Top 10 Green Dream Jobs

Want to save the planet and earn a living while you do it? Maybe it’s time to consider a career change to one of these green dream jobs. There’s something here for every interest, skill set, and educational background. Best of all, many of these green jobs pay quite well—some over six figures.

Chief Sustainability Officer

Portrait of smiling businessman sitting on wall
Westend61 / Getty Images

A relatively new position, Chief Sustainability Officers serve as corporate champions of companies’ environmental efforts. "Companies are monitoring the impact they're having environmentally and on society, and the appointment of the CSO reflects an underlying need for companies to not only monitor but also improve their performance," said Harvard Business School associate professor George Serafeim in an interview with Forbes.

  • Annual Median Salary: $104,690
  • Occupational Outlook 2019-2029 (for Top Executives): 4%
  • Typical Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s Degree

LEED-Accredited Design Professional

Female senior architect at work in loft
Marcel Weber / Getty Images

LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is thegold standard for environmental engineering and building. Architects, engineers, designers, and other professionals can take the LEED Professional Exams and become certified.

  • Annual Average Salary: $56,000 - $118,000, depending on the job title 
  • Occupational Outlook 2019-2029 (for Architects): 1%
  • Typical Entry-Level Education (for Architects): Bachelor’s Degree

Environmental Lawyer

Business associates reviewing document
PhotoAlto/Eric Audras / Getty Images

Environmental lawyers advise clients on issues related to air and water quality, hazardous waste, sustainability, and more. These lawyers work for all levels of government as well as private law firms and non-profit organizations.   

  • Annual Median Salary (for Attorney/Lawyer): $122,960
  • Occupational Outlook 2019-2029 (for Lawyer): 4%
  • Typical Entry-Level Education: Doctoral or Professional Degree

Geoscientist

Geoscientist conducts tests
Christopher Kimmel / Getty Images

Some states require licensure for this job, which involves the study of the earth’s composition, history, and natural resources. Geoscientists may work with environmental scientists, and do their jobs both indoors (in offices and labs) and out (in the field). Travel is typically required in this job, which can take workers to both hot and cold climates.

  • Annual Median Salary: $92,040
  • Occupational Outlook 2019-2029: 5%
  • Typical Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s Degree

Environmental Engineer

Discussing blueprints in meeting
Hero Images / Getty Images

Environmental Engineers advise governments and private companies on the best ways to minimize the environmental impact of their projects. They might work on recycling programs, public health policy, or plans to reduce air and water pollution.

  • Annual Median Salary: $88,860
  • Occupational Outlook 2019-2029: 3%
  • Typical Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s Degree

Hydrologist

Hydrologist working in field
Ariel Skelley / Getty Images

Hydrologists study water availability and quality, collecting data and using it to formulate plans to improve resources. They might work for government agencies or private companies, and they tend to split their time between the office and the field—which for a hydrologist, might mean waist-deep in lakes, rivers, and streams.

  •  Annual Median Salary: $81,270
  • Occupational Outlook 2019-2029: 5%
  • Typical Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s Degree

Environmental Scientist

Scientist Examining Equipment Amidst Lavender Field Against Sky
Dariya Angelova / EyeEm / Getty Images

Environmental Scientists work for government agencies, consulting firms or other private companies, using their knowledge of natural sciences to inform policy that protects humans, animals, and the environment. Like many science careers, this one requires workers to split their time between the office and the field.

  • Annual Median Salary: $71,360
  • Occupational Outlook 2019-2029: 8%
  • Typical Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s Degree

Urban Farmer

Smiling woman standing in her rooftop garden
Westend61 / Getty Images

Love growing your own food, but can’t imagine leaving city life (or at least, town life) behind? Combine your passions with this dream green job. Urban farmers utilize (or create) green space in vacant lots, backyards, even rooftops.

Stats on urban farmers are hard to come by, but anecdotal evidence suggests this occupation is becoming more popular. In recent years, some condo developments have even hired their own on-staff urban farmer as a draw for potential buyers.

  • Annual Median Salary (for Farmer): $71,160
  • Occupational Outlook 2019-2029 (for Farmer): -6%
  • Typical Entry-Level Education: High School Diploma or Equivalent

 

Conservation Scientist

Serious scientist examining wind turbine model in laboratory
Hero Images / Getty Images

Conservation Scientists collect and analyze data to help manage parks and forests and protect the environment. They work with governments and landowners to improve land utilization without negatively impacting soil and water.

  • Annual Median Salary: $62,410
  • Occupational Outlook 2019-2029: 5%
  • Typical Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s Degree

Urban Planner

Architects examining architectural model in office
Resolution Productions / Getty Images

Urban Planner

Over two-thirds of urban and regional planners worked for local government in 2019, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Urban planners typically plan land use programs to help create and expand communities. This is an important role, especially in cities and towns that are experiencing high population growth.

  • Annual Median Salary: $74,350
  •  Occupational Outlook 2019-2029: 11%
  • Typical Entry-Level Education: Master’s Degree

Article Sources

  1. Forbes. “What Do Chief Sustainability Officers Do?” Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.

  2. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. “Top Executives.” Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.

  3. PayScale. “Salary for Certification: LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP)." Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.

  4. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. “Architects.” Accessed Oct. 9, 2020.

  5. [JL1]The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. “Lawyers.” Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.

  6. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. “Geoscientists.” Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.

  7. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. “Environmental Engineers.” Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.

  8. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. “Hydrologists.” Accessed Oct. 9, 2020.

  9. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. “Environmental Scientists and Specialists.” Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.

  10. The New York Times. “A Staten Island Urban Farmer.” Accessed Oct. 9, 2020.

  11. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. “Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers.” Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.

  12. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. “Conservation Scientists and Foresters.” Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.

  13. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. “Urban and Regional Planners.” Accessed Oct. 9, 2020.

  14. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. “Urban and Regional Planners.” Accessed Oct. 8, 2020.