Green Collar Jobs
The first known appearance of the term "green collar jobs" was in the 1999 book Green Collar Jobs by Alan Durning. The book is an overview of the changes in the post logging rural towns of the Pacific Northwest. The book recounts the transformation of these rural communities as they face the conflict of their traditional dependence on logging and fishing versus the region's evolving environmental goals.
The most important aspect of Durning's book is the need for a sustainable environment, as well as resource efficiency. Now, in 2008, this is a sentiment shared by millions of people as this wave of environmental sustainability and resource management has branched out from the rural towns of the Pacific Northwest to the urban communities of New York, and from the coasts of southern California to the plains of the Midwest. The country is now echoing the sentiments of Alan Durning, and the opportunities for participation in various sectors of American business are growing.
NOTE - Learn more about environmental jobs in our Outdoor Employment section.
Dr Raquel Pinderhughes of San Francisco State University defines green collar jobs as "blue collar jobs in green businesses - that is, manual labor jobs in businesses whose products and services directly improve environmental quality." With Pinderhughes' short and simple definition, we can see the importance of this movement from an environmental perspective.
The largest growth sector for green collar jobs has been in the renewable energy industry. Solar farms, wind farms, hydroelectric plants, and biofuel plants are being built around the country as the demand for alternative fuels is ever-increasing. Renewable energy companies hire all levels of employees, from installers to engineers, and technicians to project managers.
Green collar jobs are found on farms across America. Organic farmers, plant and soil scientists, and laborers are among the many fields of green workers in the agriculture industry. The JobMonkey blog has information about finding green jobs in the new economy.
The scientific fields are joining the green revolution as biotechnology (another agricultural profession and asset), green chemistry (lab), and environmental science (ecology, forestry, geology, the water sciences) are leading fields in the growing green science industry.
With the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) implementing the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), there is a growing need for "green" certified urban planners and architects.
In addition to what Pinderhughes' states in her definition, green collar jobs have also penetrated the white collar industry. Environmental lawyers work for governmental regulatory agencies, environmental agencies, and corporate businesses to ensure adherence and commitment to environmental standards and policies.
In the health and medicine sector, already popular methods of healing and treatment are growing. Acupuncture, herbal medicine, and massage therapy are three fields that have seen a growth in business and employment as individuals are seeking out new alternative forms of therapy.