What is a Green Collar Job?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A green collar job is a job which benefits the environment in some way. Some examples of green collar jobs include bicycle repair, landscaping, organic farming, materials reuse, and work in the alternative energy sector. Green collar careers are quite diverse, drawing upon a wide assortment of skills, and many of them are concentrated locally, presenting opportunities for community revitalization and creating jobs in areas which are experiencing recession.

Organic farming is a green collar job.
Organic farming is a green collar job.

While people have always been working in green collar jobs, interest in the green employment sector rose dramatically in the early 21st century, when consumers recognized a growing need to address environmental issues before it was too late. Many businesses responded to these consumer concerns by making their operations more environmentally friendly, and a number of green business initiatives rose up on their own to meet consumer demand for things like solar panels, environmentally friendly furnishings, and other green products. As a result, the green collar job sector dramatically expanded.

There are green collar jobs in the solar power industry.
There are green collar jobs in the solar power industry.

There are a number of reasons why the green collar job sector has attracted so much interest. One reason is that many green jobs must be based locally, by their very nature. Gardeners, remodelers, and home consultants must be able to reach their clients easily, and in environmentally friendly industries, cutting down on long travel is an important part of the business model. As a result, green collar jobs present local opportunities, allowing people to retool existing skills to work in the green sector, or providing an incentive to get training in a particular field of interest.

Because green collar jobs are locally based, many people see them as an opportunity for community involvement and revitalization. Several cities in the United States such as Oakland, California, have created green collar job initiatives which are designed to provide low-income individuals with useful skills. Green collar jobs help pull people off the streets, creating a useful and marketable skill set which they can take anywhere.

People are also interested in green collar job opportunities because of rising concerns about the health of the environment. By promoting employment in the green sector, many people hope to encourage the growth of green business, making environmentally friendly businesses practices commonplace and widely expected. By expanding the green sector, people also hope that environmentally friendly practices will become more affordable, making it easier for people to make the right choice for the environment.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I have noticed over the last several years that more and more green companies are doing business where I live. Only 10 or 20 years ago, no one in this area seemed to care one way or another whether their trash was recycled or deposited in a landfill. No one was willing to give up the convenience of gasoline powered cars for the more environmentally-friendly battery powered or hybrid vehicles.

I guess this simply goes to show how much the world is changing and how people have the power to influence the way companies do business. As consumers become more aware of the need to protect the environment, we should the number of green jobs increase in large numbers.


@mobilian33 - I'm not 100 percent positive, but I think the reason bicycle repair is included as a green collar job is because bikes are environmentally friendly, and anything to do with keeping bikes in working order could fall into this category of green collar jobs.

I once read an article that gave several statistics about how much energy we could save and how much we could cut down on pollution if just a very small percentage of us used a bicycle regularly instead of hoping into our cars to simply ride down the block or go a mile or two down the road.

Once you see how little measures can go so far toward improving the environment we live in, you are more willing to do your part. At least, I think many people would be willing.


I can see why most of the jobs listed in the first paragraph as green collar jobs belong on the list, but I don't understand why bicycle repair is in that group of jobs. Someone please explain to me how bicycle repair is good for the environment?

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