Solar Energy’s “Dark Side” Comes to Light in New Environmental Jobs

This article is not intended to denigrate or politicize clean energy technology or the solar industry but to inform the public about new environmental jobs. The links provided lead to important job information.

Heavy Metals = Tough, Highly Skilled Environmental Jobs

San Francisco's CBS channel 5  in its coverage of the cleanup and decontamination of the Solyndra's facilities in California, has reported that toxic heavy metal compounds are present on the site. It is widely known that solar panel manufacturers use heavy metal materials such as Cadmium Telluride, Copper Indium Selenide,  and Gallium Arsenide . What is not discussed openly is that these highly toxic compounds require highly trained personnel and specialized equipment to remove these compounds for proper disposal. Since this article is focused on environmental jobs, let's talk about them here:

  1. Hazardous Materials Managers & Technicians: According to the Bureau of Labor (BLS) statistics the growth of jobs for hazardous materials removal workers will range from 20-28% or higher over the next decade. During a cleanup action, such as the one in California, technicians wearing protective gear (PPE) will sample all of the equipment and materials in the facility to determine what is clean and contaminated. Clean materials and equipment will be removed and disposed in the appropriate manner. Contaminated equipment and materials will dismantled, cleaned, packed and shipped to a licensed disposal facility.
  2. Environmental Engineers: Environmental engineers find ways to neutralize or minimize the toxic chemical's effect on the environment if there is some type of accidental release. This field is projected to have a growth rate over 25%.
  3. Inspectors:  Environmental Inspectors will make sure that the contaminated equipment, waste containers and the facility will be cleaned to regulations. They will also monitor the sampling, cleaning and closing procedures to make sure no corners are cut.
  4. Safety Managers: Safety managers will monitor the employees and safety equipment to make no one contracts a contamination derived illness. They will also have a key role in ensuring no contamination is released into the public.

As the solar industry continues its growth trend, there will be strong opportunities for environmental/hazardous waste professionals. It is my hope that many job seekers will explore environmental jobs to find the right opportunity for them.

Additional Resources

 5 Steps To Turn Your Disaster Recovery Experience Into A Career

Environmental Science Jobs To Boom Over Next Decade: Are You Ready?

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Hot Job Alert: Environmental Sales/Account Manager-Alabama

Hinton Human Capital, an emerging leader in executive search in Green, Environmental and Infrastructure industries is now searching for a Sales/Account Manager for a national environmental contractor in Birmingham, Alabama. The ideal candidate will have at least 5-10 years of sales experience plus the following skills and abilities:

Job Description

  • Demonstrated track record of selling services to local government agencies, industrial/manufacturing companies and utilities within a sales territory.
  • Experience selling environmental services such as disaster recovery/emergency response, decontamination, environmental lab services, environmental cleanup, heavy equipment and tank cleaning services is preferred
  • Ability to develop relationships which garner repeat business through professional organizations and networking.
  • Ability to work closely with internal staff in responding to RFPs, formulating proposals and presentations.
  • Assisting other sales staff with business development.


  • BS degree in Business, Marketing, Engineering or Science is required
  • Knowledge of the Alabama (Montgomery, Birmingham, Decatur Markets) is required
  • Experience using sale tools such as CRM, other databases and websites to generate leads


Apply Now

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Hot Job Alert: Southeast Regional Business Development Manager

Hinton Human Capital, an emerging leader in executive search in Environmental and Infrastructure industries is now searching for Regional Business Development Manager for a national engineering consulting firm. The ideal candidate will have at least 10 years of demonstrated experience in environmental consulting or contracting plus the following skills and abilities:

  • A “Seller/Doer” track record of business development, project management and technical accomplishments in soil/groundwater remediation  or hazardous waste for one or more of the following client types: manufacturing, oil/gas (underground storage tanks and bulk terminal) or utilities (coal ash, MGP or other environmental projects)

  • Ability to build and maintain relationships clients, regulators and stake holders in the southeast. Candidate should already have some relationships in place.

  • Strong experience putting together presentations , proposals and project teams

  • Knowledge of remediation techniques and technologies is required


BS degree in engineering or environmental sciences is a strong plus; Other degrees with experience may be considered

PE license is strong plus

CHMM, CPEA or other certifications are a strong plus


Atlanta, GA or Tampa, FL

Apply Online

Job Alert: Account Manager, Environmental Sales-North Carolina

Hinton Human Capital, an emerging leader in executive search in Climate Change, Environmental and Infrastructure industries is now searching for an Account Manager for a national environmental contractor in Greensboro, North Carolina. The ideal candidate will have at least 5-10 years of demonstrated environmental sales experience in the following areas:

  • Demonstrated track record of selling environmental services such as tank cleaning, emergency response, disaster recovery and remediation services to local government agencies, industrial/manufacturing companies and utilities within a sales territory
  • Ability to develop relationships which garner repeat business through professional organizations and networking.
  • Ability to work closely with internal staff in formulating proposals and presentations
  • Assisting other sales staff with business development


BS degree in Engineering or Science is preferred but not required

Experience selling environmental services is required

Certifications and licenses such as CHMM, REM, PE or PG are a strong plus

Apply Here

Want to See More Jobs?

Special Report:How to Leverage Your Volunteer Disaster and Oil Spill Experience Into A New Career

Take Advantage Of The Opportunity

Experience is one important factor every employer wants. They want to hire people who are competent, confident and can hit the ground running. The environmental disaster recovery industry is no different. The Louisiana Oil Spill clean up could spawn thousands of temporary jobs. The long-term opportunity lies in the fact that the cleanup workers must get hazardous material clean up/disposal training (Hazmat) before any oil can be cleaned. My goal here is show job seekers how to leverage this disaster recovery experience and training into a new career.

Take Action

  1. Decide if an environmental disaster recovery career is for you: The environmental disaster industry is not filled with easy or plush office jobs. It may mean working outdoors for long hours in hazardous conditions after earthquakes, floods, oil/chemical spills and terrorist attacks in remote areas around the world. These jobs will have a strong appeal for those who like physicallydemanding work. 

  3. Get educated and trained:  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, environmental technicians (disaster recovery is under this general category)will be one of the fastest growing career fields over the next 10 years due to high growth.If you are interested in a long-term job opportunity, getting additional education and training could be a good investment. There are accredited college degree programs in estimating, environmental management and safety which include advanced Hazmat classes. Applicants who complete these programs are in high demand by law enforcement, industrial firms and relief agencies. There are also certifications like CHMM. CHMP and HMMT  and training programs from EPA and OSHA  which could enhance long-term career aspects.  (Is It Worth the Green E-book) 

  5. Document Your Experience: Make sure you add all of your significant achievements and training to your resume. If you are in a volunteer status, get a letter on your volunteer organization’s letterhead which acknowledges your time of service and duties. Information like this will become important for future interviews. (Resume Writing Services)

  7. Network, Network Network: Disaster Response professionals and volunteers work all over the world. Many of them have connections to non-profit organizations and companies who can offer future employment. Get business cards and contact information from project managers, supervisors and government officials so you can build relationships and leverage their network contacts.( Join Hinton Human Capital Mail List)

Suggested Reading And Websites

Special Report: 3 Hot Environmental Certifications For Future Disaster, Environmental and Oil Spill Hazards

Institute of Hazardous Material Management

11 Infrastructure Jobs You Can Get Without a 4 Year College Degree

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Job Hunt.Org

Is It Worth The Green?

Green Career Central

Special Report: More Information on Oil Spill and Environmental Disaster Related Jobs

I am sure there are going to be people who disagree with me but this article had to be written. I am not making a political statement nor am I choosing sides in this matter. I am simply pointing out job opportunities for people who are searching. 

The mainstream media has had a field day examining the dangers of coal mining and offshore drilling in the wake of the recent disasters. I believe some of the scrutiny is warranted and if negligence is involved appropriate action must be taken. My job in this situation is to bring  job seekers a different perspective on how a crisis and disaster can mean new job opportunities in the green, environmental and infrastructure industries. Many of  the  career fields I highlight in this article have acute shortages of qualified people and a strong long-term outlook.  I have included certifications after each career field where applicable.

  1. Industrial Hygiene (CIH) and Safety (CSP) inspectors/ investigators : When a crisis or disaster happens there is always an investigation. CIH and CSP investigators try to ascertain if there were any environmental health and safety issues or violations which contributed to the accident and report their findings to the company, government officials, insurance companies and legal counsel, if necessary. There is an acute shortage of CIH and CSP throughout the US industrial complex. Some of the positions in this industry do not require a technical degree but do require extensive training sponsored by government and professional organizations.  

  3. Environmental Forensics Investigators: Different from the CIH and CSP professionals, forensic professionals figure why and how the accident occurred through a process called  failure analysis. Forensics professionals are usually architects, engineers, scientists and construction managers who look at how the rig was designed and constructed and what processes were happening at the time of the explosion to determine why the structure collapsed. The same type of professionals analyzed the World Trade Center and the Minnesota bridge to learn how and why they collapsed. Forsenics is a highly specialized field which requires high levels of experience and training. This is why it suffers from shortages of qualified people.

  5. Environmental Disaster clean up and remediation professionals: Disaster clean up and remediation has become a major industry because of  accidents, natural disaster and terrorism. Not only is there a shortage of engineers and scientists but there is a shortage of technicians as well. The technical staff will have a number of different education and training levels but all will be trained in hazardous and industrial waste disposal. Two of the best certifications for hazardous waste disposal is Certified Hazardous Material Manager (CHMM) or Certified Hazardous Material Practitioner (CHMP) which are handled by the Institute of Hazardous Materials Management (IHMM). There are also EPA, private company and state sponsored programs which provide this training.

  7. Environmental and Habitat Restoration professionals: Biologists, botanists, ecologists, landscapers and veterinary professionals will play a vital role in the recovery of the environmentally impacted shoreline and injured animal populations. The after effects of the oil spill will have to be monitored and studied for years after the event. The restoration efforts will even extend from the land out to the ocean depths to mitigate any future impacts from the Oil Spill. These long-term assignments are usually funded by the company responsible for the disaster and the federal government.

What You Should Consider

Environmental crises and disasters are an unfortunate part of life. But their blow can be lessened by dedicated professionals who ensure the situation does not happen again and restore the impacted habitat close to its natural state.  If you are looking for a career that will make a difference in the environment and people’s lives, look at these. Thanks


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