Want a green career, but don’t know where to start? You’re not the only one. Before I landed a job at WWF, I was stuck in a job that did not make me happy. I wasn’t just after a paycheck at the end of the month, I wanted to make an impact, do something meaningful. But with so many opportunities out there, focusing on one path seemed impossible. While several well-meaning friends and relatives urged me to ‘follow my passion’, others told me pretty much the exact opposite; to not get bogged down in finding the ‘perfect’ job. So how could I know what would make me happy – and help me pay the rent at the end of the month? Would I have to go back to university to complete another degree, or look into volunteering to gain some experience and try a few different things?
I chose the latter and did this while continuing with my job for the time being. In the end, this worked out well for me. But everyone’s career path is different, just like everyone’s schedule and priorities are different. You don’t necessarily have to follow a predetermined route to reach your goal. In this case, you don’t have to become a scientist or a conservation biologist to make a difference. While the ‘green’ job space is generally very competitive, there are a lot of different careers out there. The ones I’ve listed below are all jobs I’d love to have a go at!
- Green Entrepreneur
Green businesses are sprouting up everywhere. If you are the entrepreneurial type and don’t mind working hard, this is potentially a win-win for both you and the planet. But do your research before risking all your money! This route often involves a significant amount of risk and many start-ups fail. Ethical fashion, for example, is a field that is already highly competitive and this makes it even more important to think about what makes your product or service stand out (and why the world needs it!). If you’re not into starting a label yourself, you could always offer your skills to an existing start-up.
- Organic farmer
While organic produce is more widely available than ever, it is still making up a modest share of total food and drink sales in the UK. Therefore, as an agricultural farmer, you can still be a forerunner in organic farming. This involves much more than to choose not to use pesticides and fertilizers (think soil quality, crop rotation, natural biocontrol, etc.), and is a more important job than ever with more mouths to feed globally than we can currently manage. With many people living in densely populated areas, urban farming is an interesting concept to look into.
Your image of the typical forester might be somewhat hippie; a guy with a beard and a green hat. But while this might have been accurate until fairly recently, the profession is evolving and is now more about conservation and education than ever. There are numerous forester Instagram ‘celebrities’ that prove this is no (longer a) job for a hermit!
A great option for someone without an environmental/conservation background, as experience in fields such as marketing and account management is often highly valued. It also helps when you’re passionate about the cause you’re representing. Plus, ask yourself whether you think the charity you’re considering can truly make a difference. Even if the cause is something you care about, if the programme you’re working for is not effective, this might get frustrating and will make it more difficult to inspire people to make a donation.
- Environmental journalist
Be a true advocate for the planet, and inform, inspire and educate the public on matters related to wildlife, the environment, and climate change. An understanding of scientific language and environmental knowledge are important to be able to translate complex issues into clear and concise articles.
- Nature photographer
This is without a doubt one of the more difficult fields to get into. While it’s great that everyone can make decent photos with their phones these days and that so many people capture nature shots, it makes it difficult to become one of the lucky few that get to call it their profession. On the upside, it is easy to start out: nature is all around you, even if you live in the city!
If you’re not willing to give up the comforts of a career with a big corporate, this might be your dream job! While some might not perceive this as a hardcore green job, sometimes it is easier to change things from within. And when you do manage to shake things up, you might be able to have a great impact.