6 ways to start your career in sustainability

The route towards a career in sustainability will not look the same for everyone. Everyone is destined for a unique path depending on many factors like interests, age, opportunities available, etc. Let’s get into it and find out all the possibilities for your future in sustainability. Have you freshly graduated from high school and know that you want to pursue a future in sustainability? Congratulations! Now, how far ahead have you thought about it? Well, consider asking the following:

Ask yourself these questions

  1. How much do I actually know about sustainability?
  2. What are my areas of interest?

    • Climate change
    • Corporate social responsibility (CSR)
    • Ecological or environmental justice
    • Environmental Health
    • Environmental protection
    • Environmental, social, and governance (ESG)
    • Energy efficiency
    • Food systems
    • Habitat restoration
    • Land use/zoning
    • Oceans
    • Renewable energy
    • Parks, green space
    • Transportation (urban mobility, sustainable transportation, active transportation)
    • Waste/materials management
    • Water, wetlands
  3. Why do I want to work in sustainability?

    • Do I want to change the world?
    • Do I want to improve animal welfare?
    • Do I want to combine science with sustainability?
    • Do I like to solve problems using creative ways?
  4. Do I know anyone in the sustainable field or know any associations I could join?

These are only a sum of the questions you could ask yourself to start generating ideas. Once you have figured out what inspires you, also think about what sector this line of work would be in. There are three types of organizations: the private sector, the public sector and the third sector. This is important to consider because each sector differs in terms of organizational structure, the pace of work, reward, etc. It just depends on what your preferences are and which organization meets your values.

Sustainable Degrees

Curious about what kind of sustainable degrees exist out there? Here is a list of degrees you could potentially dive into:

If you want to read more in-depth about the types of sustainability degrees, I would highly recommend visiting this page. They also have a nice list of sustainability degrees by state.

Jobs you could pursue with a Sustainability Degree

Are you curious like me and wondering what jobs you could get with a sustainable degree? Listed below are just some of the many examples!

  • Sustainability Director
  • Supervisor of Production and Operating Workers
  • Financial Analyst
  • Sustainability Coordinator
  • Engineering Project Manager
  • Environmental Manager
  • Sustainability Officer
  • Science Teacher
  • Production Designer
  • Community Organizer
  • Corporate Social Responsibility Manager
  • Data Analyst
  • Lobbyist/Director of Advocacy/Legislative Director
  • Communications Specialist, Coordinator, or Director
  • Policy Associate or Analyst
  • Research Assistant or Director

No Sustainable Degree? No problem

Are you, not a high school graduate anymore looking to study? That’s totally okay! As I said previously, each person will have a unique career path. Although in some situations it can be advantageous to have a degree in sustainability, it shouldn’t stop you from pursuing your dream career! My goal is to facilitate you to find a career within sustainability or even to simply open your eyes to new possibilities. Whether you are 25 or 45, sustainability isn’t going anywhere! In fact, sustainability is becoming a growing trend and jobs in this field are increasing.

You do have to identify your area of expertise. What are you good at and how can you translate that into sustainable work? To make it a bit easier, also think about which sustainability pillars appeal to you the most.

  • Economic sustainability: practices that support long-term economic growth without negatively impacting social and environmental aspects. This can be in the form of organic farming, and green and socio-economic enterprises.
  • Social sustainability: promotes the well-being of people. Think of employees, workers in the value chain, customers and local communities. This can be in the form of a company-sponsored education fund, healthcare initiative or team-building retreat.
  • Environmental sustainability: these are sustainable processes that promote meeting human needs without jeopardizing the planet and future generations. This can be in the form of conserving natural resources, protecting ecosystems and supporting health and well-being.

Hopefully, at this point, you have considered all the factors and come to a better understanding of your inner passions. If you can’t decide between the three pillars that’s completely understandable! But don’t worry too much because these three pillars have a lot in common. They are intertwined and typically work with each other to create a fully sustainable future.

Non-degree Sustainability jobs

  • Weatherization
  • Urban farming
  • Firefighting
  • Forest and conservation
  • Recycling
  • Wind and solar technician
  • Ecotourism guide
  • Green construction
  • Smart grid and green HVAC
  • Content creating

Here is what you should be doing!

If you know where your passion lies and have amazing ideas, tell someone! Does your niche not exist? Get people involved and share your narrative! Other things you could do to get closer to your dream job includes:

  • Intern at your dream company
  • Volunteer work – build your portfolio and gain experience
  • Initiate green(er) solutions at your local community/office/etc
  • Join sustainable groups and associations – build connections!
  • Join sustainable webinars – ask the questions you can’t find answers to

Summary

  1. Clarify your top areas of interest
    Careers in sustainability are very diverse. It helps to tie together your passion, education or area of expertise to establish where your talents would be best used.
  2. Understand the sectors
    Learn the difference between the public, private and third sectors. Each sector has its own unique approaches to working around sustainability. Find out which sector represents your needs and values the most.
  3. Focus on your strengths
    Reflect on your skills and strengths, what kind of work do you enjoy the most? Do you have skills you can transfer into sustainability sectors?
  4. Identify your target organizations
    Identify the organizations that match your interest and potential roles you could fill. Find out more about what they do and sometimes you can even subscribe to their newsletters to get the latest updates and possibly also career openings.
  5. Gain experience
    Found an interesting sustainable event or opportunity to volunteer? Grab all the opportunities that you can grasp. Not only are you strengthening your skills, but it’s also a gateway to making connections and gaining clarity on what roles you are and you aren’t interested in.
  6. Build connections
    You have nothing to lose by reaching out to people. If anything, it shows that you are curious and want to learn. On top of that, strong relationships can lead to job opportunities, as people are more likely to recommend or hire people they know, like and trust.

Extra Special Sites!

Job sites


Corporate Social Responsibility


Environmental Sustainability


Non-profits


Policy & Public Affairs

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Nieuwsbrief

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