It’s Easy Being Green—Environmental Jobs are Blossoming in Australia

The world comes together to celebrate Earth Day on April 22. This annual event promoting environmental protection began in 1970 and today includes events across more than 193 countries. As Earth Day approaches, Indeed has identified the top green jobs in Australia, where these jobs are located and how our share of green jobs compares with those in other countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom.

Employer demand for green jobs Down Under was almost 50% higher in 2017 than in 2015, with much of the increase occurring since late 2016. Growth during that period has been strongest in Victoria and South Australia, while states such as Western Australia and Tasmania have seen opportunities decline.

You might be surprised to learn that green job opportunities in Australia compare favourably against a range of similar countries. The green job share tracks 30% higher than in the United Kingdom and 60% higher than in the United States. Even Canada, whose resource-rich economy is most similar to Australia’s, has relatively fewer green jobs.

Environmental health officers are most in demand

Environmental health officer ranks as Australia’s top green job, accounting for almost one-third of total green jobs. It ranks ahead of environmental manager at 18% and environmental consultant at 10%. There are also opportunities for workers with varying levels of education and experience–officers and assistants at the junior end, and managers and specialists for those with greater experience.

The green sector is growing rapidly. Demand for senior environmental scientists rose 264% over the past three years, while the share of job postings for less experienced environmental scientists rose 131%. For directors of environmental services and water resource engineers, the number of job postings per million total postings more than doubled.

However, some green jobs have seen better days. Over the past three years, job postings in two of Australia’s top 10 green jobs—water treatment specialists and safety, health and environmental assistants—fell one-quarter and one-third, respectively. Meanwhile, year-round sunshine wasn’t enough to keep opportunities for solar installers from falling 4.6%.

Victoria leads the pack for green jobs

It wasn’t always the case, but Victoria has emerged as the top state for green jobs. In fact, it was the only state with a concentration of green jobs higher than the national average. This is quite a leap. Three years ago, Victoria ranked fifth for green job opportunities, well behind front runners Tasmania and Western Australia. Although no single factor has driven Victoria’s surge up the rankings, Melbourne’s status as the world’s most liveable city may depend on it continuing.

Victoria has the most green jobs in Australia

Western Australia’s green jobs decline comes as a surprise given the ramp-up in iron ore and coal production over the past three years. An Indeed analysis of the United States found a greater concentration of green jobs in areas with high concentrations of ‘dirty’ jobs. This doesn’t appear to be the case in Australia. Western Australia and Queensland, the two states with a high concentration of mining jobs, rank slightly below the national average for green opportunities.  

Australia’s green sector is large by international standards

Despite the political uncertainty surrounding Australia’s climate change policy, with the major parties promoting very different approaches, the country has developed a sizeable green sector. In the first quarter of 2018, Australia’s share of green jobs was 30% higher than the United Kingdom’s, 60% greater than that in the United States and 85% higher than Canada’s. And Australia appears to be pulling away from the pack. Much of the green gap has emerged over the past 18 months.

Graph showing Australia's green jobs sector is large by international standards

Green jobs are expected to continue growing over the next few years. Pinsent Masons, a global law firm, surveyed 250 senior-level executives from 200 energy generation and distribution companies. It found Australia ranked 5th, behind Germany, China, the United Kingdom and India, as a target for global energy investment. The main impediment to further investment appears to be Australia’s lack of a clear energy policy. Australia ranks poorly against other countries surveyed on this score, but there’s always room for improvement!

Methodology

For this blog post, we identified job titles containing one or more of the following terms: biofuel, sustainability, sustainable, biomass, brownfield, climate, energy, environment, environmental, geothermal, green, hydroelectric, ecologist, methane, recycle, recycling, solar, photovoltaic, PV, thermal, wind, water, hydrology, hydrologist, geoscientist, geoscience, conservationist, climatology, climatologist, conservation, ecology, ecologist, ecological, ecosystem, biodiversity and biodynamic. We then filtered this list to identify jobs that were clearly dedicated to environmental protection.

Callam Pickering is an economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab with a focus on Australia.

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