The Complete Idiots Guide to Green CareersWhat do you want to be when you grow up — during the Obama administration? If you’re looking for one of those green jobs our president often talks about, a new guide, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Green Careers, could help you explore your possibilities.

Written by Barbara Parks and Jodi Helmer, Green Careers basically goes through all sorts of green jobs out there — from those in farming to renewable energy to green building — detailing the basic duties, pros and cons, requirements and salaries of each position. Don’t know whether you want to be a bioenergy process engineer or a biofuel research scientist because you can’t tell what the difference is? The former requires a PhD while the latter may accept just a master’s degree — and the difference between the median annual salaries is only $400.

Green Careers could be especially useful for those seeking — whether by desire or economic necessity — lateral career moves. An arborist, for example, makes just $9.50 an hour, on average. If said arborist simply just loves working with plants, she could get her bachelor's degree and become a horticulturist, bringing her salary up to $52,052 a year.

If you need help narrowing your job search, reading the career descriptions will help. Think you want to be a farmers market manager because you love yummy local, organic fruit and want to organize local events? Then ask yourself if you love fresh cherries and chili cookoffs enough to work weekend evenings and most weekends — for $29,120 a year. Manage a landfill and recycling center instead and you can earn $51,402 — but then you’d see more cherry pits than cherries.

Of course, those with absolutely no idea how to pick from the wealth of career choices out there may have an anxiety attack after reading all the options in this book. If you have this tendency, try to figure out what you enjoy first — because really, anything can be a green job. Event planner, investment broker and travel agent are all occupations listed in the book, as all of them can be eco-fied (zero-waste meetings! green investments! eco-vacations!).

That means if you already have a job you’re fairly happy with, Green Careers could give you some ideas for greening it. Not all the news may be things you want to hear, however. Under “Writer” (”Blogger” was not listed), Green Careers notes that “long and erratic work hours might cause stress, fatigue, or burnout for writers. Using computers for extended periods can also cause health problems such as back pain and eyestrain.”

Good to know! I’ll take a break from writing after this post. For L.A.-area job seekers: Solar Living Institute’s put together an L.A. Green Career Conference, happening Sunday, June 7, from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. at UCLA. Events and perks include a free resume review, panels, keynotes and networking opportunities. Registration fees range from $75 for students to $175 at the door. Good luck with your green career!

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