InTrans / Dec 12, 2009

Careers in sustainable transportation

Go! Magazine

Wind farm

posted on December 12, 2009

So you want to earn some green while going green? Below are a few careers related to sustainable transportation and how you can get into them.

Shipping and Receiving Operator

Most ethanol produced in the U.S. is made from corn grown in the Midwest. After it’s made, ethanol must be transported to gas stations around the country. A shipping and receiving operator keeps track of what goes into a warehouse and what goes out. If a shipping and receiving operator works for a company that transports corn and ethanol, he or she might:

  • prepare shipping documents and mailing labels
  • record items taken from inventory
  • unload and test the raw materials (corn) from trucks and railcars
  • test and weigh the finished product (ethanol)
  • load the ethanol for delivery
  • oversee maintenance and repair of shipping and receiving equipment


This job requires a high school diploma or a GED and experience working with industrial machines and loading equipment like forklifts and front-loaders.


As of April 2009, the average shipping and receiving operator salaries were between $27,798 and $35,602 per year, according to

Learn more

You can read more about working as a shipping and receiving operator on the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Occupation Outlook Handbook website.


A microbiologist is a scientist who studies microbes. (If you read this month’s article “How sweet it is: Fermenting sugar to create biofuel,”? then you’ll remember that the key ingredient in ethanol is yeast, and yeast is a microbe). A microbiologist working with ethanol conducts experiments with the fermentation process to develop new ways to make biofuels. For example, a microbiologist might discover or create new enzymes to efficiently break down the sugars in different types of plant materials so they can be turned into ethanol.


Getting a job in this field usually requires a master’s degree in microbiology. A master’s degree takes approximately 2 additional years after majoring in microbiology, cell biology, or biochemistry at a 4-year college. You will learn about cell culture, fermentation process development, bacterial cell culture, and microbial physiology.


Average microbiologist salaries in 2006 were between $43,850 and $80,550, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Your salary will depend on whether you work for the government, a research university, a private organization, or research institute and will increase as you get more experience.

Learn more

You can read more about careers in microbiology on the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Occupation Outlook Handbook website.

Logistics management for offshore wind farms

A logistics manager working with wind turbines makes sure parts get from the factory to the wind farm on schedule. You’ll work with sophisticated computer software to economize every step of the supply chain, from the purchasing of parts by manufacturers, to the production line, to the transport of the parts, to the installation of the wind farms.


To work in logistics management, you will need a bachelor’s or master’s degree in supply chain management, logistics management, or business logistics. The bachelor’s degree can usually be completed in four years, while the master’s usually requires an additional two years. You will learn about different methods of transportation, importing and exporting, and many other behind-the-scenes aspects of getting products, including wind turbines, to where they need to go.


Logistics management is a highly paid profession, and because management of offshore wind farms is highly specialized, you can expect to make more than the average. As of November 2009, the middle 50% of logistics managers earned between $76,981 and $109,196 per year, according to

Learn more

You can read more about logistics management at

Diesel retrofitter

A diesel retrofitter is an automotive mechanic who works to decrease emissions levels for a fleet of vehicles. The goal is to create cleaner-running diesel vehicles, especially for fleets such as long-haul trucking and construction vehicles. Some responsibilities for a diesel retrofitter include:

  • Analyzing a fleet inventorylogging exhaust data
  • Understanding how to regenerate a diesel particulate filter (DPF)
  • Understanding cleaning requirements for a DPF
  • Selecting and installing the appropriate retrofit technology and parts
  • Doing regular maintenance on the retrofitted vehicles


To specialize as a diesel retrofitter, you generally need a background in automotive technology. Trade programs at community colleges and private academies offer diplomas and two year degrees. After training in automotive technology, you can generally get training as a diesel retrofitter from the retrofit supplier. Most suppliers provide training to fleet mechanics as part of a parts purchasing agreement.


Average diesel retrofitter salaries are between $36,000 and $59,000 per year, according to Green Careers Guide. Factors such as continued education, licenses and certifications held, years of experience, and union membership will affect your annual earnings.

By Bennett Stone, Go! Staff Writer

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