In our rapidly changing economic climate, over 10 percent of the United States population will look for opportunities to switch careers in 2012. People who were laid off from traditional jobs in recent months will perform many of these job searches. And while many of these new hires will feel lucky to have landed a new job, they will also feel dissatisfied with the transition position if it pays less than their former position, or if they feel underutilized in the new job. Hoping to tap into new and emerging networks, an increasing number of avid job hunters will look at career paths that have been designated "green." While looking at the realistic "Big Picture" that includes some of the obstacles to progress, this article broadly highlights career possibilities in green industries.
The Reality Check
It has been suggested that in the next decade it will be hard to distinguish between a green job and those that are viewed as traditional. Want the truth? When it comes to creating a green environment, interrelated industries are in different stages of implementation. Their challenge is to collaborate to bring green processes to the forefront. But first they must identify what resources are considered "renewable" and where they can be found. With a federally mandated renewable energy standard (RES), a percentage of each state’s energy is supposed to be produced from "renewable" sources. The problem with such a mandate is that geographical locations vary, and some states do not have access to affordable renewable energy sources, meaning the legislation is inequitable.
Going "green" comes with a price. Organizations with big budgets can move more easily into the flow. Small businesses that are struggling to recover from the recession and do not have the deep pockets to pay for implementing new policies and proposals dictated by Congress are apt to feel an additional burden. The capital in these smaller firms takes too big a hit. Fewer jobs are generated, profits and employee benefits are reduced, job layoffs occur in some cases, and higher prices are passed on to consumers. These companies need to hire smart business managers and long-range planners to steer them toward profitability. And the case for phasing in the energy policy over time needs to be made to the government.
Astrological Indicators of Career Change
The trail-blazing spirit of transiting Uranus in Aries offers us a new beginning and the challenge to be pioneers in emerging fields of discovery in 2012. Transiting Neptune is also in a neophyte stage as it enters its natal home, Pisces, in early February, launching a journey that combines deep insight with spiritual integrity. Along with the stamina to work behind the scenes to create new definitions for the evolving changes, Neptune enjoys quiet time and reflection to identify key steps in career transition and to refine destiny. Jupiter in Taurus is a solid bet to work in tandem with Neptune to define the need for secure incomes and investments in new products. Saturn spends the first nine months of the year wrapping up its tour in Libra, the sign that seeks balance in life, in cooperative agreements, in partnerships, and in compromise. Pluto in Capricorn, the planet associated with transformation, could attract you to the interests of large enterprises or government agencies hiring staff for emerging initiatives.
If any of these transiting planets occupies your natal Second House (income and resources), Sixth House (daily work and productivity), Tenth House (career and status), and sometimes the Eighth House (partnership income and assets, income from a new source, or investment in a commodity), you could be among those seeking a new career. If you are aware of new green initiatives and feel the desire to join forces with organizations that set high performance standards, it will be up to you to articulate what type of position you would like in your search for greater career fulfillment. See your astrologer for a chart update to determine the best times for seeking new employment.
How Are Green Jobs Defined?
Green jobs are designed to have either a direct or an indirect positive impact on the environment. You hear about them mostly through the media. Although no universal definition for green jobs exists yet, government leaders at the first Meeting of the Middle Class Task Force headed up by Vice President Joe Biden defined green jobs as those that provide "products and services that use renewable energy resources, reduce pollution, conserve energy and natural resources, and reconstitute waste." It is much easier for individuals engaged in work suggested by this definition to connect the dots and see how their contributions improve the condition of the environment.
Part of your homework as a job seeker is to understand the array of industries that are creating green jobs and how to match them to your skills and interests. Although I have identified certain career fields that relate to specific Sun signs in the sections below, every profession has employees that represent of all signs of the zodiac.
Identifying Jobs within Industries
Organic Farming and Gardening
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program, demand for organic products continues to grow even though only about 1 percent of the world’s farmlands are organically farmed. Organic foods are expensive largely due to transportation costs to get foods to the marketplace. Initiatives are in the works to create farms in urban centers so that food can be grown closer to the consumer base. Tailor-made opportunities go to the Earth signs Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn, as well as Cancer, Libra, Pisces, and others with a natural green thumb. If you enjoy gardening and one of your goals is to reduce the use of nitrogen fertilizers to limit the effect of green house gases and toxic runoff, this field could host the perfect career for you.
Alternative energy jobs are those that derive energy from resources that are readily available on the planet and include: solar photovoltaics, onshore and offshore wind, municipal solid waste-to-energy, geothermal power, and sugar-based ethanol. Tony Soprano isn’t the only one high on waste management. Waste is probably the most abundant renewable resource on the earth. Innovations in recent years have given way to biomass power, which creates electric power from organic material like manure, wood, crops, food, and garden waste in addition to reducing greenhouse gases. Waste-to-Energy (WTE) facilities burn both organic and manufactured waste in innovatively designed boilers that produce electricity to heat buildings.
Since the United States has well over 100 biomass power plants in several states, those of you with a scientific flair (Taurus, Virgo, Scorpio, and Aquarius) may target your search for appropriate positions. Examples include: agriculture specialists, microbiologists, research and development scientists at universities, chemists and biochemists for industry plants, and engineers. Construction workers are critical to designing and building bio-energy plants that also need mechanics, technicians, and equipment operators to run and maintain them. Some firms advocate cross-training in these disciplines. As the alternative energy field continues to grow, organizations will actively seek farmers and foresters to produce and harvest biomass, and waste-management employees will be needed to collect and move the waste materials.
Air Quality Management
Poor air quality impacts everyone, because it is dangerous to breathe. Jobs in this area include those that monitor air quality and hold others compliant. Of interest to individuals with a number of planets in Gemini, Sagittarius, Pisces, and Virgo are positions such as: air quality program manager, air quality consultant, air quality chemist, project manager, engineer, planner or air compliance specialist, as well as environmental air specialist or compliance officer. Remediation experts are needed to solve problems. Other related positions cover the gamut of designing and manufacturing air pollution control technologies. The American Lung Association campaigns to limit ozone emissions that can exacerbate lung disease and even cause premature death. One source of harmful ozone emissions comes from air purifiers that aggravate asthma and other respiratory conditions and can cause shortness of breath and coughing. Check out ALA to see how your medical, scientific, or service skills can serve its escalating needs.
Human Capital Management
Established companies need the full range of HR positions—benefits coordinators, employee development professionals, labor relations specialists, performance experts, planners, recruiters, safety coordinators, and savvy program and project managers to keep the goals in focus and the output high. If this is your area of expertise, look for advertised jobs in green companies or check in with a headhunter to narrow down your search. While the signs Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn, and Aquarius often make their home in this profession, it may also be a match for you if you have two or more planets in the First, Fourth, Seventh, Tenth, or Eleventh House.
Effective use of natural resources in building structures to improve air and water quality and create less waste will create new jobs in the construction field. The net effect is that people who live and work in these buildings are healthier, more productive, and balanced because the architecture, building supplies, materials, energy- efficiency, design, furnishing, and landscaping used in construction are much more sustainable over time. The field has numerous job openings and requires a vast array of specialists in disciplines related to these functions. Among the job titles you’ll find are: architects, senior project or design managers, draftspersons, home performance retrofitters and specialists, construction managers, residential energy auditors, home energy consultants, interior designers, furniture designers, healthcare facilities consultants or designers, manufacturer’s representatives, interiors project managers, landscape architects, grounds managers, landscape estimators, designers, and gardeners, and irrigation technicians. All Sun signs having multiple planets in the Second, Fourth, Sixth, and Seventh Houses please apply.
Publishing Design, Production, and Supply
Finding paper sources from sustainable forests is a critical part of greening the industry. Most publishers seek a variety of sustainable paper products for their green press initiatives because their products have a significant impact on landfills and on natural resources. Even fonts make a difference in how much ink it takes to create a product. The world would come to an abrupt halt without the use of paper and you wouldn’t be reading this article. Smart choices and astute management reduce the industry’s impact on the environment. This industry speaks to those of you with strong Third, Sixth, and Ninth house placements or the Sun sign Gemini, Virgo, or Sagittarius. Many excellent authors and editors come from these signs or have strong planets in these signs. The industry still needs talented writers. Fortunately, every Sun sign has its share of writers. Those of you with Mercury in Air signs, affiliated with fluency and flair with the written word, could be tapped for some plum assignments, so make your presence known. Other writing assignments in high-demand could come from Internet and mainstream firms looking for personnel to develop material for their social networks, apps, blogs, e-zines, how-to publications, and online newsletters. Salary varies, yet many freelance writers make a lucrative living searching the Internet for unique writing assignments. See how your expertise matches consumer demand and get on board with the electronic community.
By now you have probably heard of the "smart grid," which refers to the electricity supply chain that touches all of us in a variety of ways through power generation, transmission, and distribution. The electrical infrastructure is undergoing a major overhaul, and it is going to take a number of enterprises and a lot of money to make the revisions we need to operate efficiently. A variety of service providers will evolve as smart grid transformation unfolds. Cable, telephone, and wireless companies are looking for ways to service the smart grid. They need a number of specialists to analyze demand, sell products, deal with logistics, develop and land contracts, service customers, offer training, and verify compliance. Internet providers and the technology industry are moving gradually into "cloud" computing as one way to improve IT systems and reduce costs. Special studies have been done to look at how the federal government can improve its system for purchasing and using these systems. The transition to the cloud is going to help start-ups and new businesses, especially smaller ones, control costs because they won’t have to go out and buy several expensive servers. Businesses can go to Amazon and rent them on an as-needed basis. Always looking for the leading edge in technology, Microsoft is one of the first firms to come out with plans to make their business case for web-based or "cloud" computing. They and other partner firms looking to make a global difference will need personnel who understand the complex benefits of this emerging technology. Positions to consider include: business consultants, customer service representatives, cyber-security specialists, technical experts, and trainers. Perfect jobs for every techie wizard, especially Aries, Gemini, Leo, Virgo, Scorpio, and Aquarius—so scope it out!
Automobile Sales and Service
Auto makers are shifting to plug-in hybrids, electric, and hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered cars. They need sales personnel who are proficient in the latest technology and able to sell the public on the merits of these cheaper-to-operate vehicles. People with strong Gemini, Leo, Libra, or Sagittarius traits make excellent sales professionals. The long-awaited Chevrolet Volt went on sale in the fall of 2010 with a base price of $41,000, putting that car way out of range for the average consumer. Innovative technology is needed not only to keep costs at bay but also to give other manufacturers the incentive to compete in the market. As far as building and designing these vehicles, Aries people master the mechanical details and Aquarius types excel at the intricacies of computerized components.
Appliances Sales and Service
Home energy efficiency benefits everyone, homeowner or not, because it reduces the overall dependence on foreign sources for oil and natural gas. In the last two years, a survey by the Political Psychology Research Group at Stanford University noted that 80 percent of respondents favored government requirements to make new homes and office buildings more energy efficient. Most consumers have heard of the federal government’s Energy Star for Homes Program that takes a neutral, bipartisan approach to rationalize saving energy. Homes and appliances that meet the strict requirements carry the Energy Star label. Tax incentives to purchase energy-saving replacement appliances, as well as to install them in new construction and in business environments, save consumers a significant amount of money in the long run. Industry hires in addition to sales include factory workers, designers, testers, and installers. Signs that work in this field include Leo, Virgo, Gemini, Cancer, Scorpio, and Aquarius.
Home Building or Improvement
Home builders have the opportunity to make a huge impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, but they don’t necessarily sell that concept when marketing new homes. Why? Home builders believe that a large sector of the public is still skeptical about global warming. Instead, they build homes that use less energy, while making only minor changes in their construction practices. More new job openings are available for people who will plug air leaks and aid homeowners in holding down the costs of heating and cooling homes. Ditto for those engaged in home improvement and maintenance. Cancers, Capricorns, and Libras may find home building, sales, design, and improvement appealing as a transition career.
Charities have long been known to use recycled clothing and household goods to improve the quality of life for those with limited resources. These charities need both salaried workers and volunteers to keep operating. Employers will need bookkeeping, customer service, human resources, inventory managers, receptionists, record-keepers, salespersons for outlet stores, and individuals who solicit donations for goods or cash. Other types of charities need a wide range of personnel to plan events and major fund-raising drives and to support their operations. Jobs in these fields might be ideal for service-oriented signs like Taurus, Virgo, Aquarius, and Pisces.
Education is a means of providing indirect yet positive results and solid contributions to the green economy. The initiative needs individuals who are skilled at motivating and persuading people and organizations to take greener, more sustainable actions. Information about green laws and policies and how they are enforced is critical to making viable progress through public awareness. Readers with First-, Third-, and Ninth-House planets please apply, especially if you are Gemini, Leo, or Sagittarius or have planets in those signs.
Career counselors from the high school level and beyond provide a valuable resource that helps students to identify "green collar" jobs. Headhunting firms need expertise in placing individuals in positions that get the job done. These positions are likely to be technical, nontechnical, and management positions for firms with established green-hiring practices. Due to budget constraints, organizations in emerging industries will take longer to hire for nontechnical positions that are normally comprised of individuals in financial management, human resources, marketing, and operations. Another reason for the delay in hiring nontechnical workers is that they are probably in the research and development phase of their transition and need all the scientists and technical specialists they can find to become competitive. You can count on an interview if you are a Gemini, Libra, Scorpio, or Aquarius or have many natal planets in the Third, Seventh, Eighth, or Eleventh House.
Your Personal Touch in the Green World
Now that you have considerable insight into green careers, you can make a difference in how you use resources by changing your behavior even before you change jobs. Consider conscientious options.
By discovering where your skills are needed in a green organization, you will find the incentive and the money to fulfill your career dreams in the "green frontier."
- When preparing the résumé for your green job, skip the print copy and submit it electronically along with your cover letter.
- Purchase recycled paper, count the pages you print each day, reduce that number, and use double-sided printing.
- If your organization has a recycling program, get some hands-on experience by volunteering to be the in-house czar in charge of properly disposing of employees’ recyclable products from paper to phones to outdated electronic equipment.
- Turn off all electronic equipment at home, or at work, each night.
- Reuse packing material when preparing items for mailing. Allow adequate planning time to use ground shipping and you’ll significantly reduce the carbon footprint and pay much lower prices than shipping by air.
- Sign up for training in green practices to improve marketability and gain a competitive edge among applicants.
From Llewellyn's 2012 Sun Sign Book. For current-year calendars, datebooks, and almanacs, click here.