There are two main types of green jobs: those that produce goods or services that improve the environment, and those that improve an existing business's environmentally unfriendly practices. Such jobs might focus on producing renewable energy, conserving resources, increasing energy efficiency, alleviating pollution or increasing awareness and compliance. Green jobs exist in hundreds of industries, from farming to mining and telecommunications to transportation. What's more, it's possible to have a green job without sacrificing your financial goals. If you want to work in this industry, while bringing home an enviable paycheck, consider the following options.
TUTORIAL: Financial Careers

One place for physicists to work, in green technology, is the solar power industry. In conjunction with chemists, materials scientists and engineers, physicists work to improve solar panel technology by making it more efficient, and using superior materials. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2010, the median annual wage for a physicist was $106,370. These wages were considerably higher than those of chemists, materials scientists and even engineers. (For related reading, see The Minimum Wage: Does It Matter?)

Materials engineers, chemical engineers, electrical engineers, industrial engineers and mechanical engineers can also work in solar technology in a variety of capacities, and can expect to earn median wages ranging from about $79,000 to about $92,000. There are also numerous roles for engineers in the development of electric vehicles. According to the BLS, engineers have some of the highest starting salaries of all college graduates, and job prospects look good. All types of engineers, including civil engineers, can also work with architects to design green buildings and can expect median wages of $76,000 to $84,000.

Construction Manager
A construction manager can work in green building and earn even higher wages than an engineer, with a median annual wage of about $85,000. Construction managers supervise all aspects of construction projects, from budgeting to planning to building, and are responsible for directing the numerous people who execute each project.

Biochemist or Biophysicist
Biochemists study the chemical processes of living organisms and biophysicists study the relationship between physics and natural organisms. The BLS projects high job growth in these two fields, and median annual wages for these professions was $86,580, as of 2010. One example of a green job in this field, is researching the effects of environmental chemicals and pollutants on human health.

Geoscientists study the physical components of the earth. They might explore for oil and natural gas in places where their extraction would be less environmentally damaging, analyze ground and surface water movement to aid in the cleanup of contaminated sites or monitor environmental quality along a coastline. The BLS predicts faster than average job growth in this field, and median annual wages for 2010 was $93,380.

Law is a highly competitive field, from law school admissions to law firm job openings. With median annual wages in 2010 of $110,590, it's no wonder so many people want to work as lawyers. The BLS expects law jobs to grow at the same rate as other jobs, but predicts faster job growth in environmental law.

Environmental lawyers work for waste disposal companies, construction firms and other businesses whose work affects the environment, in some cases defending them against lawsuits brought by the Environmental Protection Agency. Environmental lawyers may also bring lawsuits against companies that are alleged to have damaged the environment. In addition, they may help individuals and businesses to secure permission to engage in certain activities that have an environmental impact, such as building. Environmental lawyer positions in the nonprofit sector may not pay as highly as those in the private sector.

The Bottom Line
Many of the top-paying environmental jobs are top-paying jobs, period. This means that if you, one day, want to change directions or green jobs become less plentiful, you'll have skills that will transfer to a different but still high-paying position. (For related reading, see 7 High-Paid Public Service Jobs.)

Related Articles
  1. Professionals

    The Best Financial Modeling Courses for Investment Bankers

    Obtain information, both general and comparative, about the best available financial modeling courses for individuals pursuing a career in investment banking.
  2. Professionals

    Credit Risk Analyst: Job Description and Average Salary

    Learn what credit risk analysts do every day and how much money they make on average, and identify the skills and education needed for this career.
  3. Professionals

    A Day in the Life of a Hedge Fund Manager

    Learn what a typical early morning to late evening workday for a hedge fund manager consists of and looks like from beginning to end.
  4. Financial Advisors

    Putting Your CFA Level I on Your Resume

    Learn techniques for emphasizing your CFA Level I status in the Skills and Certifications or Professional Development section of your resume.
  5. Professionals

    4 Must Watch Films and Documentaries for Accountants

    Learn how these must-watch movies for accountants teach about the importance of ethics in a world driven by greed and financial power.
  6. Personal Finance

    10 Reasons It Is Time to Look for a New Job

    Learn 10 good reasons for switching jobs, such as major life changes, ethical concerns, job description creep and upwards mobility.
  7. Professionals

    Common Interview Questions for Financial Analysts

    Learn more about the career of financial analyst, along with specific potential interview questions and answers for this type of position.
  8. Professionals

    Common Interview Questions for Business Analysts

    Identify some of the most common job interview questions asked of business analyst candidates, and learn the responses that will make you stand out.
  9. Professionals

    Common Interview Questions for Private Bankers

    Learn some specific questions often asked in interviews for private banker jobs, and what a job candidate needs to stress during an interview to land the job.
  10. Professionals

    Common Interview Questions for Investment Bankers

    Explore some of the most commonly asked questions in an interview for an investment banking position, along with suggestions for winning answers.
  1. Does working capital include salaries?

    A company accrues unpaid salaries on its balance sheet as part of accounts payable, which is a current liability account, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Do financial advisors need to meet quotas?

    Most financial advisors are required to meet quotas, particularly if they work for firms that pay base salaries or draws ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What is the difference between AGI (adjusted gross income) and gross income?

    In the United States, individuals pay taxes based on their adjusted gross income, or AGI, rather than their gross income. ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Does my employer's matching contribution count towards the maximum I can contribute ...

    Contributions to 401(k) plans come from employee salary deferral and employer match dollars. According to the IRS, employees ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What is the relationship between research and development and innovation?

    Although it's possible to achieve innovation without research and development and it's possible to conduct research and development ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How is marginal propensity to save calculated?

    Marginal propensity to save is used in Keynesian macroeconomics to quantify the relationship between changes in income and ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Take A Bath

    A slang term referring to the situation of an investor who has experienced a large loss from an investment or speculative ...
  2. Black Friday

    1. A day of stock market catastrophe. Originally, September 24, 1869, was deemed Black Friday. The crash was sparked by gold ...
  3. Turkey

    Slang for an investment that yields disappointing results or turns out worse than expected. Failed business deals, securities ...
  4. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
  5. Quick Ratio

    The quick ratio is an indicator of a company’s short-term liquidity. The quick ratio measures a company’s ability to meet ...
  6. Black Tuesday

    October 29, 1929, when the DJIA fell 12% - one of the largest one-day drops in stock market history. More than 16 million ...
Trading Center