The Green Future of the Labor Market in the US

Published on Oct 5, 2023

Written by Rachel Sederberg & Scott Bittle

green jobs workers wind turbine

The new American Climate Corps is designed to give up to 20,000 young Americans the chance to work on environmental projects and gain green skills. But the impact of green jobs–and the potential talent pool to fill them–is much greater.

When we talk about green skills, what skills do we mean? The Climate Corps website talks about clean energy, energy efficiency, forest management, and rebuilding wetlands, and at least some of those goals line up with the top 10 green skills in demand by employers, according to Lightcast job posting data.

top demanded green skills bar chart

But overall, the mistake policy makers and influencers make is in thinking of green jobs too narrowly. Most people think of training young people in high-demand skills for jobs in the clean energy economy, such as solar installers and wind turbine technicians. But there is a larger group of jobs that demand green skills–good jobs, with skills financially rewarded through salary premia, and predicted to be in high demand. 

Growing Demand and High Pay

In 2022, there were 1,456,096 workers and 410,490 job openings in this broader green economy, ranging from core green jobs, such as Wind Turbine Technicians, to green enabled jobs, such as HVAC technicians trained on green technology, as well as green enabling workers, such as accountants at a solar energy firm. 

green jobs ecosystem pyramid lightcast branded

Green jobs are well paid. Many occupations demand green skills, and when workers do have these skills, they can make higher salaries than the occupation’s average salary. Production Supervisors working in roles that require them to have green economy skills can expect to make over $9,600 more than average for all Production Supervisors. More data can be found in the Green Jobs Now report we collaborated on with Working Nation.

salary boost chart green jobs

This broader definition of green jobs not only expands the occupations we consider green. As we consider where to find the next generation of green economy workers, we can also look to pools of talent with similar skills, meaning that the training needed to upskill these workers is less onerous than other career transitions may be. Some of the most promising occupations that can be sources of green workers of the future include:

Building for Tomorrow, Today

For workers, employers, and policy makers, the green economy is an opportunity to spread economic prosperity via new, well paid, and future ready jobs. The green economy, and therefore the demand for green workers, is poised to grow significantly in the coming years. To meet this growth, opportunities for training through alignment between workers, educators, and employers is a crucial piece of the puzzle. 

Employers looking for green workers can leverage employees they already have, and upskill them into green roles. Many workers are only one or two skills away from being able to join the green economy. By leveraging workers you already know, you are redeploying them into roles of the future, rather than taking the chance of hiring a new and unknown worker. That brings benefits to not only the firm, but to the workforce as well. 

Upskilling these workers is an opportunity for employers to build or strengthen relationships with local educational institutions, deepen community ties, and improve  worker pipelines. Lightcast can help employers identify the talent pools they already have, and the skill gaps that need to be filled, to prepare them for future success. 

can leverage Lightcast data to track growth trends and in-demand skills for this emerging sector of the economy. That insight can be used to create market-aligned programs that attract enrollment and lead to successful career outcomes for graduates. Knowledge of the broader green job ecosystem can also help educators engage working adults with reskilling and upskilling opportunities that equip them to benefit from green job growth.

can look to Lightcast’s recent content on the Green Economy to understand what jobs and skills are most in-demand, and where that demand is projected to be in the coming years. As we all consider our work journey, it is important to gain as much knowledge as possible to make informed decisions that will bring happiness and growth.  

We can help you understand the Green Jobs trends. Let's talk.