Considering a career in sustainability? Here are some of the benefits:

  • You’ll be doing work that’s good for the planet, and helping preserve our environment for future generations.
  • It’s a growth industry. This means career opportunities.
  • Many sustainability jobs are highly varied and interesting.
  • If you don’t want to be in front of a screen all the time, there are a lot of green jobs available for you.
  • There are positions at a wide range of levels available, from entry/low skilled through to highly skilled roles.

Here are a few roles you may consider.

Solar PV System Installer (you probably thought of this)

Sustainability Careers and Green Jobs
Image by Maria Godfrida from Pixabay

The solar revolution kicked off in earnest around 10 to 15 years ago, and continues to grow.
Solar panels reliably supply power without the need to burn fossil fuels, and are being installed
in all countries.

A solar PV installer will install systems on rooftops, or may be involved in the installation of
large ground mounted systems. Depending on the country you are from there may be licensing
requirements. Cable connections to and from the inverter – the component that connects the solar
panels to the electrical grid – have to be undertaken by a licenced electrician.
If you start off as an assistant, there is a career path to becoming an electrician (involving study
and licensing).

With solar technology ever improving, this is a sector where there is lots of opportunity to learn.
A solar PV designer will undertake the electrical design of a system. Designers will usually be
using software tools to help with the design, and need an understanding of electrical engineering.
Smaller systems can be designed by electricians, larger systems usually require electrical
engineering expertise.

There are also career opportunities in equipment testing and certification, sales, and solar
business management. Upstream in the supply chain there are opportunities in assembly and
manufacture.

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Recycling Plant Technician (perhaps you thought of this)

Man installing wires on the roof - Green Jobs
Image by dayamay from Pixabay

Another green job you might consider is becoming a recycling plant technician. There are a
range of career paths. You could get involved in municipal recycling, which involves sorting,
crushing and packing material sent in for recycling, such as paper, plastics, etc. There are
opportunities in machine operation, machine maintenance, and the design and manufacturer of
recycling machinery. Additionally, with increasing focus on the circular economy, there are
opportunities in science and engineering to create and invent new processes to recycle and reuse
waste that would otherwise end up in landfill.

There are opportunities in recycling for mechanics, fabricators, maintenance technicians,
operators, chemists, biologists, engineers, researchers, managers, and others. Who knows, you
could become the next Isaac Newton in the recycling field!

Drone Operator / Engineer (gotcha – you didn’t think of this!)

Woman-calibrating-a-radar-system -Jobs in Sustainability
Image by David Mark from Pixabay

As we move from centralized energy grids, based on large coal or nuclear powered power
stations, to distributed energy resources (DER) new electricity networks are being built, and
energy generation equipment will increasingly be found in remote regions. When people need to
gather information in the field to inspect energy generation and transmission infrastructure, or for
monitoring wilderness areas, water pipelines, or similar, individuals usually need to travel from
one place to another. This process is not only time-consuming but also polluting. Unmanned
aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, can cut down the time required and amount of
pollution, and there are opportunities in this area for those who are tech savvy.

Working as a drone operator, you’d be responsible for operating and monitoring UAVs. It can be
like playing a video game, only the sights you see and the information you gather are real. Sadly
though if you crash your drone, sadly a few mouse clicks won’t restore it! Perhaps you can
become a top gun, famed for never crashing.

If you like coding, machine learning, AI, linear algebra and similar you may like to get into
semi-autonomous or autonomous drones, which you program to do tasks that might otherwise be
pretty boring (inspecting a powerline) but which are important in keeping remote solar and wind
farms operating. Or perhaps you can get into micro-drones, e.g. for inspecting air conditioning
ducts and equipment to enable maintenance to help it continue to operate at high efficiency.
There are also opportunities to create purpose built drones. Can you imagine building yourself
your own robot? Or coming up with new ways to combine hardware and software to help
achieve sustainability outcomes? It’s exciting and fulfilling at the same time.

Environmental Engineer/Scientist (an oldie but a goodie!)

Environmental Scientist developing a solution to chemical problems
Photo by RF._.studio from Pexels

Being an environmental engineer/scientist means you get to assess human activity and its effects
on the environment. From these environmental impact assessments, you design interventions to
control the damage, or to regenerate what was lost due to human behaviors.

You can choose a specialization if you want to focus more on air, soil, or water management.
You might even consider learning all, to broaden your career options.

There are opportunities in consulting leading projects, in research and in innovation.

Sustainability manager (and you thought this last job would also be a technical one)

 Sustainability Managers  talking in a laboratory
Image by RAEng_Publications from Pixabay

The last job on this short and incomplete list is to consider becoming a sustainability manager.
This career is one of the most rewarding yet one of the most challenging professions in
sustainability.

As a sustainability manager you’ll usually be working in a larger business, and taking
responsibility for helping the company become more sustainable. You’ll help your company
make more effective decisions leading to improved social, economic, and environmental
outcomes. You’ll likely collaborate or liase with the government, the community, and your
fellow experts. Your responsibility is to mitigate environmental problems, create interventions,
and suggest solutions to environmental concerns.

If you are looking to a new career, or starting out for the first time, it can be hard to decide which
way to go. In this article I’ve aimed to give you exposure to just a few of the many sustainability
careers, both those which are well established, and new and emerging careers.

These are only some of the many fulfilling green jobs in the sustainability industry. No matter
what you choose, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you are working for the good of
the environment, and all of us, by helping improve the health of our planet earth.

Are you looking forward to boosting your career? You might like our next article about the seven
habits to boost your sustainability career.

Get new Sustainability Jobs once a week in your inbox, and special offers on Sustainability Training

Coming in the next fortnight – don’t miss out – sign up now

1 thought on “5 Sustainability Careers and Green Jobs that Can Change the Planet and which you may not have thought of.”

  1. Cláudia Nóbrega

    Sustainability Education Academic empowers you to boost for a more inclusive-social-sustainable world. You can create a better world.

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