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Green Jobs on the Rise: 40,000 Created in 2nd Quarter
America’s green jobs are on the rise, according to a report from Environmental Entrepreneurs. The report released this month shows that about 40,000 new green jobs were created during the second quarter of 2013.
Lynn Albers, a postdoctoral student in mechanical engineering, said that North Carolina State University offers courses to help students prepare for joining the green jobs sector. Senior-level electives include Energy Conservation and Industry Design of Solar Thermal Systems.
Environmental studies graduates usually end up working for large environmental companies with a nationwide presence like ERM, SWCA Environmental Consultants, and Ameresco, or governmental organizations such as the U.S. EPA, or the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. Environmental non-profits are also hiring many fresh graduates.
"Green sector jobs are offered in sustainability, energy efficiency, renewable energy development, energy storage and energy transportation," Albers said.
Thousands of green jobs are being created by well-funded start-up companies creating new technologies for the smart grid (Silver Spring Networks), the automotive industry (Tesla Motors has created over 2,000 jobs in the past 2 years), and in the manufacturing sector (wind turbine manufacturing company Vestas).
Andrew Birch, a graduate student in hydrology, said green jobs are more than just an idealistic sentiment and that they are vital in today’s world. His research focuses on chemical and pesticide use in trees and agriculture, answering questions such as "Are products safe enough for use?" or "Is it okay to apply chemicals?"
Without being idealistic,, a sense that we have to protect our natural resources, and find new clean ways of producing energy are necessary to hold a green job.
"From a sustainability standpoint people are starting to realize how profitable it is to pay attention to the environment," Birch said.
Birch said that he decided on a career in hydrology for various reasons.
"I grew up outside, [there’s] limited deskwork," Birch said. "There’s the political and social side, like finding ways for people to understand topics like climate change."
For example, scientists at the University of California Irvine are currently conducting a study on reflectin, a protein produced by pencil squid, which enables them to change color and reflect light. Scientists hope to replicate reflectin’s properties to make military camouflage invisible to infrared rays.
Albers said it’s important to also demonstrate the importance of green jobs to younger students. N.C. State hosts Family STEM nights to encourage interest in elementary and middle school student through hands-on activities that teach science.
"[The goal] is to remove the fear factor of learning these disciplines,” Albers said. "It’s also to help the parents teach the materials to their children so they can succeed in school."
That success in school should translate to real world success after college. Bryan Maxwell, a graduate student in environmental engineering said N.C. State graduates work for a variety of green jobs.
"Graduates work for John Deere, the EPA and we had one graduate who was the Prime Minister of Irrigation and Drainage in Egypt," Maxwell said.