Where the Green Jobs Are

While the job title "Chief Sustainability Officer" isn’t yet prevalent at most large corporations, Green IT jobs exist anywhere data centers exist. In a recent survey by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and CFO Research Services, the majority of senior finance and IT executives said their company spent at least 5 percent of its IT budget explicitly on green IT initiatives. More than one third said their spending is at least 15 percent of the IT budget, and 14 percent said that at least a quarter of their IT budget was earmarked for these expenditures.

Once you understand that Green IT is about organization efficiency as much as energy efficiency, you’lll see anything that makes business processes run better – and leaner – falls under the Green IT umbrella.

That could mean specializing in growth areas such as server and storage virtualization and cloud computing technologies. Today, no other technology talent is more highly prized than the ability to consolidate, optimize, and right-size big and expensive data centers that are operating inefficiently. Along those same lines, distributed networking, power management, data center design, remote data archiving, and management of remote hosted services are all skills that should keep you in good stead – not only today but in years to come – as more corporate computing moves from the servers in the basement to the cloud. There’s also the opportunity to become the guiding force behind new ways of doing business, such as telecommuting, mobile access to company data, and videoconferencing and telepresence technologies.

Software developers will find work creating front-end interfaces to virtualized systems and managed services, and designing automation schemes to keep server loads optimally distributed at all times. And as new environmental compliance rules from the federal government start to kick in, compliance experts will be in demand to advise on everything from low-emission building materials and recycling to alternative energy technologies.

The truth, of course, is that successful green IT initiatives lead to more streamlined and automated technology, which needs less staff to maintain. If IT can do more with less, it will. Your goal is to be in the position to help design that green IT future – and not be left behind with the old IT guard intent on protecting its increasingly outdated legacy systems.