5 Career Paths to Consider If You’re Interested In Sustainability

Worldwide population is projected to grow to a whooping 9.8 billion by the year 2050.

Keeping this piece of information in mind, coupled with the expected rise of extreme weather, it’s unsurprising that there is now an increase in the demand for careers in sustainability.

What is Sustainability?

“Sustainability” can be defined as the science of how natural systems function, maintain diversity and how these systems produce all that it needs for the entire ecosystem to remain in balance.

Sustainability by it’s very nature also takes into account how humans can coexist harmoniously with our ecosystem, protecting it from destruction and damage.

The key feature or aim of sustainability is to find ways by which humans can reduce negative impact on the natural world, and it has become an integral aspect of how more individuals go about their lives and how organizations do business.

Universities, Colleges and other Higher education institutions now offer sustainability degrees, however it might be overwhelming trying to figure out a starting point. The complexity of finding a start is usually closely related to the fact that you may not find the term “Sustainability” attached to a particular job position — that is not to say that they do not exist; what you may want to do is to locate a target industry and find ways to integrate sustainability into a particular role.

To make it easier for you, I have curated a list of fields that will require innovative and skilled young professionals who have an interest in sustainability.

Sustainable Apparel Manufacturing

In recent years, the textile industry has grown to contribute to the global economy in a massive way, and with that, it’s contribution to waste has also seen an appreciable increase. A 2017 report by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, showed that a huge amount of textiles end up in landfills or are burned. There are other negative impacts of this industry which includes but isn’t limited to greenhouse emissions and land and pollution. However, these challenges have not gone unnoticed and as such companies are moving towards increasing their sustainability scores.

To succeed in a sustainability role in fashion, you need knowledge of ethical sourcing criteria and a grasp of the legalities associated with local and international trade.
A product sustainability specialist oversees the production process of goods and also ensures that it aligns with the quality and safety standards of the business. Knowledge of product development and supply chain expertise are crucial for success in this role. Degrees in fashion, textile science, sustainability or international human rights can offer the knowledge and skills needed for a career in this field.

Environmental Remediation Services

Environmental remediation is concerned with the cleanup of contaminated locations: typically this involves soil and water. usually, these contamination results from industry activity, spills or could be from the improper use of pesticides and chemicals.

This field is closely regulated by several government agencies and international bodies, and if you are to be a professional in Environmental remediation, it is of utmost importance that you stay abreast of recent regulation changes and facts. Being a specialist in remediation requires a high degree of meticulousness and one must pay strict attention to safety rules and guidelines. There are also various technologies and techniques that enable specialists to manage remediation effectively.

Specific careers in environmental remediation include compliance officers, cost estimators and conservation scientists. With a background in business or a related field, compliance officers bring knowledge of laws and regulations as they oversee the proper cleanup of contaminated areas. They also make sure workers have access to necessary protections and precautions to ensure their safety. Cost estimators need a degree in math or accounting and their main focus is collecting and analyzing data to help estimate the cost of remediation projects. Conservation scientists rely on data to identify pollution damage done to water and soil and monitor the proposed remediation process.

Transportation Sector

Despite significant recent growth in alternative modes of transportation, including bike share and electric scooters, the number of cars in the United States and the miles driven continue to increase. As such, the need for sustainable transportation has also increased. As the Department of Energy highlights, efforts to improve energy security and stave off the effects of climate change have led to transformation of the transportation sector through energy efficient vehicles. The growing demand for vehicles that save money and help the environment has increased the demand for qualified professionals who can make those vehicles. Opportunities in the field fall into three categories — design, manufacturing and maintenance — but the most sought-after ones are chemical, mechanical and electrical engineers. Because technology advances rapidly, regular re-training and certifications are necessary for success in the field.

Environmental Journalism

If along with being environmentally minded you also love research and writing, this career may be the right path for you. Environmental journalists spotlight major issues in conservation and remediation by collecting evidence and drafting reports. Their main responsibility is to educate the public on the current state of sustainability efforts and advocate for meaningful change. When necessary, environmental journalists act as watchdogs, highlighting environmentally harmful actions and finding evidence to encourage legal action. For success in the role, you need an understanding of environmental science, trends and issues, as well as the ability to communicate these in an easy to understand manner. Most environmental journalists focus on one specific topic — forestry, energy, air pollution, wildlife conservation, etc.


Agroforestry represents an attempt to protect natural resources and increase food production by combining the growth of trees and shrubs with crops and livestock. Agroforesters work closely with food scientists to identify the most effective way of helping the environment and ensuring healthy yields. The role is a mix between theoretical research and practical field work, and as such, potential candidates need a background in agricultural science, forestry, land management or environmental economics. Understanding of technological advancements is also a plus.

To access a network of like-minded professionals and learn more about opportunities in sustainability, check out the International Society of Sustainability Professionals. For better understanding of trends that will impact the next decade, review the Future of Sustainability 2019 report.

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