5 Green Jobs in Engineering

April 22, 2013

Green Engineering Jobs

Earth Day is our annual reminder that this planet is only as habitable as our continued efforts to keep it that way. And engineers, of course, are the day-to-day problem-solvers developing the technologies that make this world a more sustainable and healthier place to live.

But categorizing “green” engineering jobs is difficult because so many different disciplines have applications in the “green economy.” Below we’ll cover examples of 5 Green Jobs in Engineering, from environmental to wind energy, and discuss median salaries and growth along the way.

Environmental Engineers

Environmental Engineering Jobs

Environmental engineering is a broad umbrella category for engineers who use soil science, chemistry, biology and the principles of engineering to develop solutions for environmental problems. They don’t even necessarily have degrees in environmental engineering; many job postings for environmental engineers include civil or even geotechnical engineering degrees as prerequisites.

Environmental Engineers may be assigned to tackle a wide variety  of problems; from sewage and wastewater treatment to beach erosion, recycling and even public health. You can find environmental engineering jobs in every state and, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field will see 22% growth between 2010 and 2020 with median salaries around $78,740.

Sample Job & Description: 

Environmental Engineer

Key Responsibilities:
•Provides corporate oversight of programs including allocation of corporate resources, resolving issues at the corporate level, and monitoring client services and client satisfaction.
•Provide agency interpretations/clarification on environmental regulations and requirements.
•Assemble data for environmental compliance reports, general enforcement issues, metrics and performance tracking, and assure that reports are submitted in a timely manner to meet required deadlines.
•Provide assistance to ensure compliance with agreed orders and other legal documents.
•Maintain strong relationship with federal, state and local regulators.
•Serve as environmental consultant providing general environmental expertise on air, water and waste issues, emissions and release calculations, and pollution prevention strategies for various expense and capital projects.
•Ability to oversee and manage employees.

Professional Qualifications:
•Master’s degree or equivalent combination of education & experience in areas of environmental science, business, information technology, public policy, engineering, economics, social sciences, physical sciences or related disciplines.
•18+ years of relevant work experience.
•Experience in air, water, and waste regulations and a demonstrated ability in understanding, interpreting, and communicating complicated environmental laws and regulations to Operations, Technical and Maintenance personnel.
•Ability to solve complex problems both long and short term impacts dealing with environmental issues.
•Ability to effectively communicate both verbally and written.
•Able to handle multiple tasks concurrently and meet deadlines.
•Professional certifications and credentials in environmental and engineering related disciplines such as Professional Engineer, Qualified Environmental Professional, Board Certified Environmental Engineer, Registered Environmental Auditor, Site Remediation Professional, and/or Wastewater Treatment License.


Biofuel Engineering

Biofuel Engineering jobs

This emerging niche in industry pulls from Mechanical and Chemical Engineering, principally. Unlike other green engineering disciplines, once they become commercially viable, biofuels may fundamentally change our way of life. They may fuel cars, heat homes, and even power jets.

Sample Job & Description: 

Plant Engineer – Biofuels

B.S. Engineering Degree (ME or ChemE) or even possibly a non-degreed candidate; 3+ years of experience out of a background such as chemicals, petrochemicals, refining, ethanol, corn-milling, etc. This person must have experience overseeing construction of projects from $100K up to $500K. Personality-wise, this person will need to be a very effective communicator.

This person will be based near Des Moines (or near Waterloo) at a 50-person ethanol production facility and these positions are newly created openings. The primary focus of this job will be upgrading and retrofitting of ethanol production processes and equipment. The main equipment includes distillation towers, fermentation units, dryers, evaporators, pumps, valves, heat exchangers, etc. The typical project size will range from $50K to $500K. This person will handle all phases of the project, from design through installation and will be primarily focused on installation. If the workload is too great or the project size is too large, contracting firms may be brought on-board, which this person will oversee. The parent company is a multi-billion dollar chemical, oil and gas manufacturer. Travel for this position may be up to 20%, mostly local to other company facilities in the region.

Salary Range: $85,000 to $100,000/yr. base salary


Wind Energy / Wind Turbine Engineering

Green Jobs in Engineering

A technician performing maintenance on top of a wind turbine.

When you see a wind turbine who do you think built it? A team of mechnical engineers? Civil and Geotechnical engineers, certainly. But did you consider composites?

Sample Job & Description: 

Materials Engineer/Scientist (Composites)

The successful applicant will work through the application of science and engineering principles to problems related to the understanding, characterization, and development of new technology necessary for the processing and manufacturing of different materials and products relevant to wind turbine systems.

Specifically, the candidate will lend his or her composite materials expertise in the analysis of projects related to wind turbine blade technologies (blade construction materials and coatings). Additionally, successful applicant may participate in out-year planning and analysis activities, helping to ensure the proper stewardship of tax payer funds. Applicant should be comfortable working independently, have the ability/drive to bring new project ideas to the client, as well as following client directions. Ability to communicate engineering terminology and concepts to non-technical supervisors is a must. Ability to conduct budget scenario planning is highly desired. Experience with Non-destructive testing/inspection/examination techniques (NDT/NDI/NDE) and relevant wind industry experience highly desired.

Developing more efficient, productive wind turbines involves a team of talented engineers pulled many specialties. Civil engineers design and supervise the construction of wind farms, aerospace engineers are involved in site selection and the design and testing of the turbine blades, and industrial engineers are tasked with finding the most productive way to produce the components for wind turbines.

Because so many different kinds of engineers are employed in this industry, the median salary isn’t fixed. According to the BLS the median salaries by engineering discipline are about the same in Wind Energy as in other engineering industries.

BLS 2012 Statistics on Wind Energy Engineering Salaries


Solar Engineers

Solar Engineering Jobs

Solar panel technology, like wind energy, relies on a collaborative team of many different engineering disciplines. From conception to prototype solar panel technology will involve Materials, Chemical, Electrical, Industrial, Mechanical, and Computer software engineers – among others.

Solar technology is also enjoying rapid, recession-defying growth. According to The Solar Foundation, solar jobs saw 13.2% employment growth rate over the previous year in the United States.

Sample Job & Description: 

Senior Solar Systems Design Engineer/Project Manager

Tetra Tech currently has an opportunity for a Senior Solar Systems Design Engineer/Project Manager to focus on solar electric design and engineering for major solar projects in either our Irvine or San Francisco, California office. In this position, you will coordinate directly with clients and internal staff to create design documents and construction plans for utility-scale and commercial Solar PV systems. Tetra Tech is looking for a candidate with strong engineering and construction project management competencies, extensive experience in large-scale design and construction projects, excellent communication skills, and strong knowledge of the state of the art equipment and processes.



LEED Certified Engineers & Certified Energy Managers

LEED Green Construction Jobs

From Construction to Mechanical Engineering, the demand for LEED Certified Engineers and Certified Energy Managers is increasing year over year. According to the BLS, Green Construction accounted for only $3 billion in 2005 but is expected to reach $122 billion in revenue by 2015.

Sample Job & Description: 

Resource Efficiency Manager (REM)

This position performs a wide spectrum of energy engineering and management functions with the primary goal of reducing energy consumption and costs. The required energy management and engineering skills include: Developing, reviewing and monitoring various energy projects, Strategic Energy Planning (multi-year planning), in depth understanding of Building Automation Systems /Energy Management Control Systems, utility data analysis, commissioning processes (Cx, ReCx,and RCx), and Operations and Maintenance practices, as well the ability research and recommend new technologies.

Qualification requirements are: U.S. citizenship, BSME/EE (or similar engineering degree), or least 8 years direct experience in energy management of existing facilities, and demonstrated ability to achieve great energy efficiency results autonomously. Experience with building automation systems, Federal Energy and Sustainability Initiatives, Utility data analysis and Retrocommissioning (RCx). Qualifications considered to be extra valuable are: energy management experience involving federal facilities, Certified Energy Manager (CEM) certification, LEED AP and/or EB certified and/or Professional Engineering (PE) license.


Image credits: Bruce Irving, Sandia LabsSeth Anderson