And, what are green industry jobs about? 

We’ve compiled a list of green jobs that span industry sectors and sustainable development work. Keep reading to broaden your green career horizons. 

A list of green jobs that help the environment

As a green career employee, you could work in the economic, agricultural, research or service provision sectors – just to name a few.

Here are some of the top green industry jobs out there. 

1) Chief sustainability officer

Chief sustainability officers guide organisations on how to be more sustainable.

 

Much like CEOs and CFOs, CSOs have years of experience working in their field and are experts in their line of work. 

CSOs are at the top of the sustainability industry food chain and need to be well-rounded employees with strong business and leadership skills. 

Their work entails guiding organisations (which can be anything from corporate operations to NGOs) on how to go about their business in the most sustainable manner.

2) Environmental consultant

Environmental consultants guide organisations with regards to their sustainability practices, just like a CSO. 

But, environmental consultants are much more focused on the environmental impacts of business practices – rather than considering the overall sustainability of an organisation, like a CSO would.

Having a sound understanding of key environmental aspects like climate change, land degradation, and the role that human beings play in environmental challenges is essential. 

You can become an environmental consultant by studying environmental sciences. Once you’re qualified, gaining field experience is highly recommended. 

3) Urban planner

Urban planners contribute to a more greener, sustainable design of different areas.

Original photo: “urban planners look at Biloxi plans” by Knight Foundation is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

 

If you’re looking for opportunities where you could work for your local or national government while contributing towards green design, urban planning could be the perfect green career for you. 

To become an urban planner, you’ll need a strong background in sustainable design and urban planning. 

A masters degree in urban planning with experience in the field is a surefire way to land this type of green industry job. However, a degree in environmental design, geography, economics or politics will also help you get your foot in the door. 

If you don’t have any of these qualifications and want to become an urban planner, an internship in environmental conservation and sustainable development will build on your future employability in the field

The qualifications you’ll earn on an environmental internship will also add to your college application if you choose to study towards a degree in urban planning in the future. 

4) Urban farmer

A GVI volunteer watering the seedlings.

 

Because of rapid population growth worldwide, agriculture has been ramped up over the last few decades.

Not only has this contributed to the degradation of expanses of important ecosystems like forests and grasslands, it’s also increased humans’ consumption of other natural resources like water. 

And, besides its impact on land and resources, transporting food from farms to cities is one of the biggest ways that agriculture contributes towards climate change.

We’re still searching for the answer to this dilemma, but urban farming is a great way to offset this negative impact right away. 

Urban farmers innovate and adapt, and some of the most effective farming systems of the twenty-first century have come about in response to urban farming obstacles. 

If you’re interested in branching out and becoming an urban farmer but have little experience in the field, our community development internships in Costa Rica and Fiji are great options.

5) Energy analyst

Original image: “BSEE Conducts Unannounced Oil Spill Deployment Exercise with Gulf of Mexico Operator” by bseegov is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

 

The types of energy we make use of can either make or break our sustainability credibility, and energy analysts are our go-to when it comes to all things energy related.

Alternative energy technologies like wind power, solar power and biofuels have overtaken nonrenewable energy sources in some regions of the world, and this has rapidly reduced these regions’ contributions to climate change.

If you enter into a green career as an energy analyst, you’ll play a vital role in developing action plans aimed at addressing unsustainable energy use and promoting sustainable systems locally, nationally or internationally.

6) Economic development specialist

Economic development specialists work to create the perfect mix of sustainable business practices and economic success within a community. And this is a key part of making long-term green initiatives work in society and industry. 

To become an economic specialist, you’ll need to have at least a degree in economics or business, as well as tons of field experience.

 

GVI program managers as well as the community of Fiji, discussing important matters.

 

Joining a sustainable development internship with a focus on business is a great way to get started and gain the field experience you’ll need.

7) Environmental lawyer

As an environmental lawyer, you’ll play an important role in not only guiding sustainable work, but also addressing unsustainable activities in a meaningful way. 

To land a green job as an environmental lawyer, a degree in law is a must, as well as environmentally focused work experience. 

Our Human Rights and Access to Justice virtual internship can act as a major stepping-stone in helping you gain the right type of work experience. This online environmental internship will also allow you to work closely with experts in the field and grow your professional network. 

8) Conservation scientist

GVI volunteers analyse the soil and grass.

 

Individuals working in this type of green career are said to have been a major catalyst in growing the green movement. This is because they were – and still are – at the frontline when it comes to safeguarding natural spaces. 

Conservation scientists can work in marine or wildlife conservation. Conservation internships and wildlife research internships may be the best way to start off your green career in this field. 

These types of environmental internships abroad make it easy to go where the animals are, and allow you to contribute towards global conservation goals directly, while gaining valuable field experience.

Our environmental internships focused on conservation can take you to Belize, Costa Rica, Fiji, Greece, Madagascar, Mexico, Seychelles, South Africa, Spain or Thailand.

 

Marine conservation volunteers make notes on their analysis.

 

Signing up for a sustainable development internship is a great way to launch your action plan even before you’ve landed a job in the green industry. This is because it’ll start you off with a solid foundation in the field and allow you to work closely with industry experts.

Take a look at our green career internships and core internships and discover more answers to the question “What are green jobs?” for yourself.