RU’s undergraduate degree in Sustainability Studies instills deep knowledge about the pressing environmental issues of the 21st century while providing a thorough grounding in the liberal arts. Students who combine their SUST course sequence with a 18sh functional area in a natural science (biology, chemistry,or environmental science), social science (sociology or psychology), or professional field (organizational leadership, hospitality management, commerce and enterprise, paralegal studies) give themselves an added edge in the competitive job market.
Reports on the Green Economy and Sustainability-related Jobs
- Jen Walling, “How To Pursue a Career Protecting the Environment” (IEC Blog, 10 July 2018)
- Eban Goodstein, “From College to Sustainability Career in Four Steps: an AASHE Perspective” (4 Aug 2017)
- In December 2015, the Greenforce Initiative released a report entitled “Greenprint: A Plan to Prepare Community College Studies for Careers in the Green Economy” (also available here as a pdf). Contains a wide variety of educational and employment resources and statistics on green jobs and career pathways.
- Eban Goodstein, “The Road to a Sustainability Career: Grad School or Work First?” Greenbiz (1 May 2015)
- Debra Rowe published this essay on sustainability jobs and career pathways on the National Career Development Association website on 1 December 2013, which provides a comprehensive listing of green/sustainable careers, job resources, and potential educational pathways. Highly useful for students, graduates, academic advisors, and faculty.
- The US Bureau of Labor Statistics launched a Green Jobs Initiative in 2011 that formally defines green jobs and tracks statistics about green jobs across all economic sectors. Also see the Green Careers Page on the BLS site; a notable part of this site is A Woman’s Guide to a Sustainable Career
- In July of 2011, the Brookings Institute released a landmark report entitled “Sizing the Clean Economy: A National and Regional Green Jobs Assessment” that rated the Chicago area third in green jobs among the 100 largest metro areas in the nation, with 79,388 jobs defined as green, everything from workers assembling wind turbines to scientists researching the next breakthrough in battery technology.
- College graduates of all stripes are increasingly attracted to the growing number of sustainability-related jobs throughout various parts of the economy, as reported in this recent article from The New York Times (24 June 2011).
- A study by the Pew Charitable Trust released in June 2009 said that there are already 770,000 “green” jobs in the economy (comparable to the 989,000 jobs in the more mature field of telecommunications) and that the nation’s “clean-energy economy is poised for explosive growth.”
- Back in October 2008, the U.S. Conference of Mayors reported estimated that rapid growth in “green jobs” could make it “the fastest growing segment of the U.S. economy over the next several decades.”
These assessments provide context for the long-term job prospects for Sustainability Studies graduates in the emerging green economy (for some reflections on the nature and prospects of that economy, see this 2010 blog post from the America Society of Landscape Architects). Sustainability is an issue that will grow in importance in coming decades, and all sectors of the economy will continue to seek employees, professionals, and leaders who are conversant in its many aspects and implications.
Those with training in sustainability and other environmental areas are well-prepared for a careers in a host of fields in natural science, social science, humanities, business, and other professions. Environmental careers are no longer limited to traditional jobs such as fisheries biologist or park ranger; professions throughout the economy seek out graduates who can combine knowledge of sustainability issues and environmental literacy with critical thinking, research, and communication skills.
Examples of Sustainability-related and Environmental Careers
- Science/Engineering: chemical engineer, energy manager/technician, hydrologist, restoration ecologist, toxicologist, transportation planner, water/wastewater engineer
- Business/Professional: agricultural extension specialist, brownfields real estate developer, corporate recycling manager, environmental economist, environmental quality certification specialist, GIS specialist, natural resource manager, paralegal, risk manager, sustainability officer
- Social Science: community organizer, geographer, historian, museum curator, parks and recreation specialist, planner, policy analyst, political scientist, sociologist
- Arts and Humanities: artist, environmental communications, journalist, landscape architect, technical environmental writer
Selected Online Resources on the Green Economy, Employment Opportunities, and Career Resources
- AASHE Bulletin (weekly job postings, most in academia)
- Green and Sustainability Jobs and Career Resources (National Career Development Association)
- Roosevelt University Office of Career Services
- Chicagoland Environmental Network Jobs and Internships
- Chicagoland Green Collar Jobs Initiative
- Illinois Green Economy Network (community college partnership)
- 7 Tips for Finding a Job after College (from Careerealism)
- Bureau of Labor Statistics — Green Jobs Initiative and Green Careers Page
- Why Green Is Your Color: a Woman’s Guide to a Sustainable Career (BLS)
- Careers in Sustainability (from BestColleges.com)
- Jobs in Sustainability job search resource
- Orion Grassroots Jobsource
- Eco.org job search resource
- Green Careers Guide
- Green Jobs Network
- Environmental Jobs (University of Oregon)
- Careers in Environmental Studies (University of Kansas)
- What Can I Do with this Major? (environmental studies/science)