(The Talk) – When President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act in August 2022, he called it the “biggest investment ever” to fight climate change. He also said it would lead to the creation of good-paying union jobs to help “reduce emissions in every sector of our economy.” These jobs are also known as “clean energy jobs” and are expected to grow in the coming years as a result of the Act’s $369 billion investment in energy security and climate change.
Here, career and technical education expert Shaun Dougherty answers five questions about clean energy jobs, their expected growth, and what education a person should have.
1. What is “clean energy” business?
In general, the term refers to any work related to the production of products and the provision of services aimed at protecting or preserving natural resources or reducing their use.
So there are jobs manufacturing equipment for solar panel and wind turbine components. There are also sales jobs in solar, meaning selling solar panels to homeowners and homeowners, as well as installation, maintenance, and repair jobs in both the solar and wind industries. There is also a growing demand for environmental engineers and scientists whose jobs help design solar panels and wind turbines and determine where to place them.
2. How many green jobs will be created in the next few years?
About 9 million clean energy jobs will be created over the next decade, according to an analysis by UMass Amherst’s Institute for Political Economy Research.
The federal government also predicts strong growth in clean energy jobs over the next decade. Many of these jobs are expected to be installers and technicians for both solar and wind energy. For example, a 68% increase in wind turbine maintenance jobs and a 52% increase in solar panel installation jobs are predicted over the next decade. However, the actual increase in such jobs will be relatively small: 4,700 and 6,100, respectively.
The need for environmental scientists and specialists who use scientific knowledge to protect the environment and human health is also increasing. The federal government plans to create 7,300 new jobs in these areas over the next ten years.
3. What is the salary of these jobs?
Clean energy jobs pay at least $2 an hour, or about 10% more than the national average of $23.86 an hour.
Labor Department estimates show that clean energy jobs are doing well in all occupations. For example, solar installers can earn about $47,000 a year, wind turbine technicians about $52,000 a year, and engineers about $100,000 a year.
4. What education do you need to find a green job?
Not much more than high school. Solar installation jobs usually only require a high school diploma. Turbine technicians need more advanced training, but this is usually a certification that can be obtained at a technical or community college. However, the highest-paying jobs, such as environmental science or engineering, require a two- or four-year college degree.
Also, college isn’t the only way to get a clean energy job. You can get a clean energy job through Job Corps, a federal program that works with youth who have difficulty getting an education or a job. Research shows that Job Corps, at least historically, increases the earnings of the youth it serves.
Getting the technical education you need from your local high school can be difficult. It also depends on where you live.
5. Where is the best place to live to find a green job?
Today, there are more green jobs in places built to provide renewable energy and create incentives to build infrastructure for clean energy. For the sun, that means popular sunny spots like California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Texas, Florida, and Colorado. It also includes states such as North Carolina, New York and Massachusetts that have created incentives to increase their capacity to use clean energy. Texas is the best place to do wind energy, but other Plains states like the Dakotas are also doing well.
A recent report from the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit public policy organization, highlighted where wind and solar energy generation is cheapest. This includes areas where there are many jobs in non-renewable energy as opposed to clean energy.
This is a hopeful sign. This suggests that clean energy jobs could come to areas that stand to lose as the country moves toward greater reliance on renewable energy.
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