Tree hugging is not just for volunteer activists, it's for corporate America as well! Despite what you might think, you can earn a decent salary while saving the planet. Green collar jobs can be found in both the private and public sectors; they can even be found in jobs that you would have never considered to be "green". The following are some of the higher paying green collar jobs according to 2008 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and actual job listings.

  • Environmental EngineerThe job description involves: designing, developing, testing and implementing new technology, infrastructure, manufacturing strategies, and products to produce clean energy, efficient technology and renewable energy sources. Depending on whether they're employed in commercial or public organizations, environmental engineers earn an average of $77,920 per year. (Learn more in What Does It Mean To Be Green?)
  • PhysicistFor this profession, you have to initiate, conduct and evaluate research, and serve as an expert regarding energy production from condensed matter. Physicists in this field have an average annual salary of $106,440.
  • Environmental ScientistThese scientists provide expert advice in the clean-up of environmental construction sites. In addition, they research and design plans and correct contaminated sites. The average annual salary is $65,280.
  • ChemistWorking with chemicals might not seem very "green", but it can be. Chemists perform research in the fields of biology, energy, fusion energy, environmental sciences or nuclear physics. Using this information, they propose and evaluate new policies, programs and products related to efficient, renewable energy and environmental safeguards. The pay isn't too shabby either, averaging $71,070 per year.
  • Sustainability DirectorThis is a fairly new corporate position in many different companies. The sustainability director is in charge of initiating and managing programs that create value while improving the environment. Examples of projects may include reducing energy consumption or marketing sustainability efforts to clients and investors. The salary for this new and prestigious position is $120,000 to $150,000.
  • Agency DirectorThe Division of Hydropower Administration and Compliance employed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, oversees the licenses of organizations involved in hydropower energy. This executive level position is responsible for both technical and administrative functions of the agency. The annual salary ranges from the handsome $117,787 to the very generous $177,000.
  • Energy Technology Program SpecialistThese strategists are also Federal Policy Advisors. They counsel government agency officials and the legislature on the feasibility, cost effectiveness, and other concerns. This critical role impacts decision making regarding energy resources. Salary is $102,830 to $153,200.
  • Analyst/Financial SpecialistGovernment program analysts establish policies and coordinate programs. Financial specialists control program budgets and other activities to implement new green programs. Analysts and financial specialists operate in all government agencies including those dealing with energy, the environment and education. Salary for these jobs average $84,780 per year.
  • Economist
    Maybe some good can come of marrying economics and environmentalism. Being an economist can be green by conducting research and analysis of the impact of efficient, renewable energy on the economy at local, state and federal levels. Economists' salaries average $90,830 per year. (Learn more about the market side of environmentalism in Save The Earth: Become A Capitalist.)

Educational sources are available to help prospective green collar workers obtain in-demand credentials. Positions are available for both emerging workers and experienced leaders. Well qualified green collar workers are expected to continue to attract lucrative compensation. (Learn more in Investing in Green Technology — the Future Is Now.)