Transitioning to a Green Career

Career Development

This guide is for individuals seeking to transition into an environmentally conscious, green career. It covers various aspects, including understanding green career opportunities, acquiring relevant skills, networking in sustainability sectors, and tailoring resumes for green roles.


Green skills for a sustainable future
In demand green skills for trade professionals
The heat pump industry
Retrofit coordination and design
Smart meter installation and energy assessment
Refrigeration and ventilation
Electricity and renewable energy for plumbers
Detection and removal of asbestos

As the UK works towards net-zero emissions by 2050, the demand for green skills is surging across various industries. Retraining in green skills offers skilled tradespeople the chance to thrive in a growing job market while contributing to a sustainable future.

This guide highlights six key green career areas with anticipated high demand. But the importance of green careers and skills extends to almost all trades and businesses. Whether you’re an experienced professional or considering a career change, investing in green skills can open doors to new opportunities and help secure a brighter, greener future for all.

If you’re unsure what ‘green skills’ are – you may find it useful to check out our Green Skills Guide and our Green and Net Zero Industry Careers Guide before starting!

There is an increasing demand for green skills in industries across the UK. With the UK government committing to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, there is more demand than ever for green skilled workers in a wide range of areas including renewable energy, energy conservation and retrofitting properties.

If you’re currently a skilled tradesperson looking to take your career to the next level, or if you’re thinking about making a career change, learning an in-demand green skill could be an excellent choice to start your green career.

The Government’s Green Job Delivery Group aims to deliver almost half a million skilled green jobs by 2030. By retraining in green skills, not only will you be positioning yourself with valuable expertise in a growing area of the job market, you’ll also be contributing to a more sustainable future.

Of course, making a career change is never easy and retraining for a green skill is no exception. It requires careful consideration and planning. You’ll need to research the job market, identify the skills you need to acquire, and determine the best training or education path that works for you and your personal situation.

This is where this guide comes in. We’re going to look at six of the main areas where green skills are in high demand, and where retraining can be beneficial for both your career and the planet.

Heat pumps are an important innovation that are helping in the fight against climate change.

A heat pump heats a building by transferring energy from the ground or air around a property. They do require electricity to work, but they typically produce up to 300-400% of the amount of energy that they consume.

A heat pump positioned outside of a building

Heat pumps require significantly less energy to operate and produce significantly fewer carbon emissions than a typical gas or combination boiler.It’s estimated that replacing a gas boiler with a heat pump could reduce the carbon emissions of a building by up to 70%.

Another thing that makes heat pumps great is their versatility. They can actually be used to provide both heating and cooling, which makes them a great choice for UK homes that struggle with cold winters and periods of warm weather in the height of summer.

If net-zero targets are going to be achieved by 2050, the International Energy Agency recommends the gradual phasing out of gas boilers.

If this guidance is followed it obviously paves the way for a huge increase in demand for renewable energy sources, including heat pumps. So there’s likely to be a high demand across a variety of job roles in the heat pump industry in the coming years.

Heat Pump Installation and Maintenance

A heat pump engineer is responsible for the installation and maintenance of heat pump systems, and is a great option for moving towards a green career.

There are a number of ways to become skilled as a heat pump engineer, and the requirements vary depending on whether you’re specialising in air source or ground source heat pumps.

The important thing to note is that you will want to become certified by the MCS (micro generation scheme) as a heat pump engineer. This offers consumers a guarantee on the quality of your work, and means that they can register their heat pump for the MCS if it’s installed by you.

With the shortage of skilled workers in this area, a lot of companies are covering the costs of training as part of the role for any skilled tradespeople that have more than two years commercial plumbing experience and have their Gas Safe OFTEC, MCS, and HETAS registration.

So this might be the best route into a role as a Heat Pump Engineer if you’re already working in a relevant skilled trade.

TOP TIP: Another option if you’re currently working as an electrician or plumber is to obtain your City & Guilds Level 3 Qualification in Installation, Service and Maintenance of Environmental Technology Systems.

Heat Pump Design Engineer

Rather than installing and maintaining heat pump systems, this role is responsible for surveying properties and designing heat pump systems that meet the project requirements and budgets.

There is a lot more experience and qualifications needed to become a Heat Pump Design Engineer.

Most job roles are looking for:

  • 2+ years experience of working in the heat pump sector
  • A degree in engineering
  • Experience with AutoCAD or other design software

If you want to improve your career opportunities, there are specialist qualifications for the design of heat pumps. But to be eligible to study for a ‘Design of Heat Pumps’ qualification, you need to meet a list of requirements that include a nationally recognised qualification in plumbing or heating, on the job experience, and a valid Water Regulations and Unvented Hot Water certificate.

If you’re looking to make a difference in the fight against climate change, you might consider looking into retrofitting – one of the most import green career areas over the next 20 years.

Retrofitting involves upgrading the energy performance of existing buildings through the installation of energy-efficient solutions like insulation, double glazing and renewable energy systems.

It’s estimated by the UK Green Building Council that in order for the UK to meet their 2050 net zero target, 1.8 homes need to be retrofitted every minute.

Retrofit Coordinator

There is currently an initiative led by the Retrofit Academy CIC to train 200,000 new retrofit coordinators across the UK by 2030. There’s clearly a lot of potential career opportunities here.

Retrofit Academy Logo

If you’re curious about the route to becoming a certified retrofit coordinator, you should be aware of the PAS 2030:2019 certification and the latest specifications that retrofits should comply with under PAS 2035. An article at BuildPass gives a really good overview.

TOP TIP: If you want to retrain as a retrofit coordinator, Retrofit Academy has a list of courses available at all levels.

An increasing number of homeowners and small businesses are recognising the importance of using energy wisely, both for the environment and to better manage their energy bills.

Smart meters are an important technology for helping to achieve this. They provide real-time information on energy consumption and it’s estimated that three quarters of people that have a smart meter installed have reduced their energy usage.

Smart Meter Installation and Maintenance.

A smart meter installer, is responsible for installing and maintaining smart meters in residential and commercial properties.

With over 30.3 million smart meters installed in homes and businesses across the UK, there’s likely to be a high demand for maintenance and upgrades of the technology in the coming years.

To become a smart meter installer, it will help if you’ve got experience and qualifications in gas or electricity installations. But some companies are happy to take on trainee smart meter installers.

In terms of certification and training, LCL Awards have a comprehensive syllabus for anyone currently working for an energy supplier that has access to supervised workplace practice.

Energy Assessor / Energy Advisor

Energy assessors play an important role in the mission to help reduce carbon emissions. They evaluate the energy performance of existing buildings, identifying areas where energy efficiency can be improved.

There are two routes of specialism within Energy Assessment.

TOP TIP: To become an Energy Assessor, as a minimum you’ll need to hold a Level 3 Certificate in the relevant area of Energy Assessment. For a Non-Domestic Energy assessor it’s also recommended that you hold a Level 4 certificate. There is a wide range of information about relevant Energy Assessment courses and qualifications on the City & Guilds website.

Refrigeration and ventilation is an area where greenhouse gas emissions need to be carefully managed. Many refrigeration and air conditioning systems use hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) as a refrigerant. The problem with this is that HFCs are estimated to be up to 1400 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.

The F-Gas Regulations introduced by the UK Government set a target for 79% reduction in the use of HFCs between 2015 and 2030. The most harmful HFCs have already been banned and there are further bans on additional HFCs coming in 2025 and 2030.

It’s already a legal requirement for anyone working with equipment that contains HFCs to hold an F-Gas Certificate.

There are three current options for individual F-Gas certification:

If you’re interesting in doing wider training on how to become more sustainable in refrigeration and air conditioning, a recommended course is the City and Guilds Diploma in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning

As the world shifts towards more sustainable and eco-friendly solutions, the need for skilled tradespeople who can work across different disciplines is becoming increasingly important.

If you’re a plumbing and heating engineer, you’re likely to encounter an increasing number of systems that are powered by renewable energy in the coming years.

That’s why gaining an understanding of electricity and renewable energy is important for your continued career success and shift towards a green career.

There are plenty of courses available in locations across the country that can help plumbers gain a relevant electric qualification, including:

TOP TIP: If you’re interested in becoming more involved in the installation of renewable energy systems, consider a City & Guilds Level 3 Qualification in Installation, Service and Maintenance of Environmental Technology Systems.

Asbestos is a dangerous material that can lead to a number of health problems including lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

The problem with asbestos comes from the microscopic fibres that it is made up from. When they are disturbed they can become airborne. And when airborne fibres are inhaled they can become lodged in the lungs and cause damage over time, often without any immediate symptoms.

All types of asbestos have been banned for any building projects in the UK since 1999.

Although government regulations banned the use of asbestos in new projects, they didn’t insist that all previous asbestos was removed. This means that a lot of the asbestos that was used in construction during the 20th century is still present in many buildings today.

One of the biggest challenges when working in older buildings is that it’s not always clear whether or not asbestos was used in its construction. This poses a risk to anyone that may inadvertently disturb asbestos during their work, including construction workers, electricians and plumbers.

So if you’re employed in any skilled trade that might involve working in buildings that were constructed before 1999, it’s highly recommended to take an asbestos awareness course.

TOP TIP: The UK Asbestos Training Association (UKATA) has the most comprehensive asbestos awareness syllabus.

By taking an asbestos awareness course you’ll not only improve your career prospects but you’ll also be taking a proactive step to protect your health and safety, and that of others. The UKATA website provides all the information you need to get started.

There are also dedicated careers related to the safe removal of asbestos.

Asbestos Surveyors

Asbestos surveyors play a vital role in ensuring that any property renovation or demolition projects are completed safely. The role involves inspecting sites to identify if any asbestos is present, testing samples to determine the type and amount of asbestos, and recommending contractors for the safe removal of any asbestos that is found.

There are a variety of ways to to become qualified as an Asbestos Surveyor, but it’s typically recommended that you spend at least 6 months ‘in the field’ shadowing another surveyor before completing your RSPH Level 3 Award in Asbestos Surveying.

Asbestos Removal Specialist

Another role that is important in the management of asbestos is Asbestos Removal Specialist. In this role, you are responsible for safely removing and disposing of any building materials that contain asbestos.

The Asbestos Removal Contractors Association (ARCA) has a variety of different courses and training programmes for people at all entry levels.

The UK Asbestos Training Association website also offers a wide range of training courses and qualifications for asbestos surveyors and removal specialists. It also includes a database of career opportunities in the asbestos management industry.