Chart: Clean energy jobs are booming. What sectors are growing most?

Plus, nearly half of the new clean energy jobs don’t require a bachelor’s degree, and most pay more than the national median salary.

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(Grid Alternatives)
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Canary Media’s chart of the week translates crucial data about the clean energy transition into a visual format.

More than 120,000 new clean energy jobs were created in the U.S. in 2021, according to research from trade group Advanced Energy United (formerly Advanced Energy Economy). Two sectors dominated job growth in what the group calls advanced energy”: Nearly half of the new positions — 48 percent — were in energy efficiency, and 31 percent were in electric vehicles.

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The energy-efficiency field — which includes positions such as HVAC mechanic and building operations manager — has long made up the lion’s share of clean energy employment. More than 2.1 million people worked in the sector in 2020, and nearly 58,000 jobs were added in 2021

The electric-vehicle sector, on the other hand, is newly ascendant. It was by far the fastest-growing segment in terms of employment in 2021 — up 28 percent from the previous year, compared to a 4 percent average for all categories covered by the report. It added nearly 37,000 jobs in 2021.

Distributed solar (think rooftop solar) came in third with almost 13,000 new jobs. Large-scale renewables created nearly 8,000 positions. Energy storage and grid tech were the smallest job creators, with fewer than 3,000 new jobs each. 

The report found that 42 percent of all these new jobs in 2021 — more than 50,000 total — required less than a bachelor’s degree, and most of them had median salaries above the 2021 national median of $45,760.

We can expect to see a lot more new clean energy jobs in the U.S. going forward thanks to the 2021 infrastructure law and the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, which have set the stage for massive industry growth in the coming years,” the report notes.

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Maria Virginia Olano is editorial and research associate at Canary Media.