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Green Careers

Explore green careers in Minnesota.

Find out why green careers are important and learn how green careers in Minnesota are unique.

In this section you'll be able to find resources to help you explore the different types of green careers available in Minnesota, learn about the education they require and how much they pay. You can also watch green career videos, explore green career paths, and learn about green industries.

Why is Green Important?

Green jobs are important because they benefit the environment.

Lots of people and places are "going green." People are concerned about recycling, reducing pollution, and supporting renewable energy. Buildings and businesses are advertising their green practices and products. The question is: why?

Threats to Our Environment

Every day we use fossil fuels to power our homes, workplaces, and vehicles. These resources are limited and release hazardous chemicals into our air, soil, and water. Plus, pollution impacts plants and animals. Habitats and certain species of animals are disappearing at alarming rates. Scientists worry that we are passing the point where our ecosystem is able to safely recover without being permanently damaged.

Besides providing us with valuable goods, the ecosystem also provides important benefits to the world. Wetlands offer protection from storms and help purify water. Forests capture carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. But when a wetland gets destroyed, it affects the mainland beyond it. And when a forest gets cut down, there are fewer trees to capture carbon dioxide.

How Working Green Can Help

There is good news: change is happening. That's why environmental conservation, recycling and pollution reduction, green manufacturing, renewable energy, and building-related energy efficiency are so important. This work and these green jobs make us part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

Explore green careers to learn how you can help turn things around and get paid to do it.

Green in Minnesota

Because Minnesota is unique, its green economy is also unique.

Farmland and Corn

Minnesota has 27 million acres of farmland, over one-third of which are used to grow corn. In fact, Minnesota produces over nine percent of all the corn grown in the United States. While corn is most commonly used for human and animal food, it can also be used as a raw material for biobased products such as ethanol and plastic. Twenty-two ethanol plants in rural Minnesota produced 1,119 million gallons of ethanol in 2010, right near the source of the raw material. This industry provides jobs in production, transportation, and management.

Have you come across compostable plastic yet? Much of it is made of corn and, in the future, may be produced here in Minnesota. Minnesota already has a vibrant plastics industry cluster and now a few new companies are working to perfect corn-based plastics. These plastics would have strength and durability, and be able to withstand extreme temperature changes, allowing them to effectively compete with petroleum-based plastics. Some will likely be made from corn cobs instead of kernels. This is more sustainable, since it doesn't require taking large quantities of corn out of the food chain. One key reason these startups are located in Minnesota is the proximity to the necessary raw material — corn.

Natural Resources

Wind

Wind is another resource that has helped shape our green jobs sector. Minnesota is the 11th windiest state in the country, and now ranks fourth nationally in installed wind power generation capacity. Because of this natural resource, the state has added many jobs in wind power. 

Minnesota's abundant farmland provides the physical space for wind turbines, which generate electricity to power homes and businesses. Wind turbines are most often located on farms for several reasons.

  • Turbines don't interfere with farming, but they can be noisy when the wind is blowing. This can be undesirable in urban areas.
  • The wide open farmland allows the wind to blow unobstructed.
  • Farmers can earn extra money by leasing out land for the turbines or building their own.

There are many wind turbine technicians in Minnesota, but the wind industry generates plenty of other jobs in the engineering, production, construction, and utilities sectors.

Water, Prairie, and Forest

With well over 10,000 lakes, almost everyone who lives in Minnesota has a connection to at least one of them. This might be one reason we, as a state, devote resources to protecting them and our rivers and streams, forest and prairie, and the wildlife that inhabit them. The resources that we are willing to devote create jobs in the administration of conservation programs. These jobs range from management to landscaping and maintenance to park rangers and other parks and recreation staff to scientific and research positions.

Extreme Temperatures

Minnesota's exceptionally cold winters have led to economic development in energy-saving construction supplies. Did you know that Minnesota has a world-renowned window and door industry? And if you think windows and doors are boring, think again. Important new technologies like electrochromic windows that let in more or less light depending on environmental conditions are being developed right here in Minnesota. This cluster provides jobs primarily in production as well as engineering and marketing.

Temperature extremes have also helped establish Minnesota as home to an HVAC and automatic environmental controls industry cluster. Companies in this cluster work to make the heating and cooling systems in large commercial and public buildings as well as homes as efficient as possible. This cluster provides jobs in architecture and engineering, HVAC installation and repair, and production.

Explore Green Careers and Industries

Explore Green Careers

Explore careers in environmental conservation, recycling & pollution reduction, green manufacturing, renewable energy generation, and building-related energy efficiency. Find wage and employment demand information for careers.  Learn what the type of education you need to get started.

Watch Green Career Videos

Watch these videos to learn more about a variety of green careers. 

Green Career Paths

Find diagrams to help you discover the types of jobs that exist in a variety of green industries including natural resource conservation, solar electric, and commercial energy-efficiency.  Each diagram includes information about possible career advancement.  

Green Industries

You can find green jobs in many different industries, but some are more likely to have them than others.

  • Utilities Industry
    The utilities industry has many green jobs because it focuses on properly treating and disposing of waste, supplying energy, and supplying clean water to Minnesota homes and businesses.
  • Construction Industry
    Green jobs in the construction industry help Minnesota homes and businesses use energy and water more efficiently.