5 Important Careers for Environmentalists to Consider



Many millennials are in debt; in fact, around 81.5% of millennials are in debt. As a generation, they are more focused on looking for jobs that can help the environment, but with the amount of debt, they are also looking for jobs that pay well.

If this sounds like you, or you are interested in switching careers and looking for jobs that can help the environment, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Sustainable energy, reducing carbon footprints, and finding ways to be more eco-conscious are all things more and more people are focusing on, and jobs that can help the environment are in demand.

What types of jobs that can help the environment are available? Do you need special education or certifications? Check out the following five careers to see if one might be a perfect fit for you.

Solar Panel Installer

For those looking for challenging yet rewarding jobs that can help the environment, solar panel roof installation can be ideal. More homeowners and business owners than ever are aware of the need to reduce their carbon footprint. The solar industry continues to grow exponentially; therefore, being a solar panel installer is a career that provides plenty of opportunities for advancement and growth.

A solar panel installer is responsible for assessing a client’s property and installing panels that accommodate the client’s specific needs. Solar panel installers may install photovoltaic (PV) solar panels or solar thermal panels depending on the job. Precise measurements must be taken to ensure the panels fit seamlessly, and the installer is responsible for making sure all equipment is installed to meet code. Solar panel installation professionals also must connect the panels to an electrical system, since solar panels convert sunlight into electricity.

What does it take to become a solar panel roof installation expert? Fortunately for those looking for jobs that can help the environment, most solar panel installation jobs do not require post-secondary education or certification. However, if you are interested in advancing more quickly or earning a higher wage, having an education and certification can be to your advantage. Additionally, those who have a background in construction, mechanics, or electrical work can be helpful for those seeking to go into solar panel installation services.

How much will you earn in this position? That depends on a number of factors including your location, your education, your experience, and more. Many solar panel installation positions begin around $15 to $20 per hour, but those with more education or experience can make significantly more. Some solar panel installation professionals will work on their own, but for larger jobs, you will most likely work as part of a team.

Home Inspector

Home inspector may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you are looking for jobs that can help the environment, but it is a fulfilling career. Certified home inspectors are in demand, and you do not need a background in architecture, engineering, or construction, making the job perfect for people of all ages and backgrounds.

If you have ever considered buying a home, you know that hiring a certified home inspector can be invaluable in helping you to make a good investment. Homeowners who forgo a home inspection prior to purchasing can be left covering all costs of any issues or problems found within a home following the sale. A typical home inspection costs around $300 to $500 and is incurred by the potential buyer, but paying that small amount is well worth it if you find out you would need to immediately replace the roof on your newly purchased home.

As a home inspector, you may have a variety of jobs from inspecting new homes to entering properties that are considered to be a hazard to the community. From inspecting structural issues to cabinets and vanities for mold and other damage, your job is to ensure that the properties you inspect are up to code, clean, and inhabitable.

According to State Farm insurance, a home inspector must look at the following things before completing inspection:

  • Structural elements
  • Safety systems like fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Roofing
  • The basement to check for water damage
  • Exterior grounds to check for proper drainage, septic tank leaks, and more
  • The condition of the driveway
  • Appliances
  • Electrical and plumbing systems
  • Garages
  • The attic to check for proper insulation and ventilation

There are additional things a home inspector can do, and as a home inspector, you can also help people to make more energy-efficient choices for their homes.

Environmental Nonprofit Leader

When it comes to jobs that can help the environment, being the Chief Executive Officer of a nonprofit organization is one to aspire to. Recruiting services suggest that leadership roles in the environmental nonprofit sector often do not have clear-cut and defined paths. That is what makes networking so important for those who aspire to have a leadership role in the nonprofit sector.

Whether you want to work for a company that specializes in tree service or wildlife, one of the number one things experts suggest is to find a mentor. Many successful people in all types of industries suggest finding a mentor, and there is a good reason as to why. As mentioned earlier, the career path to nonprofit leadership roles is often not very linear. Having a mentor in jobs that can help the environment will help give you a guide for what your path to success may look like.

Gregory Cendena, the youngest executive of the Asian Pacifical Labor Alliance, said mentorship will allow you to “learn and understand what makes them good at what they do but also talk about the challenges they face and the skills you should pick up so you can handle the job.” In addition to gaining valuable insight from a mentor, you will also have the opportunity to make connections in the industry. A successful mentor will be able to introduce you to others so that you can expand your professional network.

If you are looking for jobs that can help the environment but are not sure what the right nonprofit for you is, you can also begin by volunteering your services. Not only will you get hands-on experience, but you will also be exposed to a number of operational facets of the organization you choose. One of the best ways to gain insight and first-hand knowledge is to volunteer with the fundraising or strategic planning committee. Knowing how to fundraise is an invaluable skill for leaders of environmental nonprofits, so getting this experience is a crucial step towards becoming a CEO of a nonprofit.

Another way you can get exposure without fully committing to working for jobs that can help the environment is to join the board of a nonprofit. Being a board member will provide you with helpful insights about how nonprofits are really run, and you will also gain a number of connections when you are ready to make a full-time commitment to being an environmental nonprofit leader.

Environmental Remediation Specialist

When it comes to jobs that can help the environment, working in an environmental remediation company is one of the best choices you can make. What is an environmental remediation specialist?

Environmental remediation involving removing pollutants and contaminants from the environment, so people who choose this career path will work in various positions to remove pollutants from soil and water. Ultimately, the goal of an environmental remediation company is to take polluted sites and restore them to their natural states with a number of methods, including water treatment systems.

Often, pollutants are left behind by industrial companies that have either gone out of business or moved, or that simply disregard current environmental regulations. The work that is done can range from small pollutant spills to larger environmental disasters that are overseen by the federal government, most specifically the Environmental Protection Agency.

If you are looking for jobs that can help the environment, environmental remediation offers a broad range of roles that include, but are not limited to:

  • Compliance offices
  • Conservation scientists
  • Environmental engineers
  • Hazardous materials removal workers

What type of education will you need to be an environmental remediation specialist? The answer to that varies greatly depending upon the position you choose. The annual salary or hourly wage of an environmental remediation specialist will also depend upon what role you choose.

For instance, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a conservation scientist is $63,330, and the position requires at least a bachelor’s degree in environmental science, agricultural science, or a similar field. If you want to be an environmental engineer, you will need a bachelor’s degree in a scientific field – specifically engineering-related – and many companies request a master’s degree as well. The median salary for an environmental engineer is $80,890 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If you want to look for jobs that can help the environment without having to get a college degree, consider a hazardous materials removal position. With a highschool degree, general education development (GED), or equivalent is typically all that is required to work as a hazardous materials removal specialist. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the median annual salary for this position is $37,590.

Environmental remediation positions have a number of important jobs that can help the environment, so there is a wide range of options depending on your employment and education preferences.

Environmental Lawyer

Some jobs that can help the environment require manual labor or outdoor work, but if the law has always interested you, practicing environmental law may be perfect. What is environmental law? Environmental law is a very broad area of law that deals with issues that include the protection of species, biodiversity, waste management, green initiatives, renewable energy sources, and air and water quality to name a few.

With the growing focus on global sustainability, many corporations are looking for environmental lawyers to advise them on sustainability issues and current green standards. As an environmental lawyer, you will represent clients in legal issues like land management, international resources law, climate change laws, and clean technology.

Like a mechanic knows how to change an oil filter, an environmental lawyer must learn the proper skill set in order to be successful. Becoming a lawyer requires unique skills and education. An environmental lawyer will need to be able to effectively communicate both in written documents and orally, and an ability to persuade others to a specific viewpoint is certainly an asset to winning court cases.

What kind of education do you need to become an environmental lawyer? You will need to get an undergraduate degree and a postgraduate Juris Doctor degree (JD). In many states, you cannot sit for the bar exam without obtaining a JD, so education beyond a four-year college degree is required. There are also other continuing education opportunities including a Master’s of law (LLM), Master’s of environmental law, or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). The more qualifications, education, and experience you have, the higher your salary will be. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for an environmental lawyer is $113,530 per year. With advanced degrees, you can look for environmentally-friendly boats for sale and enjoy a great standard of living.

There are also a number of professional organizations available for environmental lawyers. Globally, the professional organization for environmental lawyers is the Environmental Law Institute. Qualified individuals pay an annual subscription to be a member of the Environmental Law Institute. The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is a grassroots organization of environmental scientists, lawyers, and other professionals. For an annual fee, environmental lawyers can practice as an American Bar Association of lawyers. This group of professionals is responsible for regulating professional and ethical standards for lawyers.

There are more jobs that can help the environment available than ever before, and their importance cannot be understated. Whether you want to begin a career right out of high school and become a solar panel installer or hazardous materials removal expert, or you want to focus on your education and go on to get your JD or Ph.D., you have a number of options for jobs that can help the environment. No matter what type of job you want, working to save the environment is always a worthwhile and admirable cause and one you should be proud of pursuing.

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