Many of us make an effort to be eco-conscious and environmentally friendly in our personal lives. But what if you could translate that passion for sustainable living into your work? Could you make an even greater difference in our world?
If you’re at a point in your life where you’re pondering a career change or still looking for your calling in life, here are 7 careers where you can make an environmental difference and contribute to a greener future for our world:
1. Green Entrepreneurs/MBA
The world needs more bright, innovative minds dedicated to solving the world’s ecological problems. Whether this means starting a company that develops or markets new green technologies, or becoming an executive and shaping the future of a company working towards developing sustainable technologies, the world will be shaped by individuals with the vision and passion needed to bring about real change. Additionally, with the global carbon credit market providing rich financial incentives, major companies will be looking to devote a greater amount of resources towards sustainability. They’ll need bright, eco-conscious individuals with business savvy and training to lead the way.
Deforestation is one the great catastrophes of industrialization. Research has shown that it contributes to a staggering 25% of global warming. The modern forestry industry is an absolute juggernaut, with an incredible 1.6 billion people depending on the forest for their very livelihood. However, there is a new generation of young, bright eco-conscious Forestry graduates who are looking to make a difference. The good news is that the growing acknowledgement of the world’s sustainability issues means that there are now billions, (some say as much as a trillion) worth of carbon credits earmarked to fight global warming. As a forester, you can use these new financial incentives along with your training, creativity and passion to work with companies in order to develop more sustainable ways to use the world’s forests.
3. Sustainability Systems Developer/Engineer
The world needs smart, analytical individuals to help build the next generation of sustainable technologies. As a sustainability systems developer or engineer, you will help build, design, and maintain the complex systems required for smart energy grids, the stochastic modeling for wind farms, congestion pricing, cleaning up waste sites and much more. You might also work on developing sustainable systems in major industries such as agriculture or industrial processing.
4. Conservation Biologist
With deforestation, mining, and other human influences destroying natural ecosystems faster than we can blink, the 21st century needs passionate, knowledgeable advocates for conservation. As a conservation biologist, you can use your passion to spread awareness and attention to ecological issues. You’ll also have the opportunity to work with private companies interested in minimizing their environmental footprint. There will also be ample opportunity to work in the fields of research and teaching.
5. Solar Panel Installer
Installing and maintaining solar-voltaic panels and systems is a growing industry with a promising future. Opportunities are abundant wherever there is sun, and those opportunities will only continue to grow as solar panel technology improves and becomes more efficient and affordable. Currently, there are already 770,000 jobs around the world dedicated to installing and maintaining solar panels and that number is expected to grow exponentially over the next few decades.
6. Petroleum Engineer
No, this definitely isn’t a path that you would have expected on a list of eco-friendly careers. It’s true that the majority of petroleum engineers aren’t exactly on what you might consider “the good side” when it comes to eco-consciousness, but over the next few decades, environmental-conscious petroleum engineers will be crucial to developing new sources of renewable energy, particularly in harnessing geothermal energy sources. Petroleum engineers will also be at the forefront of environmental cleanup efforts – some petroleum engineering schools are even offering green energy programs for engineers interested in renewable energy technologies. As long as you’re not tempted to take a high paying job on an oil rig, you can make a tremendous positive environmental impact as a petroleum engineer if you choose the right path.
7. Urban Planner
Urban planners will be a key part of the quest to reduce the world’s carbon footprint. Urban planners with a strong eco-consciousness will be crucial in developing cities that are less car-centric. They will contribute to strengthening the mass transit in our major cities, reducing urban sprawl, and designing cities that are more cyclist and pedestrian friendly. And as the world sees more and more natural phenomena caused by global warming, urban planners will also play a key role in coastal cities when it comes to contingency planning.