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What is a Green Construction and Building Career?

If you’re concerned about the environment and/or are interested in the fascinating and growing world of sustainable construction, then green construction careers might be a good option for you. The combination of construction and using eco-friendly methods to build homes, offices, and factories is a great way to improve and sustain the word’s environment. If being part of this new and growing industry interests you, we’ve created a guide for you below. It can help you plan your education and career goals.

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Steps to Take to Achieve This Career

With concern regarding our environment increasing daily, there is a push to create more environmentally sustainable products to slow or even help reverse some of the damage already done and reduce the possibility of future damage. We’ve all heard about the benefits of recycling, repurposing, and other means to be more environmentally friendly, but this also extends to the more “permanent” seeming products we use, including our buildings and homes. The industry of producing more environmentally buildings is called green construction and those in the industry are specially trained in techniques and methods of designing and building structures with environmental concerns in mind. There are many careers in the green construction industry, most of which are normal construction jobs which may only require additional training, but some have been born directly as a result of new industries created to offer other ways of doing things, especially generating energy.

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Becoming a green builder might sound like a challenge, and for some it might be. For those just entering the construction and green building trade, learning about green initiatives as a part of the construction process might be easier than a seasoned construction professional having to relearn old methods. But if a person is serious about becoming a green builder or contractor, learning the skills should not be an issue. It does require taking classes and gaining specialized training, but fortunately, finding schools that offer the required courses for a builder to become green builder certified is easier than ever before.

These are the most common steps those who want to work in green construction can take to be educated and prepared to work in the green construction industry:

  • Step 1: Getting an Undergraduate Degree

  • Step 2: Internships/Entry-level Job

  • Step 3: Higher Level Degree or Certificate

  • Step 4: Certification in Green Building

Step 1: Getting an Undergraduate Degree

The ultimate goal of green education is to achieve some sort of certification in green building initiatives from one of the approved green construction agencies. The first step to doing this is to get an undergraduate degree in building and construction that either focuses or specializes in green building. However, if you already have a degree and you’re just looking to move into providing green initiative work from within your existing expertise, take a look at step 3-4.

A degree program, which could be an associates or bachelor’s degree, should including the following courses or focus:

  • should include courses in sustainable building methods and techniques
  • pay particular attention on how to reduce a building’s environmental footprint and improve an existing building’s environmental efficiency
  • should provide an understanding of energy-efficient materials and technology Possible majors include construction engineering, construction management, building science and sustainable design

Step 2: Internships/Entry-level Job

An internship while working toward a degree is a good idea because hands-on training is an important part of learning about designing and building green buildings and structures. As a green building intern for a construction company, you’ll learn about the different structures that can be designed with environmental ideals in mind including commercial, residential, and industrial structures. It is worth noting that the most common structures that utilize green initiatives are commercial buildings such as office buildings, hospitals, and other retail or business structures. An internship is also one of the best ways to land an entry-level job upon graduation since the business has an idea of the graduate’s abilities and work style and they will have already put time and effort into training you to their standards.

Step 3: Higher Level Degree or Certificate

If you only completed an associate degree in the last step, then this would be a good time to pursue a bachelor’s degree (or even a graduate degree if you are looking to run your own business or move into management). Although you can enter the field with a two-year degree, to advance into other areas including management or owning your own business is going to require at least a bachelor’s degree, a graduate degree or certificate might also be required depending on the area of expertise or what a business desires of its employees.

A graduate degree takes one to three years to complete and focuses on areas including:

  • Architecture, construction, and planning
  • Sustainable principles and technology system designs
  • Building performance
  • A research-based project may be required for graduation

If you would prefer to forego the graduate degree and focus on one specific area instead, a certificate is also an option. Most certificates take one to two years to complete and the hours accumulated to get the certificate can sometimes be applied toward a graduate degree later. One of the most popular certifications for those working in the green construction trade is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. This is the system that is frequently used to determine how green a structure actually is.

Step 4: Certification in Green Building

One of the most popular agencies for certification in Green Building is the Sierra Green Building Association. They offer a variety of certification for those working in the construction trades.

They offer the Certified Practitioners Exam which certifies workers in the following areas:

  • Green building and sustainability
  • Land and site use
  • Energy
  • Indoor environmental quality
  • Proper environmental treatment of material, waste, and water

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What Can You Do in Green Construction?

Just like in the traditional construction trades, those working in green construction can take on a variety of roles. If you prefer to be in the trenches swinging a hammer and helping with the actual construction of the building, you can become a skilled trades worker in the area of your choosing. Or maybe you want to design the buildings from the comfort of an office; in that case, a job as an architect or green building designer might suit you. You could also become a site supervisor, code inspector, or take on any other position that suits you in the industry. The options are only as limited as your desire to get the education, certifications, and experience you need to do the job you want.

Needed Skills to Acquire

If you follow the steps above then you should gain the following skills, all of which are needed to successfully work in green construction:

  • Green building and design
  • Green building sustainability
  • The knowledge of how to reduce an existing building’s environmental footprint
  • How to incorporate green products into an existing green building and how to convert existing buildings into more environmentally friendly versions
  • Proper land and site use
  • Proper disposal of green materials and waste
  • Energy options
  • How to improve the quality of the indoor environment
  • The proper and safe use of green building materials and equipment
  • Attention to detail
  • Computer skills
  • Math skills
  • Communication skills
  • The ability to multi-task
  • The ability to recognize where and how more environmentally friendly materials, techniques, and methods can and should be used.

Alternative Education and Career Paths

For those who are just starting their education, the steps above will provide a clear path into the green construction and green building industry. But, for those who are already working in the construction trades but want to break into the green construction trade, adding green construction classes and certifications is the ideal approach. If you haven’t attained a degree, doing so could be a requirement, though depending on a person’s years of experience working in the construction industry, taking the green construction classes and earning the certifications may be sufficient.

Green Construction Career Options and Earning Potential

Where Might You Work?


Green construction jobs can be found in practically every industry imaginable. From government buildings that are being retrofitted to be eco-friendly, to the design and construction of new structures that are green from the start. Even hospitals, schools, and office buildings are using more environmentally friendly techniques, methods, and materials and many construction companies are changing in order to take on these projects. To do this, they need employees who are trained in green initiatives and practices. So, the question isn’t so much where you might work, but where you want to work. Because, in all likelihood, there will be positions in the industry needing workers in whatever specialization you choose.

Potential Career Paths

There are a variety of green construction jobs in the industry and the career path has many possible directions. Whether you want to work in green building construction, energy generation, or some other area of the green industry, there are positions available. Below are five of the most in-demand green construction jobs.

  • Wind Turbine Service Tech

    These techs work on wind turbines. Some of the duties and responsibilities include:

    • Work on turbines, controls, and ancillary support equipment
    • Be able to climb towers and platforms of at least 85 feet
    • Install, diagnose, and repair turbines and components
    • Review related manuals, blueprints, and schematics diagrams to maintain a highly automated system.

    Other job titles include: Wind Energy Mechanic, Wind Turbine Mechanic, Wind Turbine Technician

  • Solar Photovoltaic Installer

    These installers are growing in demand. If you are into solar energy, it’s definitely worth a look.

    What they do:

    • Assemble, install, and/or maintain Solar PV systems on roofs or other structures in compliance with site assessments and schematics
    • Assess the environment and eliminate any hazards associated with installation
    • Seal systems to prevent water and dampness issues
    • Electrical work and testing

    Other titles include: Solar Technician, PV Testing Technician, Solar Energy Technician, Solar Field Service Tech

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  • Environmental Engineer

    If you want to travel around the world, figure out the main environmental issues, and then help craft solutions, then this might be the job for you.

    What the job entails:

    • Improve recycling, waste disposal, public health, and air and water pollution control
    • Address global issues such as unsafe drinking water, climate change, and environmental sustainability

    Job titles: Air Pollution Control Engineer, Pollution Control Engineer, Soil Engineer

  • Construction and Building Inspector

    Once the buildings are built, or are in the process of being built, someone has to inspect the work. That’s where green building inspectors come in. They ensure not only that all green initiatives are carried out, but also that the building is safe for occupation.

    Job duties include:

    • Ensuring construction meets local and national green building codes and ordinances, zoning regulations, and contract specifications
    • Performs initial check during the first phase of construction
    • Follow up inspections throughout the construction process
    • Performs the final comprehensive inspection

    Other titles: Architectural Inspector, bridge Inspector, building Code Inspector, residential building inspector

  • Building Custodian

    Some might not think a custodian belongs on this list. Considering the knowledge that goes into the proper procedures required to keep a building clean and safe is hard enough, having to also incorporate green initiatives into the mix makes things that much more difficult. In other words, there is more to being a custodian than using a mop.

    Some of the job duties include:

    • Making sure buildings are neat, clean, and safe
    • Overseeing building security, window cleaning, and minor building maintenance and repairs
    • Implementing green cleaning programs
    • Ensuring cleaning products are safe and environmentally friendly
    • Ensuring cleaning products and waste is disposed of properly

    Other titles include: Cleaning and Maintenance Manager, Custodial Worker, Janitor

Career Outlook

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, green construction jobs are expected to increase between 2018 and 2028. The Bureau puts out a list of industries that are growing faster than other industries and two professions in green construction - Solar Photovoltaic Installer and Wind Turbine Service Technicians - are the top two in the industry, with projected growth of 63% and 57% respectively. Environmental engineers are also going to be in demand for the next decade. The average salary of workers in the green construction field is $47,630 and, geographically speaking, there are jobs throughout the United States and beyond.

Advancing From Here

Choosing which direction to go within the green construction industry depends on your interests and abilities. Once you have decided where your focus lies, attaining the proper education and certifications is important. Once you hold certain certifications, you can switch from one career focus to another within the industry. Top-level positions are supervisory and managerial regardless of the particular field, so if that’s your ultimate goal, attaining a terminal degree in green construction or management specifically is a common career path.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a green construction and building career?

Green construction involves using eco- friendly methods and sustainable products to build offices, factories, businesses, and homes in a way that reduces the impact on the environment.

How much can you make working in green construction?

According to Payscale, in 2021 green construction professionals make around $69,000 a year on average.

What is the job outlook for a green construction professional?

The job outlook for green construction professionals is positive. As technology is changing, the demand for green construction increases. Between 2016–2019 the energy efficiency industry grew 7 times faster than the national workforce average.

What is the green building council?

The green building council is responsible for transforming buildings into sustainable ones. The green building council is a non-profit organization that is globally recognized.

What will you learn in the green building construction skills job training program?

As a green construction professional, you will learn skills in math, electricity, construction, rough carpentry, and plumbing.

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