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As businesses put more of an emphasis on going green and sustainable, and green construction becomes the norm, colleges and universities are stepping up by preparing students with skills applicable to green career paths. In fact, according to a 2009 report by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, there were over 100 majors and/or focuses in sustainability added to college programs of study, and that number has likely grown since.
Here are some popular college majors that help prepare students for environmentally friendly careers…
Construction Management – The green construction industry has been expanding and offers a multitude of career opportunities for college students. For instance, services like environmental remediation (which deals with the removal of pollution or contaminants from environmental media such as soil, groundwater, sediment, or surface water) are offered from companies like RW Collins in Chicago. Managing a construction project from start to finish can be a lucrative skill, but being able to do so in a “green” way can help students in this field stand out from their peers.
Environmental Science – This green degree has a direct tie with not only environmental concerns, but also corporate responsibility and profits. As such, colleges and universities are working hard to meet this demand. One such school, Cornell University , offers a program of study that teaches students to “solve real-world environmental problems, manage social-ecological systems in a sustainable manner, and affect decisions involving environmental policy, resource management, and biodiversity conservation.”
Sustainability – Consider this: 72 percent of executives in a 2009 McGraw-Hill Construction survey say sustainability efforts help lower their firm’s operating costs. In other words, as Columbia University’s Earth Institute puts it: “It has never been more important to educate a new generation of students who are dedicated to the fundamental links among the natural sciences and the social practices and who understand the values and beliefs that influence decision making.”
Environmental Resource Management – Sometimes referred to as ERM, this major produces graduates who can solve environmental and resource management issues and conduct ecological research working for either government or private organizations. For anyone who’s interested in protecting the environment and conserving natural resources, this major will be the first step in contributing to a greener world.
Environmental Engineering – According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for environmental engineers is favorable through 2020, with an expected growth rate of 22 percent. Environmental engineering majors will learn how to find solutions to environmental problems utilizing scientific and engineering principles.
Renewable Energy – From solar to wind, the renewable energy industry needs skilled workers who understand green technologies, and can help discover and integrate alternative energy solutions.
Beyond these environmental-driven majors, there are many other areas of studies that could easily be given a green focus. For instance, horticulture majors who approach the field in an eco-friendly way can meet the demands of environmentally conscious clients. Marine biology is another example in which it’s vital to understand the effect of pollution on the ecosystem, and how marine life has adapted. Even urban planners and food scientists are well served if they enter the field with an eco-friendly perspective.
All in all, the green industry continues to grow, so taking on a green major in college can be a great way to ensure a long and fruitful career. For more information on green degrees and colleges that put an emphasis on environmental coursework, check out The Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges.
About the author: Dawn Papandrea is a Staten Island, NY-based writer specializing in education, careers, parenting, and personal finance. Her work has appeared in publications including Family Circle, Parents, WomansDay.com, CreditCards.com, and more. She has a master’s degree in journalism and mass communications from New York University. Connect with her on Twitter and Google+.