Green Careers

Are you concerned about the environment? Do you want to help stem global warming and rainforest decimation? If so, a green career may be for you. Community colleges around the country are offering programs in sustainable energy, from solar panels to wind turbines. From biodiesel to energy storage, explore your green career options here.
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Growing a Career in Horticulture
If you have a green thumb and are looking for a growing career, consider the training opportunities available at community colleges.
The field of horticulture opens up a wealth of career opportunities, ranging from education and public service to landscape design and nursery management. Many community colleges have tuned into the value of offering a comprehensive horticulture program to students, providing plenty of educational options.

Grow interested in just a few examples of the many horticulture programs available across the country, as well as the career opportunities you can explore with a two-year degree or certification in this field.
This video describes the Horticulture Technology program at Alamance Community College.
Careers in Horticulture
According to the website for the American Society for Horticulture Science, there are many possible career paths to pursue a degree or training in the field of horticulture. Some of the possibilities include:
  • Education – Teach at the community college or university level.
  • Research – Conduct research through universities or companies involved in horticulture.
  • Entrepreneur – Own your own nursery, landscape design company or winery.
  • Parks – Become a part of botanical gardens, learning gardens or public parks and museums.
  • Public Service – Work in non-profit organizations or extension offices.
  • Golf and Sports – Design or manage golf courses, athletic fields or country clubs.
  • Production – Create an inventory for nurseries or landscape companies.
  • Landscape Design – Create beautiful outdoor spaces for commercial and residential properties.
  • Communication – Educate others about horticulture through mass media like radio and print publications.
  • Marketing – Promote nurseries, landscape companies or non-profits involved with horticulture.
The above list is not exhaustive, but it does exemplify just how wide the field of horticulture can be. If working outdoors with plants and landscaping sounds like the perfect career choice for
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Charge Your Career as an Energy Storage Technician
Learn about the growing demand for energy storage technicians and future job prospects in the field.
The “green jobs” that politicians have been talking about for the past several years may be starting to arrive. As the Grand Rapids Press reports, Michigan will likely soon be home to a new advanced battery-manufacturing plant run by Fortu Powercell Inc., a German-Swiss-based advanced battery manufacturer. The new plant should create up to 726 jobs in the coming years, according to state economists. 

This spells great news for prospective community college students looking for the appropriate training in the green technology field.
This video describes the ATRE Energy Storage Curriculum in the California community college system.
New Battery Plants Require a New Kind of Worker
“Clean Room” Environment Means Fewer Environmental Pollutants
Advanced battery-manufacturing plants will require specially trained technicians because of their unique environment. The Grand Rapids Press reports that the lithium-ion battery plant is a “clean room” environment, meaning a controlled work environment that, in contrast to typical manufacturing plants, has low levels of environmental pollutants. Work in these plants will include less of the hands-on duties that are seen in traditional auto manufacturing plants, but more monitoring of machines.
Plant Technicians Will Need Some Specialized Training
In a January 2010 Grand Rapids Press article, lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant manager Elizabeth Rolinski said that the jobs in these new plants will involve “a little less of the repetitive assembly work” and more of “learning how to monitor computers on how processes are going. Rolinski told the Press that “there will be a lot of
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A Smart Grid Degree Is A Smart Career Choice
The "smart grid" presents a myriad of opportunities for green collar jobs. Learn about the job prospects in the industry and how your local community college can provide you with the training to capitalize on this growing industry.
Our nation’s energy delivery system is undergoing a major transformation, and soon the “smart grid” will replace the electric system of yesteryear. 

The grid is deemed “smart” because it will have the capability to route power according to specific needs and conditions, which is a sharp contrast to today’s grid that merely “broadcasts” power from central generators. The smart grid is more reliable, transparent, cost-effective, and energy-effective than the current infrastructure, and the system is how America plans to manage its future energy independence, emergency resilience, and ability to generate clean power.   
This video explains smart grid technology.
Under the Obama Administration, along with the Federal Smart Grid Task Force established through the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the smart grid will soon become a reality. In fact, areas around the country, such as Southern California and Cincinnati, have already begun installing smart meters as a first step in creating a national system.
The Smart Grid: Smart Career Choices
The Department of Energy’s Grid 2030 Vision plans to modernize and revolutionize the current electric system within the next 10 years. The changes will impact every mile of the electricity system, reaching every single consumer and business. Clearly, a change of this magnitude will not only cost billions of dollars but create “green collar” job opportunities for many individuals. 
In fact, according to KEMA, the leading authority in energy consulting, in the next four years alone, the $16 billion earmarked for smart grid funding incentives will directly create 280,000
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Sustainable Energy Programs Translate into Sustainable Careers for Community College Students
With the change in energy production trends, sustainable energy technology careers are in high demand, and you can start your training for a highly-demanded career right at your local community college.
In today’s difficult job market, community college students looking to position themselves for career security and success have an exciting new set of options to consider: programs leading to associate’s degrees or certificates in sustainable energy technologies.  

A Growing Industry
Just a few years ago, sustainable energy was more of a dream than a reality. Today, sustainable energy is emerging as an industry in its own right – one that demands trained, competent workers. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (President Obama’s economic stimulus package) provides money for “solar farms, wind turbines, electrical grid updates, mass transit, and the weatherizing and retrofitting of buildings,” according to Business Week. By the estimates of some environmental groups, this spending is expected to produce 1 million to 1.5 million new jobs.
Reporting on the then-emerging trend in 2008, the New York Times articulated that national starting salaries for sustainable energy workers range from $35,000 to $45,000 for graduates of two-year degree programs.
Fortunately for college students who are attracted to the growth potential and solid starting salaries in this industry, community colleges are beginning to offer more programs in two-year degrees or certificates for prospective sustainable energy industry workers.
Sustainable Energy Degree and Certificate Programs
Across the country, community colleges are offering niche programs that can jumpstart your career in sustainable energy.   
At Massachusetts’s Greenfield Community College, students can earn an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency. Students are required to take a course called “Introduction to
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Alternative Automobiles: New Training Programs at Community College
Learn about the demand for technicians of alternative fuel automobiles and its future career potential. Start your career as an alternative fuel vehicle technician at your local community college.
The past decade has seen an explosion of hybrid cars powered by alternative fuels, rather than traditional gasoline. What once seemed a science fiction dream – powering cars with energy other than petroleum – is quickly becoming a reality. However, alternative fuels don’t stop with hybrid engines; experts are working on creating vehicles that can be powered by compressed natural gas, biodiesel, ethanol, and propane.

As the landscape of the American auto industry shifts to include more alternative fuel vehicles, there is an emerging market for auto technicians who are trained to service and repair these next generation cars. For those looking for a career in the auto industry with definite growth potential, a new training program for alternative fuel technicians available at community colleges could be an excellent investment.
Alternative Fuels Training Centers
West Virginia University started the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC) in 1992 to address the lack of technicians who were trained to work with the then-new Alternative Fuel Vehicles. In 1995, the NAFTC added six technical training centers to the existing West Virginia University center. Since then, the program has grown to include 42 members: 41 national training centers and 1 associate training center.
The training centers are located in community colleges and other institutes of higher education from California to Maine. In November 2009, the NAFTC’s e-newsletter reported that new members of the association include Washington’s Peninsula College, Massachusetts’s MassBay Community College, Florida’s Seminole Community College, and Maine’s Southern Maine Community College.
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