EHS Management

What’s a ‘Green Job’ and How Can I Get One?

BLS and Green Jobs

The BLS green jobs definition contains 2 components. Green jobs are either:

  1. Jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources; or
  2. Jobs in which workers’ duties involve making their establishment’s production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources.

Green Goods and Services

These goods and services in the BLS definition are sold to customers and include research and development, installation, and maintenance services. The green goods and services components of BLS’s definition of green jobs fall into one or more of five categories:

  • Energy from renewable resources.
  • Energy efficiency. Included are equipment, appliances, buildings, and vehicles, as well as products and services that improve energy efficiency of buildings, storage, and distribution, e.g., smart grid technologies.
  • Pollution reduction and removal, GHG reduction, and recycling and reuse. Included as part of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction are products and services other than renewable energy generation. An example given is nuclear power.
  • Natural resources conservation. Included are such things as organic agriculture and sustainable forests, land management, and stormwater management.
  • Environmental compliance, education and training, and public awareness. This includes enforcement of environmental regulations.

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Green Workers

Green workers research, develop, maintain, or use technologies and practices to lessen the environmental impact of their establishment, or train the establishment’s workers or contractors in these technologies or practices.

The workers’ duties components of BLS’s definition of green jobs fall into one or more of four categories:

  • Energy from renewable resources.
  • Energy efficiency. Included are equipment, appliances, buildings, and vehicles, as well as products and services that improve energy efficiency of buildings and storage and distribution, e.g., smart grid technologies.
  • Pollution reduction and removal, GHG reduction, and recycling and reuse. Included as part of the GHG emissions reduction are products and services other than renewable energy generation. An example given is nuclear power.
  • Natural resources conservation. Included are such things as organic agriculture and sustainable forests, land management, and stormwater management.

BLS collected data on jobs associated with green goods and services through a mail survey of sample establishments identified as potentially producing such products and services based on their North American Industry Classification System (NAICS classification).

Note: Current BLS data is for 2010 and 2011. The Green Goods and Services program was a victim of sequestration, so this is the latest BLS data.

Green Jobs Training

The Green Jobs Innovation Fund, which is administrated by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) was authorized under the Workforce Investment Act to help workers receive job training in green industry sectors. These funds are meant to help organizations with existing career training programs leverage registered apprenticeships, preapprenticeship programs, and community-based partnerships to build sustainable green career pathways.


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Green Jobs Network

The mission of the Green Jobs Network is to connect people seeking jobs that focus on environmental and social responsibility with available opportunities and resources. The Green Jobs Network hosts a 90,000+ member LinkedIn group.

The Green Collar Blog provides:

  • News and resources on green collar jobs
  • Links to associations
  • Green job boards

The Green Collar Blog, a service of the Green Job Network, is a resource to help people seeking jobs that focuses on environmental and social responsibility.  Among other components, the Green Collar Blog provides resources for green job training and education.

Green Drinks

Every month people who work in the environmental field meet up at informal sessions known as “Green Drinks.”

There are green drinks networks in cities worldwide. These events are very simple and unstructured, but many people have found employment, made friends, developed new ideas, done deals, and had moments of serendipity. It’s a force for the good and we’d like to help it spread to other cities. Check out www.greendrinks.org to see if there is an active green drinks group near you. Some cities listed have dropped out, but some are still very active.