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Report: Top 15 U.S. metro areas for cleantech jobs

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In a new report, California and Texas dominate the cleantech jobs market. Meanwhile, Massachusetts and Colorado are gaining ground.

So, the clean tech industry of today (or is it tomorrow) still looks a lot like the info-tech industry of the past, at least when it comes to geographic location.

Northern California still dominates the cleantech employment outlook, according to the Clean Tech Job Trends 2010 report published by research firm Clean Edge. But the future is uncertain, pending the results of the state's controversial Proposition 23, which would freeze provisions of California's clean air act until the unemployment rate drops below a certain level.

Here are the Top 15 metro areas in the United States, as compiled by Clean Edge:

  1. San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose - California
  2. Los Angeles, Long Beach, Riverside - California
  3. Boston, Cambridge, Quincy - Massachusetts, plus New Hampshire
  4. New York City (and Long Island), Northern New Jersey
  5. Denver, Aurora, Broomfield - Colorado
  6. Washington, Arlington, Baltimore - The District of Columbia, Virginia, Maryland
  7. San Diego, Carlsbad, San Marcos - California
  8. Houston, Sugar Land, Baytown - Texas
  9. Chicago, Joliet, Naperville - Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin
  10. Austin, Round Rock, San Marcos - Texas
  11. Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue - Washington
  12. Atlanta, Sandy Springs, Marietta - Georgia
  13. Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington - Texas
  14. Portland, Vancouver, Hillsboro - Oregon, Washington
  15. Sacramento, Arden, Arcade, Roseville - California

The city to make the biggest leap up on the list was Houston, which was at the bottom of the ranking last year. The area's strongest cleantech opps lie in biofuels and wind development; Houston also is the nation's top municipal purchaser of green power (all of it wind power). The city is No. 4 on the U.S. Environment Protection Agency's Green Power purchasers list, nationwide.

Generally speaking, the cleantech industries generating the most jobs are associated with Energy (including renewable energy, energy storage, smart grid developments), Transportation (including all the activity around electric vehicles and advanced transportation infrastructure), Water (including desalination technologies and smart water usage and conservation technologies), and Materials (biomimicry and other bio-based materials, as well as reuse and recycling).

What can you expect to be paid for your clean tech expertise? The report also contains a comprehensive of median salaries that was compiled by Clean Edge and Payscale. They range from $37,700 for a solar energy systems installer to $91,500 for a senior mechnical engineer for electric vehicles.

So how many jobs are we talking? Clean Edge does a good job of estimating this based on all the various resources available and it believes the number is something like 3 million jobs and counting. The challenge, of course, is that many of the companies creating these jobs are small businesses. So, the jobs are gained gradually and organically, which isn't going to offset our unemployment rate all that quickly. The other spectre: The idea that China will claim jobs that could otherwise be local. You snooze, you lose?

Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure