Sustainability Jobs in the US
The United States journey to become a more environmentally sustainable economy has accelerated the growth of specialist fields within the business landscape – from renewable energy to sustainable finance. Meanwhile, traditional businesses and organisations have made huge strides in a bid to reduce the environmental footprint of their operations.
Amid this drive to “go green” a new category of employee has emerged to fill the sustainability jobs that represent an ever-growing portion of the US workforce: the “green collar” worker. For example, jobs in the renewable energy and environment sectors grew by 237% in the US over the last five years.
Types of sustainability jobs in the US
Sustainability jobs in the US span various sectors and industries, offering diverse career opportunities – including:
As the world moves to net zero, the transition to clean energy sources like solar, wind, and hydroelectric power has prompted a surge in jobs in the renewable energy sector – from solar panel installation and wind turbine maintenance to green energy project management. According to the US Bureau for Labour Statistics, wind turbine service technicians (68% increase) and solar photovoltaic installers (52% increase) are projected to see the fastest employment growth from 2020 to 2030.
Government agencies, non-profit organisations, and private companies employ sustainability professionals to monitor and protect the physical or social environment. For example, Environmental Protection Specialists enhance environmental or public health and safety by conducting a range of crucial tasks: inspections, surveys, assessments, or investigations to ensure compliance with environmental laws; evaluate environmental impact; and identify hazards and other issues that can impact the health of an environment or a population.
Green building and construction
Sustainable construction practices aren’t a bonus; they’re a perquisite in the US amid environmental rating systems – such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) – that certify a building’s environmental credentials in terms of high energy and water efficiency, low carbon emissions, and a healthy indoor environment. Consequently, architects, engineers, and construction managers with expertise in green building techniques are in high demand across the country.
Businesses in the US have a clear incentive to take corporate sustainability seriously: according to an IBM Institute for Business Value Survey, 62% of consumers are willing to change their purchasing habits to reduce environmental impact, and half of respondents are willing to pay a premium for sustainability.
To tap into this demand, businesses across industries are hiring sustainability managers to develop and implement eco-friendly policies and practices. These professionals focus on reducing waste, lowering emissions, and enhancing supply chain sustainability.
The sustainable finance market has grown at a brisk clip in recent times as businesses seek to align their financing strategy with their sustainability ambitions. Sustainable investment and finance specialists empower these organisations to take environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations into account when making investment decisions, leading to more long-term investments in sustainable economic activities and projects.
Sustainable education and advocacy
The growth of sustainable education and advocacy in the US reflects a growing awareness of ESG issues among businesses, their stakeholders, and wider society – a trend that can be attributed to factors like stakeholder pressure, an increasingly robust regulatory environment, and consumer preferences.
Sustainability educators and advocates play a central role in raising awareness and driving positive change in sustainability – and can be found in various organisations, including nonprofits, universities, research institutions, and corporations. These roles typically focus on promoting sustainable business practices, raising awareness about environmental and social issues, and driving positive change within organisations.
As awareness of environmental and social issues continues to grow, organisations are placing greater emphasis on sustainability practices, creating a huge demand for professionals who can help them navigate this complex landscape.
According to a study analysing trends in the American sustainability job market, the average total compensation for sustainability managers is $146,900, $227,158 for directors and $404,972 for vice presidents. These above-average salaries augment a rewarding career that benefits people and the planet with attractive remuneration.