Sustainability is a growing trend in business and industry, especially post-COVID. As more and more companies develop new positions and roles to implement sustainable practices, careers in sustainability are increasing and becoming more lucrative.
When you think of high-paying jobs, it might not be at the top of your list, but working in sustainability can be well paid and even lucrative. Sustainability is a growing sector, and companies are creating positions to incorporate sustainability practices into their business models.
According to the World Economic Forum, careers in sustainability will “be at the center of the 21st century and will grow in millions.” Read on to learn about some high-paying jobs in sustainability!
Top Six Jobs in Sustainability
1. Sustainability Executive/Officer
Sustainability executives (also known as sustainability officers or directors) work on environmental and sustainability policies within a company or business. They look for opportunities to reduce a business’s environmental impact or champion green processes while being cost-effective.
They also train staff or departments or implement company-wide policies. According to Payscale, the average salary for a sustainability officer is $88,261, with more senior positions earning above $100,000. These positions exist in almost every industry, so it’s a great way for career changers to transition into a green job within a familiar field of work.
2. Environmental Engineers
Environmental engineers use technical principles to advise and provide sustainable solutions to challenges in environmental issues. They might specialize in land use, water, and air pollution control, waste disposal, and recycling and work with other engineers on construction projects or with urban planners on resource use. This job is critical for informing environmental policies and laws and ensuring compliance with local regulations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for an environmental engineer is $88,860.
3. Energy Analyst
Energy analysts (also known as energy auditors) focus on analyzing a business’s energy consumption and how to make it more efficient. Most businesses can reduce energy usage by around 20% by implementing upgrades and changing or adjusting processes, and energy analysts help identify and make recommendations for energy efficiency.
As more and more companies realize that going green is beneficial for the environment and can also result in cost-saving opportunities, this job will continue to grow in demand. An energy analyst can earn up to $80,000.
4. Urban and Regional Planner
Urban and regional planners develop land use, resources, and infrastructure plans and help officials solve social, economic, and environmental problems. They make recommendations for communities based on their goals and projected growth.
These planners ensure that local environmental regulations and policies are met, consider how to best retrofit existing infrastructure, and consider what transport, energy, waste disposal, and food systems will look like in the future.
An average annual salary is $74,350 per year. In the next ten years, the projected employment growth for urban and regional planners is almost three times the average growth rate for all occupations.
5. Agricultural and Food Scientist
The role of food in a sustainable system is hugely important, especially given the environmental costs of food production and the complex supply chains that hide environmental degradation, inequality, and social injustice.
Agricultural and food scientists research ways to improve the sustainability and productivity of farming practices, and according to BLS, this role is growing twice as fast as the national average. The food industry has responded to our complicated demands for organic, vegan, bycatch-free, GMO-free, locally-produced, or free-range products. Still, greenwashing and inconsistent food labeling has led to more confusion than clarity about what we are buying.
As the human population continues to increase, scientists are concerned about food security, resulting in research into new food sources. A new wave of superfoods are being cultivated in labs in Australia using marine microalgae, and the European Union food safety authority just declared that mealworms are safe for human consumption. This career has an average salary of $65,160 per year.
6. Environmental Lawyer
Environmental law is an important component of developing sustainable policies and regulations for businesses and governments. Environmental lawyers work for various clients and hold parties accountable for their impacts on the environment.
They typically work on cases that affect both the natural environment and vulnerable communities as they are often linked. Law firms specializing in environmental law like ClientEarth aim to implement systemic changes that protect the Earth and its inhabitants. An environmental lawyer can expect an average annual salary of over $100,00. In addition to managers, scientists, engineers, and lawyers, many other occupations involve sustainability and have green goals. There are undoubtedly green careers that you may not have thought of, and sustainable practices can be incorporated into many existing positions. The reality is that sustainability needs to infiltrate all businesses and industries for us to mitigate the effects of climate change and reach sustainable development goals.
As global businesses begin to evolve in a brave new world defined by the COVID-19 pandemic, many are evolving, and a focus on sustainability is emerging as a global trend. The pandemic has allowed us to redefine the future of work and incorporate inclusion, resilience, and sustainability at a foundational level.
Please also check out our update on 2023’s most in-demand green jobs.
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