Top 10 Cleantech Jobs

There’s a lot of talk about how many jobs the cleantech revolution is going to create. If you think about all the various sectors — solar, biofuels, water, to name a few — one would think the number of jobs created would be in the millions. And if you’re an American, it’s important that many of the jobs promise to be geographically-based, i.e., a company couldn’t outsource its labor even if it wanted to.

But what are these jobs going to look like? We put together a list of ten jobs that are emerging and will shape the future of cleantech.

  • 10. Green brand manager: Companies that are making moves to reduce their carbon emissions want credit for those (maybe painful) efforts. To do that these days, you’ve got to be able to talk the green talk.
  • 9. Biodiesel vegetable oil pickup man: An environmentally friendly way to make biodiesel is using vegetable oil from restaurants to produce commercial amounts of fuel. It’s also a sign of the times that we’re replacing delivery men dropping off energy with pickup men carting it off.

  • 8. Land use planner: Much as West Coast types (like ourselves) hate to admit it, our cities aren’t dense enough to be energy efficient, no matter how much biodiesel we put in our cars. Figuring out how to reconfigure American cities for energy efficiency, while maintaining their positive qualities, is one of the major tasks facing the green world.
  • 7. Eco-Brewmaster: Biofuel-producing algae are a hot investment trend right now, but they need concentrated amounts of CO2 to produce energy. It turns out that breweries are an excellent source of carbon dioxide. Visionary beermakers, New Belgium Brewing Co., are partnering with Solix Biofuels to feed the latter company’s algae in the process of churning out (the beer ever) Fat Tire.
  • 6. LEED accredited builder: Given the complicated and often-frustrating rules surrounding the “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” standards, knowledgeable and accredited builders can command higher rates per square foot of construction.
  • 5. Green building manager: Now that green buildings come equipped with wind, solar, rainwater catchment systems, greywater recycling systems, and a host of other high-tech energy savers, there’s a need for a new breed of building manager, one as comfortable at a computer as on a ladder.
  • 4. Composting toilet installer: You might laugh, but toilets that turn your waste into “humanure” are actually getting some customers, thanks to their cradle-to-cradle efficiency. New models like Sancor’s Envirolet provide most of the amenities of your passé flush toilet.
  • 3. Solar panel installation foreman: The most referenced job that the cleantech revolution is supposed to create is the solar panel installer. Like DirecTV’s (DTV) legions of contractors, they’ll fan out across America, clinging to roofs to bring you a better life. But if there’s one job that’s better than PV installer, it’s PV installers’ boss.
  • 2. Corn farmer: Thanks to ethanol, corn farmers are rolling in green. Corn prices made it all the way past the $4 mark from a measly $1.86 at the end of 2005. Sure, prices are back down, but the USDA thinks ethanol production adds 30 cents to the price of a bushel of corn.
  • 1. Guilt-free venture capitalist: Now that the Internet is boring, and Google (GOOG) makes all the money, it’s time for VCs to move to the next big game. The moneymen have laid their spears to tackle energy, pouring something like $3 billion into cleantech in 2006.