July 1, 2022

Career Column: Green Jobs

We are pleased to welcome Dr. Karen Goldfinger as a regular columnist.  Karen’s biweekly columns will focus on the world of work.  Dr. Goldfinger is a psychologist in Essex.  She has a special interest in career development, and she and two partners recently established KSB Career Consultants, LLC to provide on-line career consultation to clients in Connecticut and New York.  In her private practice she specializes in psychological assessment for clinical, educational, or forensic purposes. 

Love and work are fundamental. This column is about work, leaving love for others to expound on. Most of us have concerns about work these days, either for ourselves, our children, or someone else we care about. The world is changing, the job market is unlikely to return to what it once was, and people need to take steps to ensure their employability over the long term. That’s a good thing, because if we do that we have more control over our work lives than ever before.

I am writing this column to help readers think about their work lives and solve their work problems, from choosing a career wisely to landing the right job and knowing when and how to move on. I bring the perspective of a clinical psychologist with a special interest in career development. This is a large subject, with historical, economic, sociological, technological, and practical elements, in addition to the psychological. I will try to cover them all, in bits and pieces if not comprehensively.

Each month the column will focus on a topic related to the world of work. I will also provide information about careers in specific industries and tips about career related resources. I will present information that will interest a wide range of readers, from those thinking about their first job after college to older workers looking for a second or third career following retirement, both professionals and non-professionals. I hope that readers find something interesting and useful in every column.

Green Jobs

Green jobs are where politics, science, and the economy collide. At least $50 billion dollars of the stimulus bill (ARRA) enacted in early 2009 was targeted for green jobs. Concretely, the money is meant to be used for the development of electric cars, wind energy, a “smart grid”, weatherization programs, training grants and a range of other sustainable energy and conservation oriented goals. But the focus on green jobs is not new to the Obama administration. A Green Jobs Act was passed by Congress in December of 2007 and signed by President Bush to fund job training programs to support green industries. Government funding for green jobs is also international in scope, with programs in Europe beginning in 1997 and international labor and United Nations programs initiated in 2007. Green industries are likely to be expanding in coming years, given the push for renewable sources of energy and concerns about climate change.

A formal definition of green jobs was announced last week by the United States Department of Labor (September 21, 2010). Green jobs, officially, are:

  • Jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources.
  • Jobs in which workers’ duties involve making their establishment’s production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources.

These are jobs in renewable energy (wind, solar, biofuels, etc.), energy efficiency, pollution reduction and removal, conservation of natural resources, and environmental compliance and education. According to Department of Labor statistics, the largest percentage of green jobs are in the construction industry (38%, DOL, 2010) and in professional services/business (36%, DOL, 2010), but there are also green jobs in education, government, and other areas. Note that businesses and organizations of all types have sustainable energy initiatives and need staff to manage them.

Many people choose green jobs because of a sense of moral responsibility and the chance to have a positive impact on the world over the long term. Some choose green jobs because they are excited about finding solutions to challenging scientific and engineering problems with real world implications. For others, green jobs and green businesses are where the money is going for the foreseeable future, and they want to capture their share. An interest in the science and politics of green industries is relevant to all who pursue green careers, because opportunities in the field are evolving and those who are informed will be in the best position to make good career choices. Continually upgrading knowledge and skills will also be important, so if you pursue a green career, plan to keep on learning.

If you are interested in pursuing a green job for any or all of these reasons, there are a lot of resources to help you succeed.

From an education perspective, most states offer affordable training opportunities at the community college and university level. For example, at community colleges in Connecticut there are new grant-funded certification programs in sustainable and alternative energy that can be completed full-time in a year (or part-time over a longer period). More information is available at www.commnet.edu/soar/ChooseProgram.asp. At a more advanced level, students at Eastern Connecticut State University can minor in Sustainable Energy Studies in preparation for a career in energy policy. In New York, students can get a Bachelor’s degree in Alternative & Renewable Energy Systems at Canton College of Technology, a state college, or an Associate’s degree in Natural Conservation at Morrisville State College. These are representative of many examples. Every state has similar opportunities in state funded and private programs.

From a jobs perspective, you can search for green jobs at these and other websites: www.greenjobs.com/public/index.aspx and www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/greendreamjobs.main/?CFID=15371151&CFTOKEN=85027571.

Career Spotlight: Television Production

If you want to work in television production, start when you are young, plan to work really hard for long hours, especially early in your career, and be willing to relocate. Careers in television production are not for middle aged career changers or for the timid. But for young people who are energetic, ambitious, and talented, television production can offer an exciting career path with a lot of potential. Regardless of the state of the economy, a great deal of money is spent on creating entertainment, much of it for television (which does not seem to be going away as an entertainment medium), and television production is labor intensive. There are jobs for make-up artists, camera operators, sound technicians, casting agents, writers, producers, set and costume designers, directors, editors and other personnel. For all of these positions, workers have to learn their craft, whether at college, technical school, or elsewhere, and then they have to get their foot in the door, starting out as an assistant for a low wage. It is as viable a career path as any for young people with the right temperament and aspirations. If you are motivated enough, you will figure out how to get there on your own, but here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Find contacts in the industry through personal connections, faculty members, mentors or your school’s career office. These people can teach you about the industry and, if you are lucky, help open some doors.
  • Look for internship or entry level free lance production assistant opportunities, and while you are working at them, learn everything you can. Try these websites for internship and job possibilities: www.mandy.com, www.media-match.com/usa/.

Career Resource: Occupational Outlook Handbook

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook for 2010-2011 is free and on line at www.bls.gov/oco/. This is a comprehensive resource that covers hundreds of occupations, providing detailed information about job responsibilities, training requirements, salaries, job titles, and job prospects. Some occupations are covered in more depth than others. For example, there is a good section on employment issues for lawyers. It is easy and worthwhile to explore the information available here whether you are thinking about a first career or a career change.

Karen Goldfinger, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice in Essex, Connecticut.   She specializes in psychological assessment for clinical, educational, and forensic purposes and has a special interest in career assessment.  She and two partners recently established KSB Career Consultants, LLC to provide on line career consultation for clients in Connecticut and New York.   Contact her with questions,  comments, or suggestions for the column at karengoldfinger@comcast.net