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Jobs and Careers

What is the market for sustainability jobs?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have data on the number of workers involved in sustainability activities but there is evidence of increasing opportunities for those trained in sustainability-related technical positions (USBLS, 2012).  The Economic Policy Institute recently examined private and public sector markets for sustainability-related jobs with these conclusions:  green jobs go far beyond renewable energy, states with more developed sustainability policies fared better in the economic downturn, and manufacturing plays a strong role in the green economy (EPI, 2012).

One of the largest studies on CEO opinions of sustainability has recently been produced (UN Global Compact and Accenture, 2010).  Using a survey of >750 CEOs, the summary includes the following findings:

  • 93% of CEOs believe that sustainability issues will be critical to the future success of their business.
  • 91% of CEOs report that their company will employ new technologies to address sustainability issues over the next five years.
  • 88% of CEOs believe they should integrate sustainability into supply chains.
  • 96% of CEOs believe that sustainability issues should be fully integrated into the strategy and operations of a company (72% in 2007).

Why types of jobs are there in sustainability? 
Sustainability professionals use well-developed interdisciplinary skills to create and manage complex systems within a wide array of job markets.  From a job-hunter’s perspective, Table 1 at the end of this document has dozens of occupational titles related to sustainability job searches from major sources. 

A considerable number of the position titles in Table 1 below represent diverse fields, a byproduct of the interdisciplinary backbone of applied sustainability.  Examples include the new occupational titles, Sustainability Director or Corporate Social Responsibility Manager.  Job search engines now pull up many such positions, with specialists from engineering to business to environmental or social nonprofit organizations.  Examples of the number and diversity of these jobs on university campuses alone are at Campus Sustainability Positions

Many of the lists of sustainability-related occupations in these and similar sources reflect the four concentrations of the Florida Tech sustainability curriculum:  Environmental Science, Business, Engineering and Technology and Social Sciences.

Sustainability is still emerging as a discipline –the job market is expanding in ways that are difficult to fully predict within current fields and still un-named fields that are arising now and in the future.  In systems science, these future jobs and occupations are examples of emerging properties, which arise from complex and expanding systems which can spin off new systems in both predictable and unpredictable manners (Meadows, 2008, Thinking in Systems).

Other Job-related Resources
Careers in Sustainability- Arizona State Univ. School of Sustainability

Many useful websites for a remarkable array of new jobs in sustainability are at this link. Students with a sustainability degree have skills that apply to a wide range of professions. A science-based sustainability degree is also valuable for graduate research. Examples of websites with interesting jobs and careers include: - Check it out real-time, examples retrieved in June 2018 include:

  • Business Development Coordinator - Cascadia Consulting Group - Seattle, WA
  • Manager, California Policy - Ceres - San Francisco, CA
  • Coordinator, Grant Management - Rainforest Alliance - New York, NY
  • Content Curator - Project Drawdown - Sausalito, CA
  • Associate, Clean Energy Management - CLASP - Washington, DC

Why Green Is Your Color: A Woman's Guide to a Sustainable CareerThis solid resource focuses on women but many of the fundamental ideas apply to all genders.

Forbes List of Six-Figure Green Jobs

  1. Chief Sustainability Officer (Chief Environmental Officer/ Chief Green Officer)
  2. Environmental Lawyer
  3. Environmental Engineer
  4. Climatologist/Environmental Meteorologist
  5. Renewable Energy Manager
  6. Environmental Specialist/Scientist
  7. Senior Urban Planner
  8. Commercial/Industrial Designer
  9. Conservation Scientist
  10. Senior Hydrologist

In addition, these broad sectors are often named in sustainability job listings:

  • Energy efficiency design and engineering
  • Climate adaptation
  • Energy efficiency financing
  • Renewable and fossil fuel energy engineering
  • Risk management
  • Social and environmental accounting
  • Coastal management
  • Carbon markets and trading
  • Greenhouse gas inventories