Green shoots: Clean tech is the fastest growing job market

Jobs in the clean technology industry are growing twice as fast as the national average. So that's where the jobs are. Walletpop spoke with Ron Pernick, co-founder of West Coast-based Clean Edge and the author of The Clean Tech Revolution, to find out what these jobs are, how to land one, and, most importantly, how much they pay.

Here are some highlights from Clean Edge's recent report, Clean Tech Job Trends 2009, which I highly recommend you read if you want to know if this industry is for you. There are lots of resources for clean tech job trainings, education and job search engines, after the jump.

According to the report, jobs vary from accountant -- there's one we've heard before -- to wind turbine technician. From the report, here's a sample of jobs and their salaries:
  • Hardware Design Engineer, Smart Grid $87,700 Mid-Level; requires Engineering Bachelor's
  • Welder, Cutter, Solderer, or Brazer, Wind Power; salary: $50,300 Mid-Level; requires: High School/Associate's Degree
  • Wind Turbine Technician, Wind Power; salary: $52,600 Entry-Level; requires: Bachelor's Degree
  • Construction Superintendent, Wind Power; salary: $74,000 Senior-Level; requires: Bachelor's Degree
  • Field Service Engineer, Wind Power; salary: $62,400 Mid-Level; requires: Engineering Bachelor's Degree
But can these jobs be outsourced?
"You can't outsource the installation of a smart grid or putting in solar panels or maintenance," says Pernick. China's production of solar panels, for example, is faster and cheaper than in the U.S. As Pernick explains, that's due to China investing billions of dollars in clean energy infrastructure in a scramble to make 15% of its energy come from renewables by 2010. If the U.S. wants to remain a world leader, clean technology could be the next "space race."

As banks, productions plants and all other types of businesses shut down across the country, there's large clean-tech job growth in these fifteen major metro areas, as ranked in Clean Edge's report:

  1. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA
  2. Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County, CA
  3. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-CT-PA
  4. Boston-Worcester-Lawrence-Lowell-Brockton, MA-NH
  5. Washington-Baltimore, D.C.-MD-VA-WV
  6. Denver-Boulder-Greeley, CO
  7. Seattle-Tacoma-Bremerton, WA
  8. Portland-Salem, OR
  9. Chicago-Gary-Kenosha, IL-IN-WI
  10. Sacramento-Yolo County, CA
  11. San Diego, CA
  12. Austin-San Marcos, TX
  13. Phoenix, AZ
  14. Detroit-Ann Arbor, MI
  15. Houston-Galveston-Brazoria, TX

In Wixom, Michigan, for example, Ford Motor Company closed down a plant, ending 1,500 jobs. In that same town, a 320-acre facility is being built by Xtreme Power, which will be a renewable energy business park, employing potentially thousands when it opens in 2011.

"The number of U.S. direct jobs created per million dollar investment in building retrofits and smart grid is far greater than direct jobs created in the coal industry," the report states. So America, it looks like we're going to make it.

If you want more info on how to break into this industry, the report features resources, including the top community colleges for clean tech job trainings:
  • Community College/Continuing Education/Training
  • Amarillo College (Amarillo, TX) – Associate in Applied Science, Renewable Energy
  • Bronx Community College (Bronx, NY) – Center for Sustainable Energy
  • California Sustainable Building Training Program (CA)
  • Coconino Community College (Flagstaff, AZ) - Associate of Applied Science in Alternative Energy Technology
  • Columbia Gorge Community College (The Dalles, OR) – Associate of Applied Science Degree in Renewable Energy Technology
  • Indian Hills Community College (Ottumwa, IA) – Associate in Advanced Technologies – Renewable Energy Technology & Smart Grid
  • Lane Community College (Eugene, OR) – Sustainability Program
  • Laramie Community College (Cheyenne, WY) – Associate of Applied Science Degree in Wind Energy
  • Oakland Community College (Bloomfield Hills, MI) – Environmental Systems Technology Program
  • San Juan College (Farmington, NM) – Associate of Applied Science Degree in Renewable Energy
  • Solar Living Institute (Hopland, CA)
  • South Plains College (Levelland, TX) – Renewable Energy – Wind Technology Program
  • Wayne-Finger Lakes Board of Cooperative Educational Services (NY) – New Vision Renewable Energy Program
If you're ready to get yourself a clean-tech job or want to learn more about what's available, check out these job boards:
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