Working in the Green Economy

Welcome to this course on green jobs and the green economy. Each section will have some content, some videos, and directions to complete some exercises to validate your completion of the course requirements.

Download this worksheet and save  it to your computer.  As you go through the course, follow the directions and fill in the answers as you complete the tasks. When you have completed all of the tasks, please submit the worksheet to the course instructor as stated below. The course instructor will review your answers and, if complete, will issue you the certificate of completion with 4.5 clock hours for your professional development. You have 30 days to complete the course.  

As you go through the course be sure to record the amount of time you spend in completing all aspects of this course.  You will be asked to give a time estimate on the final evaluation.

At the end of the course you will be able to:

  • State Why Green is Important
  • Define and Learn About Green Jobs and the Green Economy
  • Finding Green Jobs on Job Search Sites
  • Obtain Additional Resources 

This course is divided into four major sections. Start with section 1 and move through each of the subsequent sections. Watch the video below to learn about the objectives of this program.


Why Green is Important

You have undoubtedly heard of the problems with pollution, depletion of our natural resources, global warming, overpopulation, over fishing, sustainability, energy efficiency and other environmental issues. These topics are not new, but they have taken on a new meaning as more and more research is showing that we are harming our environment.

DoL’s document Why Green is Your Color (see resource section) suggests that business practices, consumer choices, and the world’s available resources are changing, and with these changes, the demand for workers in green industries is expected to increase. Experts predicted world energy consumption will grow by 49 percent from 2007 to 2035. In the U.S., increasing demand for electricity to support new technology means a greater demand for methods to efficiently produce and transport energy.

Leading scientists are warning that everyone must find new ways to reduce carbon emissions worldwide in the face of global warming and climate change. This effort will require a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, including wind and solar energy. Being good environmental caretakers means looking for more ways to reduce waste, reuse materials when possible, and stop practices that have negative effects on the environment. Environmental issues are of growing importance to businesses across America. Some are already adopting a “triple bottom line” philosophy that emphasizes economic, ecological, and social values. Many consumers are eager to do business with enterprises that are responsible in how they treat their workers, customers, and the environment.

The green economy rewards innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurialism. New ways of thinking about everyday products, processes, and services make for great opportunities not only find new jobs, but also turn ideas into businesses and create jobs for others. As the green economy grows, our country needs workers for a variety of green jobs. The number and types of green jobs are growing rapidly.

Review the video  below to get an overall picture of how we have affected the environment over time. As you view this video and the others in this section, think about the implications for green jobs and careers.

Used with permission of the Post Carbon Institute

To get one point of view on how these environmental problems are growing globally, listen to journalist and author, Tom Friedman, in this brief video talk about our energy demands as he describes a portion of his latest book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded. Think about the jobs that area being created to deal with global issues regarding pollution, resource over use, and other issues.  What kinds of jobs can be created here in the US to tackle these issues?

 Watch this video below.

Used with permission by

Our federal, state, and local governments have grasped the challenge of helping to improve environmental conditions by taking several actions. At the federal level, many millions of dollars have been applied toward supporting promising technologies and energy efficiency. This effort has been boosted by the concern over the increase in the unemployment rate due to the economic downturn. Billions of dollars have been applied to energizing the green economy along with stimulating job growth and worker retraining for green jobs.

To get a deeper understanding of how green jobs are important to the US economy, view this video that answers many questions you might have on the importance of this movement to our planet, to local economic opportunities, and to the creation of a wide range of jobs across the entire base on our economy. View it by clicking the button or view it below. 

Used with permission of the Center for American Progress

The next video will show you on a very practical level, how the green economy creates green jobs and helps the planet. The video emphasizes the interrelationships among the building industry, manufacturing, technology, energy efficiency, and recycling combine to provide a more environmentally friendly world. Also of interest is how job training, apprenticeships, and other opportunities can lead to good paying jobs. View the video below.

Used with permission by Washington State Department of Ecology.

But will business cooperate in helping to clean up and preserve the environment while creating good jobs? This video provides a hopeful answer. View it below.

Used with the permission of the World Wildlife Federation.

This next video shows the market for green jobs is strong and the support for green jobs development is supported by many sectors and perspectives.  View it below.

Task 1:

Write a short (1/2 page, single-spaced) summary of how the green economy influences how you assist your students, clients, or customers. Emphasize how the green economy has (or will) change what you do as a career professional/educator. Use ideas from the videos you watched. Be sure to put this on your worksheet.

Defining and Learning About Green Jobs and the Green Economy

Defining green jobs is a little like nailing jello to a wall. It’s not very well defined and hard to get a handle on what they really are. That said, there are organizations and institutions that are studying green jobs, or what some call green collar jobs, and the green economy. Let’s look at some of the more substantial efforts.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics has finalized a definition of green jobs for use in measuring green goods and services jobs. The green economy encompasses economic activity related to reducing the use of fossil fuels, decreasing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, increasing the efficiency of energy usage, recycling materials, and developing and adopting renewable sources of energy.

This next video is a description of how the Bureau of Labor Statistics views the green economy and how we might define green jobs. View it below.

View this video that describes the US Department of Labor’s efforts to get a handle on the green economy. The video discusses which industry sectors will be vibrant and important in the green economy. Industry sectors are large groupings of jobs and occupations.

Please read this document  (Career Development article) which gives an explanation of why it is important for the career development professional to understand green jobs and what can be done to encourage the creation of green jobs in the US economy. 

Visit this O*NET site which gives the latest information on green occupations.

Read the description of each of the green economy sectors to understand the full extent of opportunities within the green economy.

New jobs are appearing and many old jobs are changing in response to the green economy. The “greening of occupations” refers to the extent to which green economy activities and technologies increase the demand for existing occupations, shape the work and worker requirements needed for performance of the occupation, or generate unique work and worker requirements.

Watch this video below.

So in summary, there are three categories of green occupations as outlined by the National Center for O*NET Development:

Green Increased Demand Occupations. These are occupations that already existed prior to the green economy but now are more in demand. There are no significant changes in the work and worker requirements. Examples include electricians, logger supervisors, wildlife biologists, and chemical engineers.

Green Enhanced Skills Occupations. These are occupations that already existed prior to the green economy but have undergone significant changes in work and worker requirements to include new tasks, skills, knowledge, and credentials. Demand for workers may or may not have increased. Examples include construction managers, heating and air conditioning mechanics, transportation managers, and environmental engineers.

Green New and Emerging Occupations. These are occupations with unique work and worker requirements relating to the green economy. They may be entirely new or “born” from an existing occupation. Examples include biomass plant engineers, climate change analysts, geothermal technicians, and logistics managers. Jobs in these occupations require different kinds of training and work experience. In some cases, women may be certified for an occupation by taking a single course/exam, and/or on-the-job training may be available through an employer, apprenticeship, or internship. In other cases, the path to a green occupation may require an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, or more.

Read this article on how many green jobs are estimated to exist in the US. economy. This is a count of the situation by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In Summary, green jobs can be broadly defined as jobs that restore, protect, or conserve the natural environment. Green jobs are found across a range of industries and occupations. Examples of green jobs include renewable energy engineers and technicians, weatherization contractors, green landscapers, recycling and waste management workers, environmental chemists, hazardous material removal workers, conservation policy analysts, and designers of new green technologies and products.

Task 2:

Go to and find the green occupations section. Perform a search in the transportation industry. How many occupations are listed in the sector? Look at the first 10 occupations. How many are INCREASED DEMAND, ENHANCED SKILLS, and NEW and EMERGING?

Review the new and emerging occupations. Why is some information missing for these occupations? Click on Bus Drivers, Transit and Intercity, and read the Summary Report.

What is the top skill listed for this occupation?

Finding Green Jobs

A recent report by the Workforce Information Council, defines green jobs as one in which the work is essential to products or services that improve energy efficiency, expand the use of renewable energy, or support environmental sustainability. The word essential implies that there is some level of importance and relevance of the work to a green-related activity, and that without the work, the product or service would not be provided. This report will form the basis upon which agencies may track the number and impact of green jobs in the US economy. Download and keep this document if you want to dig into this issue in more depth at some point.

Regardless of how green jobs will be tracked and counted, it is clear, as can be seen in this next video, that the green jobs concept is generating a great deal of excitement. View the video below.

Now that you know about green economy sectors and green occupations, and realize that the green movement is serious business, it’s time for the next step — the job hunt. This next video will take you through several job sites you can investigate from general job board to job sites that are very specific to green jobs. The video also provides you lots of resources that you can use to further your knowledge about the world of green.

The URLs for all the sites mentioned are included in a handout as part of this section. So sit back and focus on the video. View the video below.

These next two audios will give you an idea of the kinds of jobs in the green economy, transferring skills from conventional to green jobs, the importance of training, and how to take advantage of the green jobs economic engine.

 Certain Green Industries Have Job Openings

 How to Find EcoFriendly Jobs


A recent DoL publication suggests looking at these job boards in particular.

Task 3: 

Go to O*NET ONLINE. In the FIND OCCUPATIONS section on the left, and use the dropdown menu to find the Green Economy Sector. Click on it and Search. Scroll down to find Green Construction and then the occupation – Construction Carpenters. Click on that occupational title. Read the contents of the Summary Report.

What is the typical education level of people working in this occupation?

What is the top work activity?

Go to Monster and search for carpenter jobs. How many jobs are posted?

Go to America’s Job Exchange. Search in the job seekers section for the job of carpenter for your zip code or a zip code of the largest city near you. How many jobs do you see posted?

Go to your state’s job bank. See what jobs for carpenter are available in your state.

Task 4:

Go to O*NET Online. Enter the word chemists in the KEYWORD SEARCH section. Find the occupational title of Chemists.

Click on the green jobs symbol. What type of green job is this occupation? New and Emerging? Increased Demand? Or Enhanced Skills?

Click on the occupation to bring up the Summary Report. Read the summary report.

What is the typical level of education of people working in this occupation?

Summary, Directions, and Resources

By viewing the video, reading the text, and performing the tasks as outlined, it is hoped that you have a better understanding of why the green economy is important, how green jobs are being categorized and researched, and where you can find green jobs. This last section provides you some resources that you might find helpful as you continue to work with students and clients to help them see the opportunities in the green economy.

Read two of the following documents. Select those that are most important to your local economy and clients.

Careers in Biofuel

Careers in Geothermal

Careers in Sustainability

Careers in Environmental Remediation

Careers in Energy Auditing

Careers in Recycling

Careers Green Thumb

Green Careers Construction

Green Careers Solar

Green Careers Wind

Green Careers Water Conservation

Careers in Electric Vehicles

Careers in Sustainable Forestry

Task 5:  

Write a 1/2 page summary of the documents you read.


View and download the document and resources you find helpful from the listing below.

Links Used in Video

Supplementary Documents:

Green Career Pathways

Measurement and Analysis of Employment in the Green Economy

Why Green is Your Color

Supplementary Links:

Green Collar Jobs Report Forecasts 37 Million Jobs from Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

Transitioning to a Green Career

Finding a Green Job — Job Boards

Congratulations! You have completed the course!

 Complete the evaluation in order to obtain the clock/contact hours for your professional development.  

Email your completed worksheet to Dr. Janet Wall for her review.  After review, you will receive your certificate of completion.