Labor Secretary Touts Environmental Job Prospects

Working green can earn green, Alexis Herman says of a career as an environmental worker.

Labor Secretary Alexis Herman celebrated Earth Day by donning a hazardous remediation "space suit" to underscore the growing opportunities for environmental workers.

"You can work green and earn green," Herman said. "Environmental jobs are in demand, and with so many different types of jobs, there''s one for almost anyone interested in having Mother Earth for a boss."

During the April 18 photo opportunity, Herman learned how to identify buried drums that contain hazardous materials, as well as how to obtain hazardous soil and water samples safely.

The Labor Department also released a list of 10 environmental jobs intended to call attention to the diversity of "green occupations" available in the job market.

Topping the list are biological scientist positions, which are projected to grow by 35 percent over the 10-year period beginning in 1998, with a 1998 median annual salary of $46,140. Chemical engineer is the most lucrative of the 10 jobs, with a median annual income of $64,760, while environmental engineers come in second at $53,450.

Herman also took the opportunity to emphasize diverse skills and education needed for environmental careers. "Today''s environmental jobs demand skills, including good mathematics skills, computer literacy, and job specific training," she said. "Most of these occupations have been transformed by computer technology."

The list includes jobs not traditionally considered as environmental, such as chemical engineer and urban planner. "Some chemical engineers specialize in a particular environmental area, such as pollution control," Herman contended. Urban planners can be involved in a range of environmental issues, including pollution control, wetland conservation or the location of landfills.

The complete list and additional information about green jobs is available on the Internet at

by James L. Nash

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