6 Steps to Build a Career in Sustainability

Are you passionate about a sustainable future and eager to turn that into a fulfilling career? You’re in the right place. This guide provides a step-by-step roadmap to building a meaningful career in the burgeoning field of sustainability, suitable for both newcomers and experienced professionals.

Sustainability offers a vast array of opportunities, accommodating a diverse range of skills and backgrounds. So, if you’re keen to swap a routine job for one that aligns with your values and offers positive impact, look no further.

career options in sustainability

Why settle? With the growing focus on sustainable practices, now is the perfect time to align your career with your convictions. Get ready to embark on a fulfilling journey that pairs your professional goals with meaningful action. Your new path starts now.

Is it Hard to Find a Job in Sustainability?

No, it’s not hard to find a job in sustainability due to the growing interest in the field. However, many of these jobs do require specific skills. For example, some roles may need a strong background in science, technology, engineering, or math, while others may look for business know-how related to sustainable practices.

Don’t expect to land a job easily by training in “sustainability” as such. You need to think about developing marketable, generic skills. According to Prerana Tirodkar from GreenBiz, “students graduating with sustainable development, climate science and environmental policy degrees still struggle to find suitable job opportunities.”

There are many places to look for jobs, from nonprofits to corporate settings, but competition can be tough. Having the right educational background, like relevant degrees or certifications, can give you an edge. Practical experience, which you can gain through internships or volunteering, is also highly valued.

Networking plays a big role in landing a job in sustainability. Many opportunities come from knowing someone in the field. So, while there are more and more jobs available, they often require a mix of specialized skills, including technical expertise, an understanding of relevant policies, and a knack for business strategy.

Steps to Start a Sustainability Career

For a realistic shot at a successful career in environmental sustainability, here are six steps to follow. This strategy recognizes that, leaving examples like Greta Thunberg aside, serious skills are normally needed to make an impact.

1. Choose the right degree

Enroll in a degree program that matches your area of interest in sustainability, such as environmental science, engineering, or business.

For example, if you’re focused on renewable energy, a degree in electrical engineering would be suitable. For corporate sustainability, a business degree may be more relevant.

Refer to the list of sustainability jobs in this article for green career path ideas.

2. Consider advanced education

Further specialize your skills by considering a Master’s degree related to your sustainability goals.

Master’s programs usually include courses on topics like strategic planning, energy management, and policy, preparing you for higher-level roles in the sector.

3. Network and gain experience

Use platforms like LinkedIn to connect with professionals in the field. Seek out internships or volunteer roles in sustainability-focused organizations to gain practical experience and build a robust professional network.

4. Develop soft skills

Focus on essential interpersonal skills such as leadership, effective communication, and project management.

You can practice these skills in your academic projects, during internships, or in volunteer roles to make you more appealing to employers.

5. Seek practical experience

Actively look for internships, co-op programs, or entry-level positions that align with your sustainability interests.

This real-world experience will not only enhance your resume but will also help you establish valuable industry connections.

6. Continue learning

Even after formal education, it’s important to stay current. Consider pursuing additional certifications or becoming a member of professional sustainability organizations.

Be ready to adapt to new challenges and opportunities in the sustainability field by continually updating your skills and knowledge.

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List of Sustainability Jobs

Getting a university degree is usually the first step in landing a sustainability job. Fields like ecology, environmental science, and engineering often call for a STEM background. However, business studies can also lead to roles in green marketing, consulting, and leadership.

Based on the article How to Build a Career in Sustainability from Lerna Australia, these are some of the best opportunities for a career focused on improving environmental outcomes.

1. Agronomist

With a background in Agricultural Science or Agronomy, an agronomist specializes in optimizing crop production through sustainable practices.

2. Ecologist

Holding degrees in Ecology or Environmental Science, ecologists offer valuable insights into biodiversity and conservation. They use field studies and data interpretation to formulate strategies for environmental preservation.

3. Energy Engineer

In this role, you’re at the forefront of clean technology, typically with a degree in Renewable Energy Engineering or Electrical Engineering. The focus is on harnessing renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydro.

4. Environmental Consultant

Environmental consultants provide advice on eco-friendly practices and often have degrees in environmental science, engineering, or geology. They assess risks, interpret data, and conduct field investigations.

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5. Environmental Engineer

Focusing on areas like water and air pollution control, these engineers usually have degrees in Environmental or Civil Engineering. They design projects that aim to harmonize human needs with planetary well-being.

6. Environmental Scientist

With a degree in Environmental Science, Biology, or Chemistry, an environmental scientist addresses complex issues like climate change, conservation, and pollution through rigorous research and data analysis.

7. ESG Analyst

This role is crucial in the financial landscape. With a background in Finance, Business, or Economics, an ESG analyst guides investments toward sustainability and responsible practices.

8. Marketing Manager

Focusing on green marketing, these managers often have degrees in Marketing or Digital Marketing. They analyze consumer behaviors to promote eco-friendly products and initiatives.

9. Policy Analyst

Typically having an educational background in Business, Engineering, Science, or Social Science, a policy analyst informs government policies and programs that promote sustainability.

10. Supply Chain Manager

In this role, responsibilities span from ethical sourcing to waste reduction. A degree in Business, With a background Logistics, or Supply Chain Management is often required.

11. Sustainability Consultant

In Sustainability, Environmental Management, or Business, a sustainability consultant helps businesses integrate eco-friendly practices into their operations.

climate change in sustainability reporting

12. Sustainability Manager

Leading organizations in sustainable operations, these managers generally hold degrees in Sustainability or Environmental Management. Their expertise helps guide businesses toward more eco-friendly practices.

13. Town Planner

These professionals shape sustainable communities, typically holding degrees in Urban and Regional Planning, Architecture, or Geography. They manage land use and adhere to construction codes and environmental regulations.

14. Urban Designer

With a focus on designing sustainable cityscapes, an urban designer usually has a background in Architecture, Environmental Design, or City Planning. They shape urban spaces while considering social, economic, and environmental factors.