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Forced to think about a career change? Here are some greentech job links

One of the best Christmas gifts that my husband and I could have received came in the form of news last night from one of his childhood friends that she's going to be starting a new job after the New Year. She has been out of work for several months now and although her compensation situation will be entirely commission-based, it's better than nothing and it does come with some pretty excellent healthcare coverage for her and her three girls.

One of the best Christmas gifts that my husband and I could have received came in the form of news last night from one of his childhood friends that she's going to be starting a new job after the New Year. She has been out of work for several months now and although her compensation situation will be entirely commission-based, it's better than nothing and it does come with some pretty excellent healthcare coverage for her and her three girls.

One down, two to go.

I was personally lucky enough to lose my last "real" job more than 18 months ago, so I had time to get back on my feet before the economy turned really mean and nasty like the weather outside today. Although I'm not an expert in career advice, I'm telling all my out-of-work friends, who were previously working in very traditional industries, to take a look at career opportunities in alternative energy and clean tech as they turn up the heat on their job searches. After all, Obama has promised something on the order of 5 million new cleantech and green tech jobs when he takes office. Even if it winds up being less than that, this is a sector that has much more promise than, say, a career in your local financial services company.

With full and complete credit, the goodly editorial team at GreenTech Media has pulled together a list of what it considers to the the top 10 green jobs for the coming year. Here's that list.

Of course, where you live will have a lot to do with how likely it is that you can make the green switch. Clearly, Silicon Valley as well as the Northwest are bending over backward to attract these sorts of jobs, as my post from back in November illustrates. But there are other states that could rejuvenate their local economies. An example is Tennessee, which has been plagued by a loss of manufacturing jobs all year. The state, and the town of Clarksville, got an early Christmas present in the form of a $3 billion planned investment by Hemlock Semiconductor, which is significant and important because the company could be a major player in solar panel production. Earlier this year, Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen and Nissan America CEO Carlos Ghosn announced that the Tennessee Valley Authority would plan a role in the development of a charging network for electric vehicles in middle Tennessee. The automobile maker also plans to start producing zero emissions vehicles in the state in 2010. I only know this because I am working on a report about the state's economy right now, but I am sure there are equally compelling stories in other states.

If you're a CEO-level or CIO-level type of person who's pounding the pavement for a new business card, you might want to consider the results of the 2008 DolmatConnell & Partners Alternative Energy and Clean Tech compensation study for some ideas. Here's the link to their Web site, the link to their report is actually broken as I write up this blog entry. But if you're the type of person that has questions to ask about this report, I'm sure the DolmatConnell people will have time for you.

The feedback is pretty much what you might expect: That is, many of the companies in this sector are young and/or privately held, and compensation policy tends to mirror that. If you're a CEO or a CFO at one of these companies, you can expect media bonus targets of 75 percent and 45 percent of your base salary, respectively. In this industry as most others, size matters: The bigger the company, the bigger the CEO compensation: For example, the base salary at companies with a market capitalization of less than $200 million is around $285,000, while the leaders of companies above a $200 million market cap can command $384,000.

About 20 percent of the several dozen companies considered by the DolmatConnell study were led by founder CEOs, who tend to receive less cash in terms of their compensation and more in the form of equity. Again, pretty much what you would expect. One big difference, though, among cleantech companies and other companies in the technology and life sciences sectors is that full-value shares are used almost as much as stock options as a form of compensation. Instant gratification, I suppose.