Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Us

State and Local Climate and Energy Program

Workforce Development

What are Clean Energy Jobs?

Clean Energy Jobs Many organizations have offered different definitions of green jobs. The following definition is provided by The White House's Middle Class Task Force:

“Green jobs are jobs that provide products and services which use renewable energy resources, reduce pollution, conserve energy and natural resources, and reconstitute waste.”

In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released their definition of green jobs, stating that green jobs are either: jobs in businesses that produce goods or services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources, or jobs in which worker's duties involve making their establishment’s production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources.

Clean energy jobs are a subset of green jobs—those related to energy efficiency, renewable energy, and clean combined heat and power (CHP). Examples of clean energy jobs can include:

  • Energy auditors
  • Insulation and weatherization technicians
  • HVAC technicians and installers
  • Wind energy technicians
  • Solar photovoltaics or solar water heating installers
  • Manufacturers, distributors, and salespeople of energy efficient products
  • Low carbon (or clean energy) transportation planners, manufacturers, refiners, or technicians
  • Research and development staff
  • State energy and/or environment office staff

Top of page

State Green Jobs Analyses:

How Does a State Develop a Clean Energy Workforce?

The aim of developing a clean energy workforce is for the demand for open jobs to match the supply of qualified workers. Basic guidelines for developing an effective clean energy workforce include the following:

  1. Promote clean energy policies, which are needed to develop and expand the market for services and businesses, and therefore jobs.
    • Energy efficiency policies and programs, such as energy savings goals, lead by example measures, and weatherization programs can spur the market for clean energy businesses.
    • Renewable energy policies, such as renewable portfolio standards, green power purchasing targets, and on-site generation incentives (e.g., solar photovoltaics) can spur the market for clean energy businesses.
    • Consider strategies to develop and/or strengthen in-state green businesses that can fulfill these policies. Examples include creating clean-tech clusters and implementing revolving loans for the retooling of manufacturing facilities.
  2. Identify current and future projections of business and labor market needs in the target market(s) to determine gaps.
  3. Facilitate partnerships between workforce development stakeholders.
    • Leverage potential partners that already exist, such as state departments of labor and other state agencies, industry associations, workforce investment boards, career centers, chambers of commerce, local unions, and related NGOs.
    • Create sector-based collaboratives to identify what efforts are needed in a specific target sector to train workers.

Top of page

What Certifications are Used?

Although no national certification standard exists, the following certifications are currently used by many states:

Top of page

What are States Doing?

State Examples

Common strategies for developing clean energy workforce development programs include:

  • Evaluating the current clean energy workforce in a state and conducting gap analyses to identify training program and industry needs.
  • Establishing dedicated “green collar” funds to finance worker training programs (e.g., legislatively, through system benefits charges, with Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative auction funds).
  • Working with established universities, community colleges, and vocational/technical high schools to integrate clean energy workforce training into existing curricula and programs.
  • Tailoring programs for low–income workers (e.g., Pathways out of Poverty).

Unique approaches to clean energy workforce development include:

  • Awarding additional renewable energy certificates (RECs) to utilities with an apprenticeship program (e.g., Washington Exit EPA disclaimer)
  • Authorizing community colleges to issue bonds on behalf of businesses that create green jobs-with the money used to support training for new jobs and related program administrative expenses(e.g., Iowa New Jobs Training ProgramExit EPA disclaimer)
  • Developing regional workforce response teams that can cater to unique conditions and energy opportunities within regions of a state e.g., Oregon Workforce Response Teams Exit EPA disclaimer)
  • Combining multiple state departments that influence job creation to align all activities related to energy efficiency and renewable energy with the state's workforce efforts (e.g., Michigan Exit EPA disclaimer).
  • Creating an in-state resource center to focus on training trainers, developing curricula, identifying career pathways, and conducting regional labor market studies (e.g., Louisiana Exit EPA disclaimer).

Top of page


State Technical Forum

General | Energy Efficiency | Renewable Energy


Clean Energy Workforce Conference

The annual Clean Energy Workforce Education Conference Exit EPA disclaimer covers market trends, economic drivers, instructional strategies, curricula development, and best practices for training.

Community Colleges and the Green Workforce

Going Green: The Vital Role of Community Colleges in Building a Sustainable Future and Green Workforce examines the growing role of community colleges in the clean energy economy. The report provides examples of innovative strategies used by community colleges, information on the fastest growing sectors in the green economy, and additional resources.

Green Workforce Strategies

Occupational Competency Models

A competency model is useful to organize the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to perform in a particular occupation or industry. Competency models form the foundation for developing curriculum and selecting training materials, and for licensure and certification requirements, job descriptions, recruiting and hiring, and performance reviews.

Standard Occupational Classification (SOC)

SOC is used by federal and state agencies to classify workers into occupational categories for the purpose of collecting, calculating, or disseminating data.

U.S. Department of Labor Resources

Top of page

Energy Efficiency

Energy Efficiency Services Sector: Workforce Education and Training Needs

In 2010, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) issued a study, Energy Efficiency Services Sector: Workforce Education and Training Needs (PDF) (71 pp, 768K), which describes the current state of education and training programs to support the energy efficiency services workforce in the United States. The report also analyzes training and education needs to support expected growth in the energy efficiency services workforce.

Recovery through Retrofit

In 2009, the Vice President's Middle Class Task Force asked the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to develop a proposal for federal action that builds on the foundation laid in the Recovery Act to expand green job opportunities and boost energy savings by making homes more energy efficient. CEQ has been facilitating a broad interagency process with the Office of the Vice President, 11 Departments and Agencies and six White House Offices to develop recommendations. These recommendations are described in the Recovery Through Retrofit Report, along with an Implementation Plan.

Weatherization Assistance Program Technical Assistance Center Training Resources

The Department of Energy (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program Exit EPA disclaimer has documented core competencies for weatherization workers in various job positions and has developed standardized curricula that can be used by training facilities across the country. DOE also tracks training opportunities for weatherization.

Training Guide for Home Performance Professionals

Home Energy magazine publishes an annual guide (PDF) (7 pp, 1.68M) Exit EPA disclaimer to training opportunities for job skills needed for work in weatherization, home performance contracting, home energy rating, national and local green building programs, and other related programs. Updated versions are available to subscribers.

Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy Training Best Practices

The Renewable Energy Training Best Practices report (PDF) (25 pp, 284K) Exit EPA disclaimer by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council recommends training guidelines, training criteria, assessment tools, task analyses, credentialing programs, and other resources for renewable energy training programs.

Renewable Energy Training Catalog

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) tracks certified renewable energy training providers in its Renewable Energy Training Catalog Exit EPA disclaimer. IREC also tracks information about four–year universities Exit EPA disclaimer that are offering undergraduate and graduate courses in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Courses can be searched by state, technology or both.

Solar Instructor Training Network

The Solar Instructor Training Network was launched in October 2009 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to address a critical need for high-quality, local, and accessible training in solar system design, installation, sales, and inspection. The network is a five-year effort intended to create a geographic blanket of training opportunities in solar installation across the United States.

Top of page

Jump to main content.