Given the attention and financial incentives green industries have received over the past several years, it should come as no surprise that the rate of job growth in this sector has outpaced other industries. At 44.6% it is, however, surprising that the Metro DC area has more green jobs per capita than the rest of the United States.
Yet for candidates, digging through the 100 or so green industry job boards to find relevant employment opportunities can prove quite frustrating. Some list only a handful of positions. Few post more than 100-200 openings. That’s the problem Bernard Ferret, Founder of TheGreenJobBank, set out to solve. A lifelong advocate of environmental responsibility, Ferret developed a search engine for green jobs. Currently approximately 3,000 employers have 10,000 openings listed as open across the U.S.
TheGreenJobBank quickly became the #1 place to look for green jobs after its launch in 2009. (Last year MSNMoney listed Ferret’s company as one of the top 10 “major job-search websites.”) Because TheGreenJobBank is a search engine, it consolidates listings by indexing Websites, career pages, and job boards. Listings include job titles, location, date posted, a short description, and a link to the original post. Advertising and sponsorships support TheGreenJobBank, so use of the service is free to employers and job seekers alike.
So what, exactly is a green job? Ferret describes two distinct categories as follows:
- Every position in a company that derives a majority of revenue from activities that directly help preserve our environment and natural resources
- Green jobs (like Sustainability Manager) in a non-green company
According to the Brookings Institution, median wages for people working green jobs run 13% higher than median domestic wages. Clearly, innovation and other technological advancements and growth of relatively young industries require an educational component for some of these jobs. Ferret has that covered too. TheGreenJobBank has a database of approximately 100 training programs for people who want to enter or advance in green industries. Resources cover the entire education spectrum—from high school—to specialized certifications—to Master’s degrees.
In total, TheGreenJobBank listed in excess of 100,000 jobs in 2012. Ferret analyzed the numbers to reveal that solar employers led other green industries in job growth. The employer who posted the most green jobs last year? Tesla Motors.
Ferret is a serial entrepreneur. Besides leading TheGreenJobBank, he is also a Senior Business Advisor for the Mason Small Business Development Center, which is a joint program hosted by the Mason Enterprise Center and the Small Business Administration (SBA). If you’re an entrepreneur looking for advice from people who have been in the trenches successfully building their own companies, the Mason Enterprise Center offers terrific resources.
When asked about the most common challenge faced by the new entrepreneurs that he mentors, Ferret replied, “They all fall into the same trap with a ‘build it and they will come’ mentality. Every founder needs to know how they’re going to get customers. How much will it cost to get that customer? And what is the dollar value of that customer over time? My advice: Talk to 100 of your prospective customers… not about what you want to do, but about their specific challenges. Disruptive innovation is the only time this approach will not work.”