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How to Build a Career in Sustainability: 14 Jobs

Contribute to our planet's future in your career. Let's explore jobs promoting sustainable practices.

Professional man working with sustainable energy concepts

Looking for a purposeful career? Here's a guide to jobs that let you make a difference, even beyond the STEM fields. Dive into the world of sustainability careers and make a meaningful environmental impact. Let's explore!

Careers in Sustainability

To build a career in sustainability, a university degree is almost essential. Fields such as agronomy, ecology, environmental science, and engineering often require a STEM education. However, there are alternative paths, such as studying business, which can lead to green jobs in marketing, consulting, supply chain management, and sustainable leadership.

Here are 14 common jobs where you can make a positive impact on the environment.

1. Agronomist

Agronomists, often known as crop scientists, are the driving force behind sustainable agriculture. They combine knowledge of the natural sciences with practical agricultural techniques to optimise crop production. Their tasks may include studying plant and soil health, advising on crop rotation and pest control, and developing strategies to minimise environmental impact. By maximising productivity while preserving the environment, they contribute to food security.

Education: Agricultural Science, Agronomy. Salary: $92,073 per year from 46 observations.

2. Ecologist

Ecologists study organisms and their environment, providing crucial insights for conservation. Through their research in fields such as biodiversity, species conservation, and climate change impacts, they help formulate strategies for environmental preservation. Their work often includes field studies, data interpretation, and environmental impact assessments. The goal? To enhance understanding of ecosystems.

Education: Ecology, Environmental Science. Salary: $99,886 annually (40 salaries)

3. Energy Engineer

(Renewable) energy engineers spearhead the frontier of clean technology, using engineering principles to harness the power of energy sources like solar, wind, and hydroelectric. They design, test, and implement renewable energy systems, optimising them for efficiency. From drafting technical blueprints to overseeing the installation and maintenance of systems, their work ensures we capitalise on renewable resources.

Education: Renewable Energy Engineering, Electrical Engineering. Salary: $91,889 (n=12)

4. Environmental Consultant

Environmental consultants combine expertise from fields like environmental science, engineering, and geology to provide insightful advice. They interpret data, assess risks, advise on compliance, and often conduct field investigations. Whether developing environmental management systems or performing impact assessments, their mission is clear: to steer organisations towards eco-friendly practices.

Education: Environmental Science, Engineering, Geology. Salary: $104,136 (n=175)

5. Environmental Engineer

Environmental engineers fuse engineering and science to tackle key challenges. Areas of focus include water and air pollution control, waste disposal, and public health. They design and implement projects, assess potential construction impacts, and enhance recycling efforts. Functioning at times as consultants, they help businesses manage crises. Their end goal? Harmonising human needs with the planet's wellbeing.

Education: Environmental Engineering, Civil Engineering. Salary: $103,640 (n=29)

6. Environmental Scientist

Environmental scientists tackle environmental challenges using natural science expertise. Their work spans research, data analysis, and problem solving in areas like climate change, conservation, biodiversity, and pollution. Using fieldwork and lab research, they illuminate critical issues. Their findings inform policy, prompt solutions, and boost public awareness, all aimed at fostering a healthier, more sustainable planet.

Education: Environmental Science, Biology, Chemistry. Salary: $84,880 (n=50)

Related: Environmental Science Degrees Online

7. ESG Analyst

ESG analysts assess the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors of potential investments. Duties include examining corporate sustainability reports, conversing with company management, and keeping abreast of ESG trends and regulations. By making analytical insights, they guide investment decisions towards responsible and sustainable practices. They promote transparency in the financial landscape.

Education: Finance, Business, Economics. Salary: Investment analysts earn an average $111,729 (n=102)

8. Marketing Manager

Marketing managers who focus on green marketing develop strategies to highlight eco-friendly products and sustainable practices. By analysing data and consumer behaviours, they accentuate a company's dedication to green initiatives. Their role interconnects traditional marketing approaches with the growing demand for eco-conscious products, fostering an improved corporate image while prompting more sustainable consumer choices.

Education: Market, Digital Marketing. Salary: $103,968 on average (n=702)

Related: 5 Reasons to Get a Master’s in Marketing

9. Policy Analyst

Policy analysts conduct research to inform government policies, programs, and regulations that promote sustainability. They assess the impact and effectiveness of existing policies, identify gaps and opportunities, and recommend strategies for improvement. Analysts may focus on areas such as energy efficiency, transport regulations, renewables, waste management, air quality, climate change adaptation, and green housing programs.

Education: Business, Engineering, Science, Social Science. Salary: $89,338 (n=189)

10. Supply Chain Manager

Supply chain managers orchestrate the journey of goods, from suppliers to consumers. Their responsibilities span from logistics and inventory management to supplier relationships and distribution strategies. In a rapidly evolving world, they address waste reduction, energy efficiency, ethical sourcing, and product life cycle concerns. Their role strikes a balance between business objectives and responsible resource use.

Education: Business, Logistics and Supply Chain Management. Salary: $94,655 (113 salaries)

Related: Logistics and Supply Chain Management Courses

11. Sustainability Consultant

Sustainability consultants offer strategic direction to businesses, helping them integrate sustainable practices into operations. They provide guidance on energy efficiency, waste management, carbon footprint reduction, and other environmental concerns. Job activities include conducting audits, recommending improvements, and monitoring plan implementation. They aid the transition towards greener economies.

Education: Sustainability, Environmental Management, Business. Salary: $106,840 (n=21)

12. Sustainability Manager

Sustainability managers lead eco-conscious operations, driving sustainable practices in organisations. Their expertise spans energy efficiency, waste reduction, water conservation, and policy development. Responsibilities include tracking progress, reporting on green initiatives, and ensuring regulatory compliance. The goal? Guiding businesses towards sustainable operations. Some even serve multiple companies as sustainability consultants.

Education: Sustainability, Environmental Management, Business. Salary: $104,206 (n=404)

13. Town Planner

Town planners, also known as city or urban planners, breathe life into Australia's landscapes. Their role involves managing land use and conserving resources effectively. Daily tasks involve a dynamic mix of responsibilities, from forecasting population growth and updating infrastructure to adhering to construction codes and ensuring environmental regulation compliance. The ultimate objective? Laying the groundwork for sustainable community development.

Education: Urban and Regional Planning, Architecture, Geography. Salary: $94,715 in Australia (n=197)

Related: How to Become a Town Planner in Australia

14. Urban Designer

Urban designers are the architects of cityscapes in Australia. Integrating architecture, environmental design, and city planning, they shape urban spaces to optimise both practical use and ecological balance. Their work often involves designing new neighbourhoods, reinvigorating existing spaces, and planning major infrastructures. By accounting for social, economic, and environmental factors, they help transform cities into more liveable, environmentally-friendly spaces.

Education: Urban Design, Architecture. Salary: $101,000 (n=129)

Related: What Does an Urban Designer Do?

Is there Money in Sustainability?

Yes, sustainability is profitable. When businesses adopt sustainable practices, they see cost savings from improved efficiency. Energy conservation, waste reduction, and water-saving measures can significantly cut expenses.

Embracing eco-friendly practices can also enhance product quality, in turn elevating a brand's reputation and sales. Many investors seek out sustainable investments. Additionally, with an ever-tightening global environmental regulatory landscape, companies adopting these practices are better able to sidestep penalties and comply with emerging regulations.

Occupation Indicative Salary Commercial and Resource Benefits
Agronomist $92,073 Boosts yields, reduces costs via efficient crop management, improving agricultural profit margins.
Ecologist $99,886 Enables better land use, reducing potential legal issues and associated costs tied to environmental impacts.
Energy Engineer $91,889 Reduces energy costs and reliance on non-renewable energy sources, providing long-term savings.
Environmental Consultant $104,136 Mitigates environmental risks, avoiding potential fines, litigation, and reputational damage.
Environmental Engineer $103,640 Designs efficient systems reducing operational costs and environmental liabilities.
Environmental Scientist $84,880 Informs policy to avoid regulatory fines and creates plans for resource use reduction, lowering expenses.
ESG Analyst $111,729 Directs investments toward sustainable entities, reducing financial risk and capturing growth in green sectors.
Marketing Manager $103,968 Enhances brand reputation, customer loyalty and can command higher prices for sustainable products/services.
Policy Analyst $89,338 Shapes cost-effective and sustainable policies, driving government efficiency and effectiveness.
Supply Chain Manager $94,655 Optimises resource use, reduces waste and costs in the supply chain, enhancing profitability.
Sustainability Consultant $106,840 Streamlines operations for resource efficiency, reducing operational costs and enhancing resilience.
Sustainability Manager $104,206 Implements sustainable practices, cutting costs and meeting customer demand for sustainability.
Town Planner $94,715 Enhances land value, community appeal, attracting investment and fostering economic growth.
Urban Designer $101,000 Designs liveable spaces, increasing property values and attracting investment and tourism.

Salary statistics sourced from sites such as au.indeed.com. Updated: 20 July 2023.

The expanding field of 'green jobs' underscores the financial advantages of eco-conscious choices. As the need for specialists in sustainability increases, so does the potential for earnings. High-paying roles in environmental consulting, renewable energy engineering, and environmental science affirm that indeed, there is significant financial opportunity.

How Do I Become a Sustainability Specialist?

Green shoot pushing through moss

Becoming a sustainability specialist normally begins a solid foundation in a relevant undergraduate field. This might be environmental science, engineering, business, or a similar discipline.

Different areas of specialisation require varying skill sets, so it's important to tailor your educational path to your specific interests. For example, if you're interested in renewables, a renewable energy course, such as a degree in electrical engineering, would be suitable. If corporate sustainability is your goal, a business-related degree could be more relevant.

To further capitalise on your education or switch careers, consider postgraduate sustainability courses. Degrees like a Master of Sustainable Leadership or Master of Sustainable Energy provide advanced knowledge and skills, preparing you for leadership roles within the sustainability sector. These programs often cover strategic planning for sustainability, energy management, and policy, among other topics.

Obtaining practical experience is key. Look for opportunities to work on relevant projects, whether through internships, co-op programs, or entry-level positions. Through a combination of education, practical experience, and continued learning, you can build a rewarding sustainability career.