Sustainable Jobs: Places to Put Your Green Degree to Use

The first sustainability degree was offered by Arizona State’s School of Sustainability in 2007. Seven years later, many major universities have created their own programs. These sustainability degrees can fall under nearly ever academic discipline, from history to engineering and are offered as majors, minors, or even masters degrees.

However, this broad scope can sometimes make it difficult to narrow down your options in the business world. Here are four areas of business where your green degree sets you apart.

Design

From interior decorating to high fashion, the green movement has made its mark. The movement has revolutionized the materials and processing in industrial fields, and enhanced the recycling actions in others.

Whether your interest lies with solar-powered, self-sustaining houses, or fashionable and comfortable clothing created from recyclables, the design world is a great place for you to use your education in other fields, such as engineering and urban planning, hand in hand.

Corporate Innovation

More and more corporations are becoming aware of their environmental impact. Many of them are taking steps to increase their sustainability and decrease their dependence on traditional fuel options and environmentally hazardous procedures. Most of these corporations, however, don’t really know where to start.

Some have allocated manpower they already have to the task, but many are reaching out to individuals with training just like yours. Corporations are taking on sustainability consultants and creating directors positions within their company to take their sustainability efforts to the next level. These are particularly good job choices if you have a background in management, economics, business, or law.

Practical Sustainability

Many companies have transitioned toward more eco-friendly processes and policies. Waste collecting agencies, such as King Recycling and Waste Disposal, now ensure proper recycling of materials. Manufacturers, such as Plastic Free Bottles, create new products and processes to minimize the impact on the environment. Even food companies and breweries, such as New Belgium Brewing Company, are earning recognition for their green efforts.

Like major corporations, these companies are taking on consultants, engineers, and educators to aid in their quest for sustainability. The possibilities here are nearly endless—whether your interests are in improving agricultural processes, or designing alternatives to plastics, there is a company looking for someone with your skills and education.

Government

Some advances have been made in legislation and awareness, but that doesn’t mean there are fewer government jobs available for those with green degrees. If you’re interested in changing policies and putting your degree to work for the good of the people, there have never been more jobs working to assist lobbyists, nonprofits, and politicians than there are right now. Or, if you’re a bit more ambitious, becoming a lobbyist, organizing a nonprofit organization, or beginning a political career are also great options for your degree.

In 2012, there was speculation that students investing their time and money in sustainability degrees might be taking a significant risk. The growth since then has proved that the value of degrees which “promote human prosperity and well-being for all, while protecting and enhancing the earth’s life support systems” is irrefutable (definition provided by Arizona State’s School of Sustainability).