Bryan Walsh, Time magazine’s environmental columnist, wrote an article entitled What Is a Green-Collar Job, Exactly? In it, he interviewed Phil Angelides, a venture capitalist and the 2006 Democratic candidate for governor of California on this very subject. As one of the leading proponents of “green-collar” work, Angelides offered the following definition of a green-collar job. “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."
You may wonder what positions qualify for this title? Is it just composting and cashing in cans? According to Angelides, green-collar jobs are any jobs that further the goal of a cleaner, more sustainable future.
For example, where building a standard SUV is considered a blue-collar job, building a hybrid vehicle is considered a green-collar job. So, contrary to popular belief, eco-friendly work isn’t just for environmental engineers and organic wheatgrass farmers. There are actually a wide variety of positions in an even wider variety of fields that fall under the umbrella of green-collar jobs.
If you are in manufacturing, you can build wind turbines or solar panels. Engineers can develop low-polluting products or create environmentally friendly city plans. Electricians and plumbers can integrate innovative green tools and techniques into their practices. Even those with English, Business, Communications or Non-Profit Management degrees can get in on the green fun! Whatever your niche, there is a green-collar job for you.
Organizations like the Apollo Alliance, a coalition of varied interests that works to further green employment (of which Angelides is chairman), and the United Steelworkers Alliance, see green-collar jobs as a key step in keeping manufacturing jobs in America rather than overseas. Senator John McCain has gone on record as saying that he believes this effort could create “thousands, millions of new jobs in America,” and he could be right. Angelides claims that between now and 2030, 75 percent of the buildings in the U.S. will either be new or substantially rehabilitated. Those eco-friendly buildings aren’t going to build themselves, meaning new and exciting jobs in the green-collar sector will undoubtedly open up.
It’s undeniable that the job creation afforded by the development of new green-collar jobs is exciting. So, lace up your organic cotton sneakers and get out there because there is a dream green job with your name on it.