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    What is a green job and how do I land one?

    Article by Tasneem Johnson-Dollie

    Tasneem Johnson-Dollie

    Posted: April 2, 2021

    Disclaimer: The images in this article were taken pre-COVID-19.

    You may have tons of passion for environmental work, but landing green jobs that help the environment also requires planning and determination. 

    Today, sustainable development jobs are all over the place. Individuals in these positions not only take the well-being of the environment into consideration in the work they do, they also look to find ways to contribute towards environmental well-being every day. 

    According to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), unsustainable industries are giving way to work that’s much more green-minded and the global economy depends on green jobs now more than ever before.

    But, what exactly are green jobs and why are environmentally friendly occupations becoming the gold standard in industry?

    Let’s clear a path through the abundance of green industry jobs to get a better view of what jobs that help the environment are all about. 

    What is a green job?


    The International Labour Organisation (ILO) defines green jobs as: “decent jobs in any economic sector (for example agriculture, industry, services or administration) which contribute to preserving, restoring and enhancing environmental quality”.

    Still not quite sure what exactly a green job looks like? Well, here are some examples of occupations that qualify as green jobs:

    • a recycler
    • a biofuel engineer
    • a natural scientist
    • a green builder
    • a transport efficiency specialist.

    Green industry jobs pave the way for passionate individuals to get involved in innovative work that contributes to addressing the effects of climate change. 

    And every new green job employee entering the field adds to the global community’s capacity and ability to develop and implement solutions to climate change. 

    Green jobs span every industry and rely on individuals with various skills and from different professional backgrounds. 

    But this doesn’t mean that landing a green job is easily done. 

    When it comes to jobs that help the environment, potential employees will be looking to see how you’ve turned your passion into tangible professional development. So, how can you be sure that you’re doing all you can to stick the landing as a green industry employee? 



    Let’s take a look at one GVI alum’s journey to a green career for some tips. 

    How to plan for a future working in jobs that help the environment

    One of the best ways to learn more about green industry jobs is to get advice from those who’ve worked their way up and found success in the field. 

    With almost eight years of experience working in conservation all around the world, Pádraig O’Grady’s story offers heaps of valuable insight.

    Pádraig’s path to green job success


    After completing a bachelor’s degree in marine biology, Pádraig felt that he had tons of knowledge that could boost his employability as a conservationist – but he wasn’t quite sure how to get to where he wanted to be – working in the field of conservation. 

    He was keen to keep his momentum and continued to push his professional development by gaining a Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Advanced Open Water Diver certification while mulling over his next steps. 

    Then in 2014, Pádraig got to hear about GVI’s marine conservation internship opportunities, took some time researching our programs, and decided to sign up for our 6-month internship in Fiji

    He recalls day-to-day life working in Fiji as being filled with morning and afternoon dives in tropical waters, surveying more than 100 different marine species, gaining experience in data management, taking part in Fijian language lessons and engaging with community members. 



    And, between “office hours” he had the chance to travel to Fiji’s capital, Suva, as well as other islands, join kava-drinking ceremonies – a cultural event that incorporates Fiji’s national drink – and spent hours on the sandy coastline playing volleyball with local people.

    His internship with GVI included a 12-week placement with a dive shop, Aqua-Trek, an organisation known for offering underwater experiences where you could spot as many as eight sharks in a single dive! It was here that Pádraig was able to sharpen his diving techniques and skills as a marine guide. 

    With his internship completed, he headed home with a whole host of new skills in his professional tool kit. Still not quite sure where exactly his professional experience would take him, Pádraig surrounded himself with his passions, completing his master’s in animal behaviour, getting involved in marine biology lecturing, and developing learning materials for university students. 

    And one day, while on the hunt for a job in conservation, Pádraig clicked on the most recent vacancy update he’d received as a member of GVI’s alumni mailing list. This led to him landing his first job as a professional conservationist in Thailand working with Thai elephants! 

    Today, Pádraig is the Director of Operations for the Madagascar Research and Conservation Institute, a prestigious role that he landed thanks to the comprehensive theoretical and hands-on experience he was persistent in pursuing. But, with the green industry growing every day, he still sees himself travelling and seeking out exciting opportunities in his future. 

    What matters most when working towards a green career


    Pádraig’s practical example has some similarities to many other green job conquerors out there, no matter what field of the green industry they were aiming for.

    Passion, perseverance and pouncing on every opportunity that offers you the chance to learn and grow personally and professionally will clear the path to your perfect green job.

    You may not know exactly where you’re heading until you get there, so be flexible on your journey without losing focus on what made you start off in pursuit of a green career in the first place.

    For example, don’t fixate on doing marine conservation work that’s specific to Indian sea stars off the coast of Thailand’s Phang Nga Bay – you’ll only be restricting yourself. Rather, grab on to any opportunity you can to get involved in marine conservation projects and keep a keen eye out for opportunities that’ll take you closer to your end goal. 

    Green internships are a great way to get stuck into gaining important field experience while also growing your professional network and finding your way through the working world with all the support you need. 

    How to get involved in the best green internships


    With programs centred on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, courses developed by field experts, and a suite of sought-after global destinations to choose from, GVI’s green internships offer a world’s worth of professional development and hands-on experience. 

    And the qualifications, professional recommendation and career counselling sessions included on every program means you’ll be set up to take the green industry by storm once your internship is done. 

    Grow your potential in landing jobs that help the environment by signing up for a GVI internship abroad or check out our job vacancies and get started on your career.

    By Tasneem Johnson-Dollie

    Tasneem Johnson-Dollie is a travel writer living in South Africa. She has experience in public health nutrition and worked as a dietician before launching her writing career. She loves bringing her passion for public health and sustainable development to every article she writes. Her travels around South Africa as well as to India, Australia, and Saudi Arabia have fueled her passion for exploration.