College Degrees for In-Demand Climate Careers
Students in college today have an opportunity to pursue degrees that prepare them for combating the effects of climate change. Degrees in environmental science aren’t the only path, either. Many programs incorporate sustainability, so students can follow their passions and have a positive impact at the same time. You can even get a degree in sustainability online.
Why Pursue a Degree in Sustainability?
Growing demand for people with environmental education and skills that help a business responsibly operate is one reason to dedicate your career to sustainability. The demand for green jobs comes from multiple sources. Investors and shareholders are growing to expect ESG (environmental, social and governance) criteria from the companies they invest in. As awareness about climate change and the social inequities it uncovers grow, consumers are demanding that businesses be held accountable. In turn, corporations are rethinking how they do business, considering the triple bottom line.
While green job demand may play a role in your decision to seek out a college degree program to prepare you for a job in sustainability, there are often other factors at play.
You might be interested in protecting the natural world, be passionate about energy equity, or have an interest in animal welfare. Or, you might have a knack for mathematics or art and want to apply your skills to green solutions. Ultimately, your unique culmination of life experiences and natural interests is a driving force for your green career success. Once you determine what motivates you, you can find a higher education avenue to get you there.
What Types of Green Jobs are There?
There are many job titles that focus on sustainability, or that involve sustainable principles in some capacity. Some common titles include:
- Sustainability coordinator
- Sustainability manager
- Sustainability director
- Chief sustainability officer
- LEED professional
- Environmental specialist
- Environmental scientist
- Urban planner
- Transportation specialist
- Project manager
- Environmental manager
- Procurement officer
- Policy analyst
- Business analyst
- Environmental lawyer
- Environmental engineer
- Supply chain manager
- Health and safety specialist
Sustainable College Degrees
You’ll find many high-paying and rewarding careers at the end of these sustainability studies.
Arizona State University
Learn more about this program on the Bigger Than Us podcast.
University of Washington
The University of Texas at Dallas
Learn more about sustainability at UTD from Director of Sustainability and Energy Conservation Gary Cocke on the Bigger Than Us podcast.
Columbia University in the City of New York
University of Iowa
Learn more about Environmental Economics from Fordham University Professor of Economics Marc Conte on the Bigger Than Us podcast.
University of Florida
University of Oregon
University of Pittsburgh
Learn more about these education and training opportunities from the H.J Zoffer Chair in Sustainability and Ethics at the Katz Graduate School of Business, University of Pittsburgh CB Bhattacharya on the Bigger Than Us podcast.
Harvard Extension School
This list is only the tip of the iceberg. Look for sustainability degree programs online and in your state and speak with the school staff to find the right program for you.
The Green Jobs Outlook is Bright
If you think sustainability is a second thought in today’s job market, think again. Goals to reach net zero goals are on the horizon for corporations, even big oil companies like BP, which will require people with skills to make the transition. Chief Sustainability Officer jobs bring sustainability to the executive level at corporations like Microsoft and Google. Amazon relies on a Sustainability Innovation Consultant to develop technology solutions that consider the United Nations sustainable development goals.
Beyond the corporate spotlights, job postings for roles and titles related to sustainability are on an upswing. LinkedIn saw a 10% increase in such job postings in 2019. People entering the workforce who completed sustainability studies increased 5% in the same year. Some industries are expected to see more growth than others. As a result, demand for industrial ecologists is estimated to increase twice as much as demand for fuel cell engineers—though both have higher than average growth expectancy.
Regardless of your career goals, there are ample opportunities to incorporate sustainability into your education and job.
If higher education isn’t a part of your plan but you want to help reduce reliance on fossil fuels, lower carbon outputs, or get involved in improving access to energy and resources, there are non-degree paths to make it possible.
- #169 Alison Blay-Palmer, UNESCO Chair on Food Biodiversity and Sustainability Studies - October 15, 2021
- #168 Corey Glickman, Vice President & Head of Infosys Sustainability & Design - October 8, 2021
- #167 Sharina Perry, CEO of Utopia Plastix - October 1, 2021