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Career Path: Energy and Environment

Going green started off seeming like another short-lived fad. Reusable grocery bags were seen as fashionable, and hybrid cars acted more as status symbols rather than a genuine effort to curb carbon emissions. However, when the facts of human impact on the planet became clear, being environmentally responsible proved to be more than a passing trend. Out of the 1.983 billion acres of total land area in the U.S., 107.3 million acres have been developed, and that number increases every year as the population swells and cities sprawl out into previously unmarred land, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Greenhouse gas emissions increased 17 percent since then, and that number is expected to continue rising by 1 percent every year unless major changes in personal and global habits take place.

The environmental sector will boom as more people become concerned about the environment. People will begin looking for ways to decrease their impact on the earth. Human impact includes the destruction of wildlife habitats from deforestation through logging, draining marshes to make room for laying foundation, burning fossil fuels that emit high volumes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and creating tons of waste that are either buried in landfills or inappropriately disposed of through littering. Left unchecked, natural resources will quickly diminish, leaving formerly fertile fields arid and wildlife populations diminshed.

Environmental jobs such as urban planning and renewable energy technology will increase to compensate for years of inaction. Urban planners will design more environmentally friendly cities that destroy fewer habitats and waste less energy. Renewable energy is another growing industry, with several niches that prospective green workers can enter, including wind, water and solar energy. Renewable resource engineers will pioneer new ways for the U.S. to power itself, which will have the added benefit of reducing the country's dependence on foreign fuels. Likewise, becoming more environmentally conscious will also help businesses and individuals cut costs as most eco-friendly technology and practices emphasize money-saving ideas like reusability.