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Thinking About Going Green?

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Whether you're a student, a career seeker, or currently employed and looking for other opportunities, it's hard to ignore the emergence of "green careers." Getting in on the ground floor of this promising field is a top priority for professionals looking for growth areas in a halted economy. President Obama's new stimulus package includes $16.8 billion in renewable energy-related industries which include the fields of solar energy, wind farming, architecture, mass transit, and engineering. With this infusion of attention and resources, which sectors of the green industry are likely to grow? Here are green career opportunities to consider if you're thinking of making the leap to this new, exciting frontier.

Alternative Energy
Alternative energy refers to any source of usable energy intended to replace fuel sources without the negative consequences of the replaced fuels. Examples include wind, solar, hydrogen, bioenergy, and biofuels. "Positions that immediately spring to mind are ones like solar panel installer or energy engineer," says sustainability expert Jeff Dysart. "But other peripheral positions include urban planners, public transit workers, wind and solar salespeople, and compliance advisors." College courses on wind, solar, and hydroelectric power are becoming increasingly popular with students. Smart professionals are beginning to realize just how wide the green umbrella stretches and they are getting into areas like research and development and efficiency retrofitting.

Most green jobs are not completely new positions, but existing ones that are re-purposed to be environmentally viable. The transportation infrastructure encompasses everything connected to clean technology and vehicles including automobiles, planes, and mass transit trains. "In the bus and rail divisions and with the proposed new construction, the LA Metro is committed to sustainable green projects and incorporating green initiatives," says Tom Kefalas, Principal Environmental Specialist for the Los Angeles Metro. Positions include transportation supervisors and dispatchers, and database specialists with the technical expertise to set up and oversee systems used to track and evaluate information like carbon emissions and energy usage.

Green Building
Construction of environmentally-friendly buildings designed to use energy, water, and other resources to their maximum efficiency is on the rise. "Even though new construction is slow because of the economy, existing office buildings and plants need retrofitting," says Dysart. Related positions include community planners, construction managers, electricians, and architects. The important thing to keep in mind is that the green job revolution is in its infancy and promises to keep evolving. When you're looking for lucrative fields to enter, remember that while sustainability is important, industries still have to be profitable over the long haul.

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