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Where the clean-tech jobs are

Report highlights which sectors and geographic areas of the U.S. are hotbeds for clean-tech job activity.

General unemployment may be on the rise, but the clean-tech sector should be a bright spot for job seekers, according to a report released Thursday by Clean Edge research.

The clean-technology sector was one of the largest recipients of venture capital last year, raising about $3.35 billion in the U.S., according to New Energy Finance statistics in the the "Clean Tech Job Trends 2009" report (PDF).

Unlike most reports from research firms, this one is free to download in full.

The 29-page report, which also draws on statistics from other organizations such as the Pew Charitable Trusts, includes a plethora of useful information for the clean-tech job hunter, including schools offering green career training, job posting and social media sites dedicated to clean-tech jobs, a list of the largest clean-tech employers, and a list of the best green-tech blogs.

Based on the number of job postings and placements, and public and private investment, the report found the solar industry to be the leading clean-tech sector, followed by biofuels and biomaterials, conservation and efficiency, smart grids, and wind power.

Clean Edge

For those willing to move for a job, the report lists the 15 areas in the U.S. where people are likely to find the most clean-tech job activity, as well as a separate list for global clean-tech hotspots.

"Unlike the early days of computers and IT, the clean-tech economy is a highly dispersed phenomenon, with no single place, industry, or professional demographic controlling the sector," Ron Pernick, co-founder and managing director of Clean Edge, said in a statement.

Not surprisingly, the San Francisco and Los Angeles greater metropolitan areas topped the U.S. list at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. The greater New York metropolitan area (which includes northern New Jersey and Long Island) was No. 3 for clean-tech jobs. Here's the breakdown:

  1. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose
  2. Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County
  3. New York-northern New Jersey-Long Island (N.Y.-N.J.-Conn.-Pa.)
  4. Boston-Worcester-Lawrence-Lowell-Brockton (Mass., N.H.)
  5. Washington, D.C.-Baltimore (Md., Va., W.V.)
  6. Denver-Boulder-Greeley
  7. Seattle-Tacoma-Bremerton
  8. Portland-Salem
  9. Chicago-Gary-Kenosha (Ill., Ind., Wisc.)
  10. Sacramento-Yolo County
  11. San Diego
  12. Austin-San Marcos, Texas
  13. Phoenix
  14. Detroit-Ann Arbor
  15. Houston-Galveston-Brazoria

The report also contains a comprehensive spreadsheet detailing the type of clean-tech jobs available, the typical degree level required, and the median pay levels. The jobs range in median pay from $36,100 to $106,000.

And while some jobs like project developer or geothermal power engineer require a bachelor's degree or even a specified engineering degree, most of the jobs on the list were true "green-collar" jobs in that they only require a high school diploma. Those jobs included HVAC service technician, journeyman lineman for smart grid, network operations center technician for smart grid, solar fabrication technician, and solar energy system installer.