Trade Schools & Vocational Training for In-Demand Green Jobs

Many people assume that a college degree is necessary in order to have a successful career, but trade and vocational schools can be equally wise paths. This is especially true in a post-pandemic job market with an administration with big plans for green jobs and a clean energy transition underway. For those who want to direct their energy into combating climate change, a trade school can be the fastest way to set a climate career in motion. 

Demand for Skilled Trades Workers for Green Jobs is High

In past generations, trade school and vocational training were a common path to a good-paying job. While tradespeople are still in high demand, an emphasis on college in the modern education system has left many young adults in the dark about such opportunities. This has resulted in a shortage of electricians, carpenters, plumbers, and other skilled trades. While not necessarily green jobs, the skills used in these trades often carry over to their sustainable counterparts such as solar electricians and green infrastructure construction jobs. 

The clean energy transition has amplified the demand for tradesmen and women even further. A prime example of this is wind turbine technicians. At a projected outlook of 61% growth by 2029, it’s the fastest-growing job role in the nation. Wind turbine technicians need a certificate or two-year degree, but apprenticeship programs can have workers in the field with only a high school diploma or GED.

Trade School or College?

Some people feel called to pursue a college education, while others do not. Trade and vocational schools allow students to learn skills that prepare them for jobs at a faster rate than college and at a fraction of the cost. 

College degrees can take two or more years to complete, while certificates can be completed in weeks or months, and trade apprenticeships allow workers to earn while they learn.

The average debt for a bachelor’s degree exceeds $25,000, while the total cost of wind turbine technician certificate programs is less than half that. 

Even after investing years and accruing thousands of dollars in debt, there is a chance of not having job security after college. Underemployment—employment where workers are in jobs they are overqualified for—is a possibility for college graduates. Across various majors, 29-80% of grads are underemployed in their first jobs. 

If spending several years in college that ends with debt and a less than lackluster career outlook isn’t for you, a trade or vocational training program might be for you.

Fast Growing Trades in the Green Economy

We’ve already mentioned that wind turbine technicians will see the greatest demand increase of any job in the US. Other trades in green sectors that are expected to see higher than average growth include:

This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, and these are only a few examples based on currently available statistics. With the green economy rapidly growing, the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics is still accruing data related to green jobs. 

It’s also worth exploring other jobs that may not be as in demand but may match your skills and interests. For example, if you’re interested in engineering but want a job that allows you to enter the job market quickly and be creative, you can pursue a computer-aided design and drafting training program to learn to create blueprints and 3D models and become a drafter.

Trade Schools & Vocational Training for Green Collar Jobs 

Considering a trade school or vocational training to prepare for a career that helps the environment? Get started by exploring these training programs. 

Nexus PMG does not endorse and is not associated with any of these programs.

Everblue Training

Online solar training programs

US Solar Institute

Online solar training and hands-on solar training in Florida

Louisiana CleanTech Network

Entry-level solar electric training in New Orleans

Northwest Renewable Energy Institute

Wind turbine technician training 


Wind energy education and training programs throughout the US

Portland Community College

Computer-aided design and drafting certificate program

Hunterdon County Environmental Sustainability & Engineering Academy

Renewable and sustainable energy and environmental engineering program for high school students

Cleantech Institute 

Electric vehicle technician training program

Building A Green Future

A sustainable future will require all hands on deck, and that includes an ample amount of trades workers. Clean energy, government policy, and a society interested in sustainable solutions for housing and transportation are on track to ensure growth and opportunities for green-collar workers. If you want to make a positive impact on the environment in your job each workday, explore trade and vocational programs online and in your area. 

Raj Daniels

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