From global warming to local waste management, environmental challenges have become part of our everyday life, and an inevitable part of our future. To face these challenges, more and more young students are entering the field of environmental studies and finding work in green sectors. In this guide, find out about environmental education options in San Diego and what job opportunities lie ahead.
There are many areas that are considered Green Sectors. The main sectors are:
- Renewable Energy
- Green Building & Energy Efficiency
- Biofuels & Alternative Fuels Transportation
- Water, Wastewater, & Waste Management
- Environmental Compliance & Sustainability Planning
In the energy sector, for instance, graduates can find jobs as Solar PV Installers. But there are many more career options in this sector alone – for example: Solar Thermal Designer, Energy Auditors and Retrofit Specialist, HVAC Technician (Heating and A/C), Geothermal Technician, and even Wind Turbine Technician and Engineer.
As a Solar System Installer/Technician, you might earn around $31,200- $52,000 annually. The demand for this position is approximately 2,400 new openings a year. About 20 colleges in California offer training, with an estimated number of 1,100 – 1,200 graduates annually. Education in this field of expertise:
- San Diego City College – AIRE/HVAC and Solar certification.
- Cuyamaca CC – Solar Thermal and Solar Voltaic.
- SDSU online- Green Energy Management.
- Clean Edison- Level I Thermography Training – Suitable for Energy Auditor that wants to increase the accuracy and speed of the audit.
Green Building & Retrofits
Cost Estimators for Green Building or Retrofitting can earn up to $61,000 annually. There is a growing demand for these jobs, estimated at 3,400 new jobs over the next 5 years.
Education in this field of expertise:
- Palomar CC – Home Energy Raters Certification
- SDSU– Professional Certificate in Green Building Construction– This program is geared for those interested in the implementation of sustainable building tools and strategies. It is also recommended for professionals moving into fields that require knowledge of green building or sustainable design, or anyone who recognizes the emerging importance of sustainable design and its impact on our daily life
- SDSU- PBI Certification – San Diego State University in conjunction with Greener Dawn LLC is offering a local Building Performance Institute (BPI) certification course. Contracting firms can send employees to a SDSU course and receive a 50% rebate within 90 days of completion of the course. Greener Dawn’s PBI Fast Track Training is the industry’s most flexible and cost-effective way to get accredited. The combined Building Analyst and Building Envelope course along with both written exams is offered at a significant discount.
San Diego State University and Greener Dawn offer a 6 week comprehensive BPI training course that incorporates both classroom time and online time. For more information, go to GD Training at http://www.bpitrainingnow.com/.
- SDSU online- Green Building Construction– Learn practical skills and knowledge that will position you for good jobs in the growing green building industry.
Environmental Compliance & Sustainability Planning
San Diego has several education institutes that offer classes and degrees in environmental studies. The University of California San Diego (UCSD) offers an Environmental Systems Program. Students who enroll to the program are drawn to the opportunity to gain a broad perspective on sustainable solutions and the chance to get practical experience in their implementation. The program provides a thorough background in both natural sciences and policy and requires participation in a yearlong environmental internship. By doing so, the Environmental Systems Program ensures graduating students find jobs in their respective fields.
The San Diego State University (SDSU) programs offer its students with the scientific and technical knowledge to effectively tackle the environmental problems of not only the present but also the future.
The University of San Diego (USD) is also offering classes and degrees in this field through the department of Marine Science and Environmental Studies. Education in this field of expertise:
- UCSD – Environmental Studies Minor– The Environmental Studies Minor is open to students from all majors and colleges at UCSD. It offers a broad interdisciplinary perspective on the environmental aspects of any field of study.
- UCSD – Environmental Systems– To encourage and foster an interdisciplinary focus in the major, the Environmental Systems Program is supported by a wide range of UCSD faculty representing the natural sciences, the social sciences, the humanities, engineering, and medicine.
- SDSU – Environmental Sciences– Environmental Sciences is an interdisciplinary program that leads to a Bachelor of Science degree in applied arts and sciences. The program provides students with a rigorous and broad foundation in those sciences most relevant to environmental issues. The program offers three emphases: Ecosystem Management, International Environmental Sciences, Watershed Science (joint program with the Department of Geography).
- SDSU– Environmental Studies and Sustainability– The Environmental Studies and Sustainability major is an emphasis within the Social Science major. The major consists of 33 units, including a 9-unit required core of courses, a 9-unit distribution requirement, and a 15-unit concentration. Three lower-division units in Environmental Science are required as preparatory course work for the major. In addition, students are encouraged to take a college-level biology course, and complete their GE Foundations in Natural Sciences and Quantitative Reasoning and in Humanities before undertaking the upper division courses for the major.
- SDSU online- Sustainable Practices– Learn the skills you need to take a proactive role in green initiatives, whether that’s at home or at work.
- SDSU Environmental Engineering– The SDSU programs provide students with an education that will allow them to be competitive for employment positions in engineering consulting firms, industries, private and municipal agencies, local, state and federal government, international agencies, research institutions and universities. The Environmental Engineering Programs at SDSU are offered to grant B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees.
- USD- Environmental Studies Major– The environmental studies major is offered by the Marine Science and Environmental Studies Department and is designed as an interdisciplinary approach studying environmental issues from the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities perspectives. This major is intended to provide students with a background in the natural sciences balanced by breadth in the social sciences and humanities most directly connected to environmental issues facing the world today.
- USD- Environmental Studies Minor– The environmental studies minor is intended to accompany majors in the natural sciences, liberal arts, business, or education. This minor is intended to provide coursework in subjects that will help a student work in fields related to environmental policy or management.
- USD – Marine Science and Environmental Studies– offers both field and laboratory intensive courses, providing the students with hands-on experience preparing them for graduate school and/or careers in environmental sciences.
Water, Wastwater, &Waste Management
- SIO – Marine Ecosystem Forecasting– The Scripps Institution of Oceanography has been awarded $12 million by the U.S. Department of Commerce/National Institute of Standards and Technology to construct a new laboratory building on the Scripps campus for research on marine ecosystem forecasting. This new building will become a resource for marine ecological research at Scripps and for other national and international ocean science organizations.
- USD – Marine Science and Environmental Studies– offers both field and laboratory intensive courses, providing the students with hands-on experience that prepares them for graduate school and/or careers in environmental science.
Biofuels & Alternative Fuels Transportation
The demand for Biofuel Production Technicians is estimated to be 1,600 – 5,300 new jobs over the next 3-5 years. The earnings are from $26,600 to $66,400 annually*.
Education in this field of expertise:
- Mira Costa CC – Hybrid Vehicle Technician
- An interesting guide to environmental studies – What can you do with each degree
- Education-portal.com– Search for degrees, careers, and schools; find links, articles, and information.
- SDGE Training and Seminars– Learn about Led lighting, solar shade workshop, retro commissioning of buildings and many more.
- To read about UC San Diego’s Sustainability 2.0 Initiative, see the website.
*Source: Center of Excellence Statewide Solar Industry Survey in 2008