What Qualifications Do You Need to Work in ESG?
The type of qualifications required to work in ESG jobs fundamentally depends on the area of ESG you intend to work in. Certain areas will of course demand specialist knowledge and/or degrees and experience. To break it down into some of the key areas, this is a basic guide to some of the expectations employers will have for those embarking on careers in ESG.
One of those specialist areas, ESG jobs like Project Engineer or Graduate Engineer in ESG and Sustainability tend to expect a tertiary qualification in either engineering, environmental management, sustainability or something related. Some organisations may also want you to possess a level of experience in mining and resource industry projects, and to have experience in reporting on sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions.
Hiring managers will also likely be looking for candidates who’ve had exposure to risk and compliance management and possibly ESG software, and who have experience using Excel and PowerBI for data modelling and dashboarding.
Banking and Finance-based roles
Working in ESG and Sustainability roles within the financial services sector really requires you to have relevant industry experience and a degree or similar qualification to back that up. Qualifications in finance, accounting, economics, commerce or banking are most common for this area.
Starting as an ESG Analyst, candidates would need to have completed a degree in subjects such as sustainability, environmental science or property. These roles require individuals who are proficient in project management and confident in talking to people across the business. Strong communication skills is something that traverses all ESG jobs across the board. ESG Analysts must also be able to demonstrate strong research and analytical skills, good attention to detail and an understanding of sustainability indices and reporting protocols. Knowledge of Excel and other data management software is also useful.
Senior Analyst roles
Stepping up to the more experienced ESG Analyst jobs, candidates will have had to have accrued at least 2-3 years of practical experience in ESG, whether through working for the Big Four or at a specialist ESG firm or for another large corporate organisation. In these capacities an individual will have been exposed to ESG strategy, frameworks and policies, as well as had opportunities to hone those project management and people skills. Senior ESG Analysts must be able to engage effectively with internal and external stakeholders as well as with senior members of the executive suite and the board.
Consulting based roles
ESG Consultant jobs could fall under a number of disciplines, from corporate governance to mining and manufacturing. Industry experience and knowledge is therefore something hiring managers will be looking for. One of the expectations of individuals working in these roles is that they have a thorough understanding of the specific ESG challenges facing the organisation and the dynamic within the ESG and sustainability teams and the business. Employers will definitely be expecting a solid track record in ESG and Sustainability consulting, alongside strong commercial acumen, business development and project management skills. Stakeholder management is another key skill requirement, in addition to proven risk awareness and excellent communication. As for education, most employers will be looking for a degree level qualification in Environmental and Social Governance, Sustainability, Finance, Law, Economics or a related discipline.
Research based roles
Jobs like ESG Research Manager are best suited to individuals who have had hands-on experience in the space for 5 years or more. Mathematical-based degrees like commerce and finance will provide a good basis as working in ESG Research will require good proficiency in reviewing and analysing large amounts of data in detail. Law, Social Sciences and Business are other popular degree routes that can lead to careers in ESG Research, with some organisations and roles also requiring post-graduate certifications including Masters in Finance or Economics, MBA or CFA.
The main qualifications, that cover a number of jobs in ESG and Sustainability, are Masters in Environmental Management, MBA in Sustainability and Masters in Sustainability. There are also a number of niche courses, such as a certificate in ESG Investing, or similar certification courses in Climate Change and Decarbonisation. Look into the programs offered at your local Universities to see where the best course offerings are for you.