What is a Green Job?

May. 18, 2011 | 0 Comments | Economics | 9-12 | Civic Education

Lesson Steps

Warm-up: Introduction to Green Jobs
1. Pass out green job titles and green job descriptions so each student has one card. Have each
student find the partner with the corresponding match.
2. Once students have found their match, ask each pair to introduce their job and share their
3. After hearing each of these jobs, tell students that these are all examples of green jobs. Ask
students if they have heard of green jobs. What are they? Where have they heard of them?

Activity One: Discussion - What Qualifies as a Green Job?
1. In this activity, you will challenge students’ general ideas of what a green job is. Your
students would hopefully agree that someone in the sustainable building sector has a job
that’s considered “green,” but would they be quick to agree that teachers can be included in
the green job sector? What about health care providers, waste management workers, car
manufacturers, scientists, farmers, politicians, non-profit organization worker, etc.? Discuss
the following with your students.
a) What did all of the jobs on the cards have in common?
b) Encourage a class brainstorm. On the board, write down words and ideas associated
with “green jobs.”
c) Looking at this list, have students come up with language to use to define “green
job.” As a whole class, use the specific language they brainstormed to create an
official class definition of a green job.
d) What qualifies as a green job? Refer to the green job cards and list the job titles on
the board. Are there any jobs they do or do not think fit the definition of a green
job? Why or why not?
e) Now challenge students to name careers that are not listed. Encourage them to think
outside of the box and see if they can expand this list.
f) Ask your students what they want to do for a career or profession. Could any of
these careers be considered green? Why or why not?
g) Encourage debate and discussion. Be sure to challenge students’ traditional ideas of
what a green job is.
h) Another important discussion point is that a plethora of occupations can be “green.”
In addition to vocational education and job skills training, it is important that the
ethic and understanding of sustainability and positive environmental impact is
imparted. This is why environmental awareness and education are important in all
sectors and throughout all grade levels. Discuss this with your class.
i. Environmental Education is becoming increasingly important. Why might
this be? (Because in today’s economy, learning about the environment will better prepare
young people to enter the green jobs sector, thus strengthening our economy and keeping
America competitive. Also, those who have knowledge on various environmental topics will
be better equipped to curb environmental degradation, and may have a greater interest in
and feeling of responsibility for protecting our natural surroundings).
ii. What are some ways students can be exposed to environmental education
from an early age? (In-class environmental lessons across subject levels, hands-on outdoor
lessons, field trips to national parks and science museums, articles about the environment in
school newspapers, partnerships with green organizations, etc).
iii. Ask your students what kind of environmental activities they have done in
the past. Have these affected their outlook on the future or the economy?
Are there any activities they especially recommend for students as future
i) Have students consider if any of the listed green jobs might appeal to them. What do
they think the “coolest,” most interesting, or most important green job is?

Activity Two: Green Job Research
1. Choosing a job off the class list, or coming up with another on their own, have students
research and write a short paper on a green job that interests them. They should focus on
explaining why the job they chose is considered green and should incorporate the definition
created in class. Does this job fit the definition? Why or why not?
a) Other points for student to consider: Why does this job interest you? How does it
help the environment? What sector does it fall into? Why is it important for the
economy? How might this career be even more important in the future?
2. Depending on the timeframe of this lesson, have students begin research in class and/or
complete their research and papers as homework.

Activity Three: Presentation
1. Before turning in their Green Job Research Papers, students will give a short (three to five
minute) presentation on the job they researched. They should explain: why it is a green job,
why it interests them, why it will be important in the future, etc.

Wrap-Up: Discussion – Defining Green Jobs
1. As a whole class, return to the definition of a green job. Discuss the following:
a) Have your students’ initial ideas of what a green job is changed during the lesson?
Why or why not?
b) Based on discussion and research, are there any changes that should be made to the
definition? Does the current definition exclude any relevant information or include
any unnecessary information?
c) If necessary, see if your class can edit their original definition.

Extension: Green Job Career Pathways
1. Now that students are more familiar with the variety of green jobs available and their importance
in the economy and the future, students should be thinking about their own career paths and
how they fit into the category of green jobs.
a) Have students think about how they could get a green job or choose a green career.
Do they have new career goals after this lesson? Can they reframe their existing
career goals to be more “green”?
b) Have students research their career paths and goals. What skills are needed? What
kind of education, degree, or training is required? What schools offer these majors?
Are there apprenticeships available? What kind of demand is there for this position?
Is it regionally dependent? What is the usual pay grade? Etc.
c) Have students begin thinking about the most logical steps to take for their career of
choice and create a map of this pathway. Use Reproducible One - Green Job
Career Pathway as framework.
d) To take this even further, you may want to encourage students to find someone in
this career and set up an informational interview or bring a few varied experts in to
speak with the class. How did this person end up in this career? Would they do
anything differently? Do they have any tips or advice for the students?

At the conclusion of this lesson, students will have a strong grasp of what a green job is—they will
be able to define the term green job, know what qualifies as a green job, understand why green jobs
are a growing sector, and know why they are important in today’s economy. They will also have
considered how a green job could apply to themselves and their own career goals.