Cool Jobs: Saint Patrick's Day Edition
...Yeah, you thought I was going to say drinking, didn't you? Fine, we'll call it two things. But in honor of the festivities, we're running down the best green jobs now hiring--the ones that let you work with solar panels, farm implements, and anything else that's environmentally friendly. It's a great time to go green; according to LinkedIn, the solar industry alone added more than 15,000 people in 2013, and looks to continue expansion this year. So raise a glass, grab your comically oversized leprechaun hat, and check out our picks for the ten coolest green jobs.
1. Aquaponics Technician
What it is: You've probably heard the term "hydroponic" before, usually in reference to gardening (or genetically enhanced superweed). Aquaponics, on the other hand, refers to the use of water to create a healthy balance between plant life and fish. Pentair Aquatic Eco-Systems, who posted the listing, describe themselves as being at the center of "global aquatic commerce," which doesn't refer to transactions completed by sharks and guppies, but is still pretty cool in our book.
Who it's for: Octopus's gardeners
> Apply for a job as an aquaponics technician
2. HVAC Design Engineer
What it is: A job designing ventilation shafts--on Cool Jobs? That's right. HVAC is an essential part of any fully functioning structure, and few jobs are as closely tied to sustainability and energy efficiency. This is a field with plenty of room for innovation; the world is still waiting for an environmentally friendly smokestack, for example. So, yes--a job designing ventilation shafts. On Cool Jobs.
Who it's for: Someone who's full of hot air
> Apply for a job as an HVAC design engineer
3. Solar Sales Consultant
What it is: You sometimes hear stories about people who have gone off the grid, living entirely off of solar energy, growing their beards and eating nothing but wheat germ. But solar energy isn't just for the dirty hippies of the world anymore. It's actually a growing alternative energy source, both affordable and easily adaptable. Still, someone's gotta sell those solar panels--that's where you come in. But when you consider how hip your customers will look with those things attached to their garages, it shouldn't be too challenging.
Who it's for: Sun junkies
> Apply for a job as a solar sales consultant
4. Farm Manager
What it is: Who hasn't dreamed about working on a farm at one point or another? The image of the peaceful farmer surrounded by animals has managed to endure, even as the agriculture industry has hyper-commercial. But you might want to replace those worn-out overalls you're picturing with a sharp new suit, because that farmer is now a "farm manager," a highly trained professional who supervises a team of up to ten and possesses an in-depth knowledge of "Precision Ag systems." Put down the pitchfork and pick up a laptop!
Who it's for: Young rural professionals
> Apply for a job as a farm manager
5. Assistant Water Pollution Control Plant Superintendent
What it is: This job listing includes the words "sludge plant." No, you're not manufacturing sludge; you're treating wastewater so that it's clean and safe prior to its release back into the environment. There's a managerial angle as well as a scientific one--you'll be analyzing lab data, after all--so check this one out if you're not afraid of a little sludge in your life.
Who it's for: Crystal clear communicators
> Apply for a job as a water pollution control plant superintendent
6. Tropical Agroforestry Internship
What it is: From your kitchen to your workplace, coffee is such a common sight (and smell) that it's easy to forget that it doesn't just arrive to us via some supernatural, Splenda-stocking force. This internship's your chance to get up close and personal with some of Belize's sustainable coffee farmers, while assisting researchers and learning about biodiversity. You'll also get to live in a rainforest. Bring a tent.
Who it's for: Bean counters
> Apply for a tropical agroforestry internship
7. Sustainability Specialist
What it is: It doesn't get greener than this. As multinational corporation Schneider Electric's sustainability czar, you'll partner with clients in developing initiatives on energy emissions, water stewardship, green chemistry, and more, all while evaluating renewable technology opportunities and serving as a kind of in-house sustainability watchdog.
Who it's for: High-powered individuals
> Apply for a job as a sustainability specialist
8. Wind Turbine Service Technician
What it is: Wind turbines are an oddly soothing sight. You know, those big propeller-looking things, usually a whole bunch of them laid out in a field. But wind turbines also serve an essential function, converting wind energy--fast becoming one of the most important renewable energy sources--into electrical power. But just like your car or computer, sometimes wind turbines break down. Good thing there are technicians out there who are solely dedicated to fixing them--although unlike auto mechanics, we're guessing they don't wear greasy jumpsuits that say "Larry" on the front pocket. Although, hey, no one's stopping you.
Who it's for: People with wind at their back
> Apply for a job as a wind turbine service technician
9. Site Director - Cascadian Farm
What it is: Cascadian Farm is one of the country's leading brands of organic foods. Owned by cereal giant General Mills, the brand specializes in gourmet frozen vegetables and has an ongoing commitment to sustainability. Here's your chance to go hands-on with their produce while also operating on a decision-making level, building relationships with the sustainable agriculture community and collaborating with the company's Organic Ambassador.
Who it's for: Anyone who considers frozen peas one of the best things you can eat, period
> Apply for a job as a site director
10. Urban Planner
What it is: Urban planners are an essential piece of the sustainability puzzle. Think of how huge a role things like public transportation play in determining America's carbon footprint, and you start to get an idea of how important good planning is to our planet's future. It's also a great time to get your foot in the door; Fast Company recently reported that employment in this sector is expected to grow by 15 percent by 2016. Sounds like a plan to us!
Who it's for: Bicycle commuters
> Apply for a job as an urban planner