Clean Energy Job Growth: What You Need to Know

Less than six months after it was signed into law, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has already spurred over 100,000 clean energy and climate-related jobs in the U.S., with a total 9 million jobs anticipated to be created over the next decade. In fact, it is estimated that 99 percent of people who will be working in climate industries by 2030 haven’t yet begun.


But what types of companies are seeing the most growth, and which jobs are currently highest in demand? We spoke with Catherine McLean; as CEO and Founder of clean energy and sustainability recruitment firm, Dylan Green, Catherine lives and breathes these jobs on a day to day basis. Test your knowledge, and see if you can guess her answers to the following questions.

  1. What types of climate and clean energy jobs are most in demand these days? 
    1. Sales, marketing, and communications
    2. Project origination, finance, and development 
    3. Engineering and IT 
    4. Operations 

Catherine: “Project origination, finance, and development jobs are by far the most in demand that I’ve seen, particularly among utility-scale solar and storage and electric vehicle (EV) companies. The reason for this is that there is a lot of capital being invested into these kinds of projects at the moment. There are a ton of applicants who work in marketing and communications, but I’m actually seeing the least demand for these types of roles currently. While my clients previously had a decent amount of marketing jobs open about a year ago, these have really slowed down in recent months.”

  1. What types of clean energy companies are hiring more?  
    1. Wind energy
    2. Energy efficiency 
    3. Solar and storage
    4. EVs

Catherine: “All of the above, but I’m seeing a huge increase among larger solar and storage companies, as well as EV companies. I would also add that sustainability job openings have been increasing at a similar rate to EV job openings. A year ago, I wasn’t filling any roles with EV companies or organizations looking to start or develop their sustainability departments. Today, it’s a different story.”

  1. How often are clean energy companies hiring candidates from outside the industry? 
    1. <10% of the time
    2. <25% of the time
    3. 50% of the time 
    4. >50% of the time

Catherine: “Clean energy employers are still quite interested in only hiring applicants who already have clean energy experience, so my answer to this is less than 10% of the time. However, cleantech is hiring 5x more from other industries compared to the oil and gas industry, which hires almost exclusively from within. This is partially due to the fact that the oil and gas industry is hiring less in general compared to the renewables industry. I have also been increasingly able to show clean energy employers the value of hiring candidates from outside the industry. In fact, last year I was able to double the number of non-clean energy industry candidates I placed compared to the year prior. If our industry is to scale in a short amount of time, we absolutely need to hire and learn from candidates with transferable skills who come from more developed industries.” 

  1. Which of the following backgrounds/experiences are clean energy employers interested in? 
    1. Legal
    2. Real estate
    3. Policy 
    4. Finance

Catherine: “Hands down, clean energy companies, especially utility-scale solar and storage companies, are looking for applicants with a background in real estate. This is due to the fact that their skills are very easily transferable. For example, someone who works in solar project development can leverage the similar financing, permitting, and legal structures that non-solar real estate projects utilize. Other than real estate, I have been able to source and place candidates in clean energy who came from industries such as legal and finance, to name a few.”

  1. What percentage of employers are looking for more women, BIPOC, LGBTQ, or people with other marginalized identities? 
    1. <10% of the time
    2. <25% of the time
    3. 50% of the time 
    4. >50% of the time

Catherine: “My clients are requesting more diverse candidates the vast majority of the time, as employers are well aware of the benefits of hiring and retaining staff from a wide range of backgrounds - including over 25 percent greater company profitability. This is great news, as it’s essential that we prioritize diversity as our industry rapidly expands - both because it’s the right thing to do, as well as because it has been proven to enable greater innovation.”

  1. What percentage of the time are clean energy employers open to remote work?
    1. <10% of the time
    2. <25% of the time
    3. 50% of the time 
    4. >50% of the time 

Catherine: “Employers still prefer staff to work in person, however, they are much more flexible about this due to getting used to staff working remotely as a result of COVID. Hybrid roles are the most common type of role that I’m currently seeing. So while employers prefer staff work remotely 0-10 percent of the time, they are open to 40-60 percent in office versus remote work, particularly if they are highly interested in a candidate. Some employers do agree to fully remote candidates if they are the top choice for the role.”

  1. Are clean energy companies interviewing more or less than they were a year ago? 
    1. More
    2. Less 

Catherine: “Ironically, despite the fact that there is significantly higher demand for new clean energy jobs, employers across the board are investing far less time interviewing candidates. That is because they are getting burned out in this market, where the supply of candidates is still low relative to the high demand for skilled workers. Employers are increasingly using recruitment firms to do the heavy lifting of searching for and vetting candidates for them. That way they only have to spend time interviewing a few they are really interested in. Employers are, therefore, also moving much more quickly from interviewing to hiring.”

Are you looking for your next role in clean energy or climate-related work? Take a look at Dylan Green’s clients’ latest job openings - from finance to business development to project management: If you’re an employer looking for support with sourcing candidates for your job openings, get in touch with Catherine on LinkedIn. 



Author: Catherine McLean
Volume: 2022 May/June