Conversations about climate change have been happening for decades, but recent events, including soaring gas prices and extreme weather, have given these discussions a new urgency. In response, sectors like renewable energy, environmental science and forestry are growing rapidly, creating new jobs and a greater demand for workers to fill these roles.
Government and corporate leaders alike are turning their attention to the environment with goals of building a greener, more climate-resilient economy. Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai announced last year that its climate work would create more than 20,000 jobs in clean energy and related industries around the world by 2025. In April, President Biden unveiled a new plan to drastically reduce the United States's greenhouse gas emissions and create "millions of good-paying, union jobs" to combat climate change.
"There's more interest and demand for environmental jobs for a couple reasons," Valeria Orozco, the director of sustainability at Indeed, tells CNBC Make It. "Investors are increasingly asking companies about what they're doing to address the climate crisis, because science is alerting us of all these issues that could affect business — and investors don't like risk."
Orozco continues: "More workers now also want to be part of companies who are making commitments in that space. The Biden administration, too, is talking a lot about investing in climate change solutions, and those investments will require skilled professionals to work toward those solutions."
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in environmental science and specialties are projected to grow 8% the next decade, which is as fast as the average U.S. job growth rate. Indeed analyzed job postings on its website from July through September to determine which sustainability jobs are high in-demand, ranging from civil engineers who must consider environmental hazards and climate change adaptation in their projects to arborists who study and care for trees. Here are the 10 most in-demand jobs with an environmental focus and how much they pay:
1. Environmental specialist
Average salary: $63,915
According to Job Hero: "Environmental specialists observe a population's impact on the environment, identify problems, and recommend solutions. Duties [include] assisting and maintaining safety and environmental internal audit programs for different industry sectors, and conducting Annual Comprehensive Site Compliance Inspections, including visual observations of the site, operations, and reviews of related documents."
2. Civil engineer
Average salary: $83,970
According to the BLS: "Civil engineers conceive, design, build, supervise, operate, construct and maintain infrastructure projects and systems in the public and private sector, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment. Many civil engineers work in planning, design, construction, research, and education."
3. Environmental health and safety specialist
Average salary: $94,129
According to the BLS: "Environmental health and safety specialists study how environmental factors affect human health. They investigate potential environmental health risks. For example, they may investigate and address issues arising from soil and water contamination caused by nuclear weapons manufacturing. They also educate the public about health risks that may be present in the environment."
Average salary: $78,129
According to the BLS: "Some primary duties of foresters are drawing up plans to regenerate forested lands, monitoring the progress of those lands and supervising tree harvests. Another duty of a forester is devising plans to keep forests free from disease, harmful insects and damaging wildfires. Many foresters supervise forest and conservation workers and technicians, directing their work and evaluating their progress."
5. Environmental technician
Average salary: $40,158
According to Job Hero: "Environmental technicians use instrumentation and technology to monitor and control pollutants in the environment. Duties [include] conducting site surveys, assessments, inspections, and evaluations; conducting site assessments, evaluations, and monitoring of the installation storm water sewer system; and conducting chemical samples for environmental compliance."
6. Solar photovoltaic installer
Average salary: $63,200
According to the BLS: "Solar photovoltaic (PV) installers assemble, set up and maintain rooftop or other systems that convert sunlight into energy. Most solar panel installations are done outdoors, but PV installers sometimes work in attics and crawl spaces to connect panels to the electrical grid. Installers also must travel to job sites."
Average salary: $77,322
According to Job Hero: "Arborists plant, maintain, and remove trees and other woody plants using their knowledge of tree anatomy and biology along with climbing and trimming skills. Arborists can work for a wide variety of clients and organizations, ranging from landscaping companies to local or state governments."
8. Environmental manager
Average salary: $72,301
According to Job Hero: "Environmental managers work for organizations in various industries and make sure they are compliant with environmental guidelines and legal requirements. Typical duties include developing programs ensuring environment safety, doing paperwork, investigating accidents, handling administrative tasks, offering advice to senior management, and training employees on environmental issues."
9. Solar consultant
Average salary: $109,191
According to Zip Recruiter: "As a solar consultant, you help explain renewable energy systems and resources to potential customers. In this role, you may travel to visit potential job sites, help determine power needs, and use software to determine the actual costs and rate of return on solar systems."
10. Senior civil engineer
Average salary: $93,003
According to Job Hero: "Senior civil engineers are heavily involved in the planning process of projects, such as those encompassing roads and large buildings. They create budgets, review safety issues, conduct land surveys, and manage teams of surveyors, engineering technicians, and construction workers."