By Joyce Lain Kennedy

DEAR JOYCE: My career trajectory seems to be coming to a slamming halt. I'm interested in looking into a green job but am not sure where to start, other than back to college. Silly or sound idea? -- K.H.G.

Go for it. You probably know that the downsides to career-change are: (1) starting over at beginner's pay, and (2) not being competitive with industry veterans who have current experience in what you hope to learn.

CATCHING A BREAK. But your odds improve when a sea change -- such as green ideas or industry-altering technology -- takes hold and the playing field levels out for a new wave of career reinventors.

Acknowledging eco-trends, colleges across the nation -- both four- and two-year institutions -- are ramping up classes and degree programs with a green focus.

Both career changers and first-time students are heading for the sustainable green economy for more than sheer altruism and the opportunity to do personally satisfying work -- they've heard that green-tinged careers may be the bonanza to this decade's job market that the Internet was to the 1990s.

TWO LEVELS OF JOBS. Desirable green jobs come in two broad categories:

1) The standing-up kind, which is trade- and craft-oriented -- such as jobs found in clean-tech manufacturing, solar panel installation, green construction and sustainable forestry. These can't be shipped offshore. Prepare in community college or apprenticeships.

2) The sitting-down kind, which is professional- and managerial-oriented -- such as jobs found in science, engineering, public policy, business and law. These can be shipped offshore. Prepare in colleges and universities.

(For more job ideas, click on the following Google search: Google Seasrch: Best paid green jobs


Americans are bombarded with forecasts of glowing opportunities in the sustainable green economy, but, as your situation suggests, finding useful and reliable specifics in one place has been a challenge.

That changes with the publication of "Green Careers For Dummies" (Wiley), a definitive new guide by Carol McClelland.

The author provides satisfying research that not only clarifies the elusive details of what we call the green economy but helps job seekers discover which green endeavors best fit their strengths and interests, then shows them how to find openings and get hired.

When McClelland isn't writing books, she directs Green Career Central (, an online resource center for professionals, students and career counselors who are targeting the green job market.

McClelland believes the new green economy is rolling forward -- neither fad nor bubble. But she warns that there are likely to be unexpected bumps and stop signs along the way. No guarantees.

Without question, her "Green Careers For Dummies" ranks in the top tier of career books, a keeper that you'll return to again and again. I know I will.

DEAR JOYCE: I urgently need to locate references for jobs of 10 years ago but can't find anyone I worked for or with. Suggestions? -- M.T.

Sleuth the Web -- try resources such as, and Google the person's name. Also search and reach out on such social media as, and

Yours is an evergreen question to which the best answer is setting up a connection system before exiting a company. That is, dig a well before you're thirsty. Here's how:

Whenever you leave a job, write a brief and friendly e-mail message addressed to each colleague -- not an impersonal mass mailing to "undisclosed list." Say that you are leaving, mention where you're going, and don't slime your present employer. Say you've enjoyed working with your colleague (give an example when possible) and that you hope the two of you will remain in touch. Give your full contact information, including, if you use it, social media.

Periodically send e-greeting cards with good wishes and updates. Occasionally call to catch up on life's events.

Maintenance is easier than reconstruction when you quickly need to round up job references.

Available at

Green Careers For Dummies


Job Blues? Try Coloring Your Career Green | Jobs & Careers

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