Green Career Pathways

08/21/2013
By Aaron Schreiber - Stainthorp

In 2007, Miles Ten Brinke and Morwenna Rowe joined a handful of other students at their high school. They were joining the PowerSave Schools program at their high school, an energy-saving effort to empower students to identify energy efficiency opportunities at their school to save money and protect the environment. 

Today they are both working in the energyfield.
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After graduating high school, Miles and Morwenna joined a PowerSave Campus team at UC Berkley (a similar program for higher education at 23 universities nationwide).  

Morwenna was amazed the positive environmental and financial benefits of energy efficiency through, and today works as a Program Associate with the Alliance to Save Energy’s PowerSave Schools Program.

Miles specialized in behavioral and technical energy efficiency projects – receiving the highly prestigious US-UK Fulbright Awardpursuing his graduate degree. Now heworks for a United Kingdom’sOffice of Gas and Electricity in London, and will start his PhD on the Socio-Technical Transition to Sustainable Consumption of the Energy-Water Nexus at the University of Manchester next year.

Looking back, by learning technical skills while cultivating professional onesin the PowerSave program, Miles and Morwenna received the initial spark that began their energy field career.

The demand for green professionals(those working directly to benefit the environment through sustainable business practices) is on the rise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,3.4 million green energy jobs existed in the U.S. as of 2011 and the sector grew four times the rate of others.

PowerSave Schools and PowerSave Campus (ourhigher education program)help meet the demand for green jobs. According to a 2012 survey from 55 PowerSave Campus alumni  98% contribute to sustainability in their professional lives and nearly three-fourths of those working are employed in a green career.Students network with local utilities companies, non-profit organizations, universities, and business professionals who have successfully taken theirinterest in energy efficiency and environmental awareness and turned it into a lifelong career path.

Green career pathways are highly varied, with a broad range of skills, interests and education requirements depending on the position as evidenced in the examples below. 

Energy Manager
An energy manager monitors the complexity of an organization's energy usage and develops practices and procedures designed to reduce energy consumption and/or improve efficiency of usage. This position involves researching alternative and renewable energy technologies and creatively determining their feasibility and cost-effectiveness. 

Potential areas of focus: Bachelor’s degree in building science, engineering, CEM Certified Energy Management

National median salary: $93,000 

Software Engineer
Often hired by utility companies, software engineers might create software that analyzes the energy consumption of businesses, schools and consumers. Software engineersalso design energy-saving software such as programs that turn off appliances when idle or at certain times of day when energy demand is low to reduce blackouts.

Potential areas of focus: Bachelors degree in engineering or computer science

National median salary: $71,000 

Green Designer
Green Designers treat the environmental attributes of a product as both goals and constraints: they aim to ensure a product’s green qualities without compromising performance, quality, functionality, and the useful life of the item. Green design can be applied to any kind of product—from a car, to a house, to virtually any household object. 

Potential areas of focus: Associate’s degree from a vocational school or Bachelor’s degree.  

National median salaries: Architect: $73,340; Car designer, $73,650; Product designer, $78,000.

Policy Maker  
Government policy makers use their knowledge of society and political systems to propose and implement changes to our legal systems that can have far-ranging consequences for all citizens.  Most enter the field as sociologists or, more specifically, as political scientists conducting and analyzing data research on the public’s energy consumption habits.

Potential areas of focus: Bachelor’s degree or higher in political science or statistics. A distinct advantage and practical experience can be achieved through an internship in a government office.

National median salary: $107,420

Environmental Educator 
Environmental educators effectively communicate expertise on environmental topics through creative lesson planning and presentations. While assessing student learning, educators seek to inspire the next generation ofleaders who can use their knowledge to build a more sustainable planet and plan their own green futures.

Potential areas of focus: Bachelors degree or higher in education and/or environmental sciences.

National median salary: dependent on grade level and institution

By no means are these the only positions available – any job can be green! Police officers can avoid idling their cars; dentists can purchase ENERGY STAR dental equipment; auto mechanics can help maintain maximum fuel efficiency.Working in a team to achieve goals and seeing projects through from research to presentation, PowerSave alumni are competitive in any job market. Regardless of their field of study, students leave the PowerSave Schools Program with professional goals, skills, and the confidence to encourage sustainability in their places of employment.

If your students want to earn a living promoting a healthier economy, a cleaner environment and an energy secure world, inspire them to become our next energy efficiency leaders through a green career. 

To learn more about the Green Career activities you can dowith students in your classroom visit http://www.ase.org/GreenCareers

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