Jobs and Careers

What is the market for sustainability jobs?
Renewable energy business sectors and those with associated sustainability initiatives are among the fastest growing segments of the U.S. economy (Energy Information Administration, 2019Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020).   Scaling-up, many coastal cities and counties are hiring Sustainability and Resilience Officers (e.g., job postings, Office of Resilience, Miami Dade County).

One of the largest studies on CEO opinions of sustainability (UN Global Compact and Accenture, 2010) surveyed >750 CEOs in many countries, 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 interdisciplinary training to create and manage complex systems within a wide array of job markets.  Many new position titles relect these new fields in sustainability, examples inlcude:  Sustainability Director or Corporate Social Responsibility Manager or Resilience Officer.

Orange County, Florida, including Orlando, recently created the office of Chief Sustainability and Resilience Officer to work with the City of Orlando's large Office of Sustainability.  Various coastal cities and counties around the country are adding these types of positions. 

Job search engines now pull up many positions across diverse disciplines and work sectors, with specialities from corporate Sustainability Offices to engineering to environmental science consulting firms, to nonprofit organizations, in addition to many other businesses and government agency positions (city, state, national).  A STEM-based sustainability degree is also valuable for diverse graduate school programs in science, business, and engineering that can advance training and career placement in many career paths.  

What job search resources are available?
This resource is outstanding:  Careers in Sustainability  -  Arizona State Univ., School of Sustainability.  There are over 50 categorized job weblinks in this document.  Students with a sustainability degree have skills that apply to a wide and meaningful range of 21st century professions.  Additional websites for interesting jobs and careers include:

Why Green Is Your Color: A Woman's Guide to a Sustainable Career  This great 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

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