20 Green Careers for the Environmentally Conscious

Updated May 30, 2023

Two people tend to plants in funnel containers tiled across a garden wall.

If you're passionate about protecting the environment, many careers enable you to help the planet's health. Jobs in the green sector allow you to focus on environmental concerns and encourage sustainability and conservation. Exploring these options can help you find a role that suits your professional goals and affects change among individuals and organizations.

In this article, we explain what green careers are and share 20 jobs for the environmentally conscious, including the national average salary and primary duties for each role.

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What are green careers?

Green careers are professional roles contributing to environmental preservation, conservation and sustainability. Individuals with these jobs are called green-collar employees, reflecting their professional commitment to environmental issues.

Their job duties vary, but they often include promoting environmentally conscious decisions and policies, aiming to improve a variety of environmental concerns such as water and air pollution and making sustainable lifestyle choices accessible to the public.

You may find a career in one of many private, public or nonprofit sectors, including:

  • Energy: Individuals in this industry focus on creating, installing and funding renewable energy sources like solar and wind power.

  • Agriculture: Careers in agriculture involve protecting the environment and food sources by developing safe, eco-friendly techniques and resources. Agriculture sectors can also include organic farming, also known as ecological or biological farming.

  • Construction and manufacturing: Individuals in this industry may determine environmentally friendly processes and materials for manufacturing products and building structures.

  • Transportation: Green transportation professionals may include those who create, manufacture or operate sustainable vehicles.

  • Waste management: Green jobs in this sector typically include those related to recycling, such as coordination and collection.

  • Policy: Professionals who influence environmental policy and regulation often work in government agencies or nonprofits, where they may create or take part in initiatives to affect change.

  • Research: Environmental science and engineering roles involve conducting research, completing studies and developing green processes for various industries.

  • Consulting: Business professionals can pursue environmental consulting to help companies become more sustainable by evaluating, changing and monitoring their operations.

Related: 10 Sustainability Careers That Make a Difference

Are you looking for a job now?

20 green careers for the environmentally conscious

Consider this list of green careers, their national average salaries and primary duties to help you make an informed career decision that aligns with your passion for the environment. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, visit indeed.com/salaries.

1. Recycling sorter

National average salary: $32,496 per year

Primary duties: Recycling sorters arrange and process various materials and products for recycling. They often feed them into machines that crush or melt the materials so manufacturers can make them into different products. Recycling sorters also separate and remove certain products, like hazardous materials or non-recyclables, so they can dispose of them correctly.

2. Refuse collector

National average salary: $37,972 per year

Primary duties: Also known as a garbage collector, a refuse collector picks up trash and recyclable items from residential and commercial properties. They may drive a garbage or recycling truck or work with a partner who operates the vehicle they use to pick up and store waste along their designated route. At the end of their shift, they take the truck to a waste management facility for disposal.

3.  Environmental technician

National average salary: $46,534 per year

Primary duties: Environmental technicians look for sources of pollution and toxic materials that may contaminate the environment or harm public health. They may collect dirt or water samples, perform tests to evaluate their contaminants and create reports summarizing their findings.

Government organizations may use these reports to implement environmental laws, policies and regulations. Additional duties can include inspecting public establishments and businesses for environmental or safety hazards and installing and maintaining equipment to track pollution levels, like remote sensors.

4.  Wind turbine technician

National average salary: $57,890 per year

Primary duties: Wind turbine technicians inspect and repair wind turbine towers, which produce renewable energy sources that help reduce the reliance on fossil fuels, to ensure the turbines function and maintain their physical integrity.

Wind turbine technicians may also test various components, including electrical systems. These technicians often perform routine maintenance tasks to prevent or minimize concerns about safety and function.

5.  Environmental scientist

National average salary: $61,200 per year

Primary duties: Environmental scientists collect air, soil, water, and food samples to determine potential environmental threats. Implementing their knowledge of the environment, they can help design and track waste disposal sites and help reverse the damage in contaminated land and water.

They analyze the data and other research to evaluate the negative impacts on the environment. Based on their research, they create a plan to assist in preventing and fixing these environmental challenges from reoccurring. Their research writing can also include writing risk assessments and technical proposals and presenting their research and ideas to managers and regulators.

6. Farm manager

National average salary: $66,626 per year

Primary duties: Farm managers have several tasks that involve the general maintenance of a farm. Some of their responsibilities include overseeing the farm staff, ensuring the health of crops and livestock, repairing equipment and developing strategies for improving yield. They may also purchase necessary supplies and manage a budget to earn a profit.

7.  Compliance officer

National average salary: $67,225 per year

Primary duties: Compliance officers working within the environmental sector ensure industries, organizations and communities comply with environmental laws. These laws may include water, gas, oil, and energy production and usage regulations. Compliance officers may also evaluate environmental systems and projects and provide feedback about their adherence to relevant laws.

A few other duties for this rule can include developing plans, creating permits and explaining procedures for various environmental aspects like air quality, spill prevention and stormwater. These individuals may have computer skills to use geostatistical software for creating databases and spreadsheets for the data they gathered.

8. Solar installer

National average salary: $67,295 per year

Primary duties: Also known as photovoltaic installers, solar installers place solar panels on commercial facilities, homes or plots of land. To ensure the panels work effectively, installers follow specific requirements for locating installation sites, securing equipment and assembling panels. Solar installers then connect the panels to electricity sources using methods that comply with industry standards and safety regulations.

9.  Landscape architect

National average salary: $71,146 per year

Primary duties: Landscape architects design outdoor landscapes, like garden beds and walkways, and features for commercial and residential clients. They meet with clients, engineers and other architects to assess the required work.

Based on their meetings, they prepare a site plan and determine a project's cost and specifications. Typically, a landscape architect's goal is to enhance a space's natural beauty and environmental benefits. Their other roles can include environmental restoration, such as streams and wetlands.

10.  Environmental consultant

National average salary: $76,405 per year

Primary duties: An environmental consultant can use their knowledge in risk assessment, environmental compliance and environmental impact to advise clients, like public and private sectors. The advice can include how the client can improve its business strategies and processes to positively affect the environment. Additionally, they can research in the field or at their desk to provide the most up-to-date information to their clients about environmental and sustainable development.

11. Air quality engineer

National average salary: $81,366 per year

Primary duties: Air quality engineers monitor and test the quality of the air to pinpoint hazards or toxins. They often use specialized equipment, data processing software and statistical analysis to collect and evaluate their findings.

If they identify environmental threats, they create a plan to resolve issues and prevent or minimize future occurrences. Additionally, they may modify or design specialized equipment for pollution control.

12. Agricultural equipment technician

National average salary: $83,866 per year

Primary duties: Agricultural equipment technicians assemble, test and design farm machinery for various uses. Some of these uses include feeding animals, planting, harvesting and irrigating. Technicians may work in manufacturing facilities that create sustainable machinery, such as autonomous equipment and irrigation drones.

13.  Environmental manager

National average salary: $87,004 per year

Primary duties: Environmental managers promote sustainability by overseeing the environmental actions of various organizations. They ensure these companies follow environmental laws regarding waste, air quality and the use of other natural resources.

These laws can also include confirming materials and ingredients are ethically and environmentally sourced. They may create techniques, systems and tools to implement and monitor sustainable practices.

Their other duties can include creating educational resources for the public, their clients or their staff members, staying up-to-date with environmental legislation changes and training all staff members on environmental processes.

Read more: Learn How To Become an Environmental Manager

14. Civil engineer

National average salary: $87,696 per year

Primary duties: Civil engineers supervise and design major public and private construction projects like roads, bridges, buildings, railways and airports. They also ensure project feasibility by evaluating their budget demands and design practicality. Civil engineers can specialize in many areas, including environmental engineering, and may work closely with sustainability teams to create environmentally friendly infrastructure.

Related: Learn About Being a Civil Engineer

15.  Water resources engineer

National average salary: $88,107 per year

Primary duties: Water resources engineers design and implement water treatment systems, such as dams and reservoirs, to conserve and use water efficiently. These individuals can also assess the water needs of communities and regularly review the water resources in these areas.

Additional duties can include designing water treatment plants and providing the correct systems, like pipelines and pumps, to manage wastewater for private and public usage. Water resources engineers may also foresee project costs and compliance with various safety regulations.

16.  Energy manager

National average salary: $89,200 per year

Primary duties: Energy managers monitor the energy efficiency of a company, organization or facility. They evaluate their conservation practices and monitor their energy consumption to create a plan to improve overall energy efficiency and reduce energy-related costs.

Their roles can also include redesigning energy processes, retrofitting buildings or equipment and planning energy-related systems. Energy managers may also work with other members of the management team to suggest energy usage improvements, present reports and help develop budgets.

17. Environmental engineer

National average salary: $90,759 per year

Primary duties: Environmental engineers create solutions for various environmental issues through chemistry, biology and soil science. They help solve challenges related to water pollution, air quality, recycling and other environmental matters.

In some positions, these individuals can improve wastewater treatment and environmental compliance. Environmental engineers may work in organizations like government agencies, waste management facilities and engineering firms.

Related: Learn About Being an Environmental Engineer

18.  Nuclear engineer

National average salary: $94,550 per year

Primary duties: Nuclear engineers develop, monitor and operate nuclear plants that produce power. They ensure these plants function correctly and that the design, construction and processes meet industry and legal regulations.

Nuclear engineers may also create and evaluate operational practices, test emergency response methods and train professionals on how to manage the plant safely. Some additional duties for this role include designing nuclear equipment like medical machinery, tracking and responding quickly to emergencies and researching alternative and more efficient ways to use nuclear energy.

19.  Sustainability engineer

National average salary: $96,790 per year

Primary duties: Sustainability engineers create products, buildings and various systems to meet sustainability standards or specifications. They also ensure these projects use energy sustainably and develop improvements to resolve inefficiencies.

Sustainability engineers may meet with clients and management teams to discuss plans, offer and receive feedback and report on the performance of existing systems. Additionally, these individuals can establish systems to help with recycling and reusing materials, which can increase energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.

20. Environmental health and safety officer

National average salary: $104,908 per year

Primary duties: Environmental health and safety officers create and implement health and safety plans and oversee related documentation and data. They evaluate environmental concerns and ensure compliance with government safety regulations. Environmental health and safety officers may also collect hazardous materials samples and recommend changes that can help create a safer and healthier environment.

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