The following story was provided by AOLJobs.com
By Debra Auerbach for CareerBuilder
Have you ever had an itch to quit your job and instead do work that makes a real difference in the world? In honor of Earth Day on April 22, we've compiled a list of seven jobs that help people live a better life – from the buildings they work and live in, to the energy that fuels their homes, to the air they breathe.
1. Conservation scientist: Conservation scientists are hired to help preserve and protect natural habitats. They usually work with landowners and federal, state and local governments to find the best ways to use and improve the land while conserving the environment.*
- How to become one: Conservation scientists typically need a bachelor's degree in forestry or a related field. It helps job prospects to have a degree from programs that are accredited by the Society of American Foresters and other similar organizations.
- Pay: According to Economic Modeling Specialists International, conservation scientists earn a median hourly income of $28.28.
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2. Energy auditor: When a building is cooled or heated, it uses energy. Buildings often leak energy, so they produce extra heat or air to compensate, which wastes more energy. Energy auditors help curb energy waste by inspecting buildings to find areas of air leakage and advising customers on how to fix and prevent leaks.
- How to become one: There are no nationwide education or training requirements for energy auditors, but some states require auditors to take courses or earn a certification. Certification is available through organizations such as the Building Performance Institute, the Residential Energy Services Network and the Association of Energy Engineers. Some local technical and community colleges also offer energy auditing courses.
- Pay: Since it's such a new field, national wage information is currently unavailable.
3. Green construction manager: Construction is another area that has seen an emergence of green jobs. As interest for environmental protection increases, the demand for green buildings grows with it. Construction managers that specialize in green buildings plan, direct, coordinate and budget construction projects, ensuring that onsite processes are environmentally friendly. This could mean setting up a recycling plan for unused construction materials or protecting environmentally sensitive areas of the site. They're also responsible for choosing contractors who have knowledge of green building techniques.
- How to become one: Most construction managers come to the job with experience working on other similar projects. Most also hold a bachelor's degree or higher in construction management, business management or engineering. They may also acquire a LEED Green Associate credential or have taken the NCCER's Sustainable Construction Supervisor Training and Certification Program.
- Pay: Median annual pay for construction managers is $85,030.
4. Landscape architect: According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, these workers analyze, plan, design, manage and nurture natural and built environments. Projects they may work on include: academic campuses, conservation, corporate and commercial areas, gardens and arboreta, green infrastructure, interior landscapes and land planning. Landscape architects who work on green building sites apply their expertise to plan attractive scenery while also conserving water, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They may also plan drainage channels to diffuse rainwater throughout planting beds.
- How to become one: Landscape architects are required to have licenses. Requirements vary among states but usually include a degree in landscape architecture from an accredited school, work experience and a passing score on the Landscape Architect Registration Exam.
- Pay: According to the ASLA, average annual salary and bonuses for landscape architects is $78,600.
5. Recycling truck driver: There are many roles that help ensure that the U.S. recycling system works and is successful. One such job is that of the drivers, also known as recyclable material collectors. These workers are employed by recycling companies or local governments to pick up recyclables from residences and offices and transport them to a materials recovery facility. Several drivers usually work together as a team to collect recyclables.
- How to become one: Drivers should have at least a high school education or a G.E.D. To be certified to handle these trucks, drivers must have a Class A or B Commercial Driver's License with airbrake endorsement. Drivers need to pass drug screening and background checks and should have clean driving records.
- Pay: The median annual pay for refuse and recyclable material collectors is $29,610.
6. Solar power plant operator: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, every hour, enough energy from the sun reaches Earth to meet the world's energy usage for an entire year. Creating solar power by converting sunlight into electricity lowers emissions from electricity generation and helps decrease long-term energy costs. Because of these benefits, solar power has continued to grow as an industry. Solar power plants are run by operators, who oversee power generation and distribution from control rooms. They monitor the solar arrays and generators and regulate output from the generators, and they monitor instruments to maintain voltage to regulate electricity flows from the plant.
- How to become one: Strong mechanical, technical and computer skills are needed to operate a power plant. Certification by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation is necessary for positions that could affect the power grid.
- Pay: The median annual pay for power plant operators is $64,270.
7. Wind turbine service technician: Wind power is a relatively new source of electricity generation and has been used on a utility scale for only a few decades. Wind turbines -- the machines that generate wind power -- are extremely complex, and if any part fails, they have to be shut down until repairs can be performed, losing time and money. Wind turbine service technicians help prevent and solve issues by inspecting turbines and providing regular maintenance. They're capable of diagnosing and fixing any problem that could require the turbine to be shut down.
- How to become one: Since the field is still so new, there isn't formal training to become a wind tech. Instead, most come from technician jobs in other industries. Experience or training as an electrician also is beneficial.
- Pay: The BLS notes that while no national wage information is currently available, industry sources say starting wages are between $35,000 and $40,000.
*Job descriptions, experience/education and pay taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unless otherwise noted.