From solar and wind energy to the environment, there are many jobs in the green industry available to those without a college degree. Sustainability concerns continue to dominate every industry, creating jobs in nearly all job sectors in the economy. Here’s a look at some roles in the green economy that you can get with a high school diploma or GED.
Solar installers assemble, set up, and maintain photovoltaic systems that convert sunlight into energy. Installers travel to outdoor job sites; occasionally a job can occur in attics and crawl spaces to connect panels to the building’s electric grid.
The job outlook is excellent, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics expecting growth in the field to exceed 50% over the next decade.
Requirements to be a Solar Installer
Solar installers must have a high school diploma (or GED) and about one year of on-the-job training. Online and community college training courses are available as well, but optional.
Median Salary for Solar Installers $45,000 per year
Wind turbine service technicians – also known as Windtechs – install, maintain, and repair wind turbines. The work occurs mostly outdoors, and requires climbing great heights with safety harnesses to do repairs with hand tools. Windtechs also service underground transmission stations.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects demand for this work to increase by 61% over the next 10 years.
Requirements to be a Windtech
Median Salary for Windtechs $53,000 per year
Landscapers plant trees, flowers, and shrubs to create new outdoor spaces or upgrade existing ones. They also care for plants, and may help construct hardscapes (walkways, patios, decks), or install lighting and sprinkler systems.
Landscaping workers are employed in a variety of residential and commercial settings, such as homes, apartment buildings, office buildings, shopping malls, and hotels and motels. The work is physically demanding and done in all weather conditions.
The job outlook is good, with a projected 10% growth over the next 10 years.
Requirements to be a Landscaper
Landscapers require a high school diploma or GED, with minimal on-the-job training. Specialty certifications are available for such activities as tree trimming, lawn care, and water-saving landscaping.
Median Salary for Landscapers $31,000 per year
Ecotourism is a niche subset of general tour guides in the travel industry. Ecotourism guides usually self-select their area of interest/expertise, and offer their services in a variety of ways: museum docents, regional tour guides, expedition guides. They may be self-employed or work for a tour agency.
Requirements to be an Ecotourism Tour Guide
There are no specific requirements to become an ecotourism guide, but a high school diploma or GED is expected. Practical skills include excellent verbal and written communication skills with a confident manner, and a desire to impart knowledge. Guides need to exhibit calm under pressure and cultural sensitivity to the tourists as well as the areas they will be working.
Median Salary for Ecotourism Tour Guides $27,000 per year
Automotive service technicians and mechanics inspect, maintain, and repair vehicles. Alternative fuel cars have systems that require specialized knowledge and skills.
The job outlook is steady over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Requirements to be an Alternative Fuel Auto Technician
These service technicians and mechanics require a high school diploma or GED. It’s good to have some high school courses in automotive repair and/or electronics. Expect some on-the-job training at a busy shop. Dealer garages and some independent shops will require certification through ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) to work on alternative fuel vehicles.
Median Salary for Alternative Fuel Auto Technicians $42,000 per year
The only difference between a green building construction worker and a regular construction worker is a dedication to following protocols established by the builder. These are usually around recycling and disposing of materials. Beyond that, green building focuses on the materials themselves, and design and engineering. Work can consist of commercial buildings as well as residential.
Jobs are expected to climb modestly over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Requirements to be a Green Building Construction Worker
As with conventional construction, this is a physically demanding job that sometimes requires working with hand tools at heights. Workers learn the trade through on-the-job training; no formal education is required. Some workers opt to go through an apprentice program, like the one outlined by the Laborers’ International Union of North America, which combines on-the-job training with some classroom instruction.
Median Salary for a Green Building Construction Workers $36,000 per year