Your Top 10 Questions About Green and Sustainability Careers

You are here because you are eager to pursue a career working in sustainability or at least learn more about it first. However, breaking into the climate or social impact space can seem daunting without the right guidance and advice. Here, we address some of the top questions young changemakers ask about breaking into sustainability and low-carbon jobs and careers.

1. How Do I Get Work Experience in Sustainability?

Getting into your first sustainability role without any experience can be tricky. The question of how to get that crucial initial experience is a common concern. Here are some steps you can take:

Seek Out Opportunities for Work Experience:

  • Internships and Work Placements: Many organisations offer internships or work placements specifically in sustainability roles. These can provide hands-on experience and valuable insights into the industry.
  • Volunteering: Charities, social enterprises, and community businesses often need volunteers. These organisations are usually more than happy to accept help and can offer practical experience in various sustainability projects.
  • Digital Skills Utilisation: You can offer your services remotely if you have digital skills. Many organisations are looking for support with digital marketing, data analysis, or creating content related to sustainability.

Develop Soft and Transferable Skills:

  • Identify and Hone Skills: Soft skills such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and project management are invaluable. These can be developed through various activities in your daily life.
  • Document and Demonstrate Skills: Record your skills and consider how you can demonstrate them. Include these in your CV, and be prepared to discuss them in job interviews.

2. What Educational Background Do I Need?

The sustainability sector is diverse, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. There are so many sustainability-related degrees now that it is important to narrow them down by understanding your key skills and passions and how they intersect with the world’s needs. Then, do your research around the many on offer.

However, here are a few educational pathways you might want to consider:

Relevant Degrees:

  • Environmental Science: A broad field covering various aspects of the environment, including conservation, ecology, and climate change.
  • Sustainable Development: Focuses on balancing environmental health, economic growth, and social equity.
  • Renewable Energy: Specializes in energy sources such as wind, solar, and bioenergy.

Alternative Routes:

  • Short Courses and Certifications: Many institutions offer short courses and certifications in specific areas of sustainability. These can be a great way to gain knowledge without committing to a full degree program.
  • Online Learning: Platforms like Coursera, edX, and LinkedIn Learning offer numerous courses on sustainability topics, often from leading universities and organisations.

3. What Career Paths Are Available in Sustainability?

The field of sustainability offers a wide range of career paths. Some of the most popular include:

Environmental Consultant: Advises on environmental regulations and helps organisations minimise their environmental impact.

Sustainability Officer: Works within an organisation to develop and implement sustainability strategies.

Renewable Energy Specialist: Focuses on developing and deploying renewable energy technologies.

Sustainable Agriculture Specialist: Works on improving farming practices to be more sustainable and eco-friendly.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Manager: Develops and oversees strategies to ensure a company operates economically, socially, and environmentally sustainability.

4. How Can I Make My Application Stand Out?

In a competitive field, making your application stand out is crucial. Here are some tips:

Tailor Your CV and Cover Letter:

  • Highlight Relevant Experience: Focus on any sustainability-related experience, whether it’s voluntary work or projects completed during your studies.
  • Showcase Your Passion: Employers want to see your commitment to sustainability. Mention any personal projects or initiatives you’ve been involved in.

Network and Build Relationships:

  • Attend Events and Conferences: Participate in industry events, webinars, and conferences to meet professionals and learn about the latest trends.
  • Join Professional Associations: Becoming a member of organistions such as the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP) and Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) can provide networking opportunities and resources.

Stay Informed and Engaged:

  • Keep Up with Industry News: Follow sustainability news and trends to show prospective employers that you are knowledgeable about the field.
  • Engage on Social Media: Join discussions on social platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter to connect with industry professionals and showcase your interest in sustainability.

Embarking on a career in sustainability is a rewarding journey that allows you to make a positive impact on the world. By seeking out relevant experiences, developing your skills, and staying engaged with the industry, you can pave the way for a successful career in this vital field.

5. How do I get work experience in campaigning and climate justice?

To gain work experience in campaigning and climate justice, you can follow these steps:

Educate Yourself: Start by learning about climate change, environmental justice, and relevant policies. This can include studying scientific reports, attending workshops or webinars, and reading books or articles. Understanding the issues and current debates is crucial for effective campaigning.

Volunteer with Environmental Organisations: Look for volunteer opportunities with non-profit organisations, advocacy groups, or community initiatives that focus on climate justice and environmental activism. Offer your time and skills to support their campaigns, events, or outreach efforts. This hands-on experience will provide valuable insights into grassroots organising and campaigning strategies.

Join Student or Youth Groups: Many colleges and universities have student organizations dedicated to environmental activism and climate justice. Joining these groups can provide opportunities to get involved in campaigns, organize events, and collaborate with like-minded peers. If there isn’t a group already established, consider starting one yourself.

Internships: Seek out internships with organisations that work on climate justice issues. Many non-profits, think tanks, and government agencies offer internships focused on environmental advocacy, policy research, community organising, and communications. These internships can provide valuable hands-on experience and help you build connections in the field.

Networking: Attend conferences, workshops, and events related to climate justice and environmental activism. Network with professionals working in the field, and don’t hesitate to reach out for informational interviews or mentorship opportunities. Building relationships with experienced campaigners can open doors to potential job opportunities and collaboration.

Develop Campaigning Skills: Learn about effective campaigning strategies, including community organising, advocacy tactics, media relations, and digital activism. You can take online courses, participate in workshops, or seek guidance from experienced campaigners. Developing these skills will make you a more effective advocate for climate justice causes.

Start Your Own Initiatives: Consider launching your own campaigns or initiatives to raise awareness about climate justice issues in your community. This could involve organizing events, conducting outreach campaigns, or collaborating with local stakeholders to promote environmental sustainability and social justice.

Stay Informed and Engaged: Stay up-to-date with developments in climate policy, environmental justice movements, and grassroots campaigns by following relevant organisations and activists on social media, subscribing to newsletters, and participating in online discussions.

By following these steps and actively engaging in campaigning and climate justice efforts, you can gain valuable work experience and contribute to meaningful change in your community and beyond.

6. Do I Have to Take Less Pay if I Work in a Climate or Green Job?

Not necessarily. There are many different types of jobs in sustainability, and pay grades can vary widely. It’s important to research and check out the salary bands for the types of jobs and sectors you are interested in.

Higher Paying Roles:

  • Specialised Professions: Certain professions within the sustainability sector, such as environmental law, engineering, finance, IT, design, and architecture, often come with higher pay. These roles typically require specific qualifications and experience, which can command higher salaries.

Lower Paying Roles:

  • Arts, Social Impact, and Third Sector: Jobs in the arts, social impact, or the charity and voluntary sectors often fall within lower pay bands. If salary is a significant factor for you, it’s crucial to research the typical pay for the roles you’re considering before pursuing a specific career path.

7. How Do I Know if a Company is Just Green or Social Washing Before I Work for Them?

Ensuring that the company you want to work for genuinely upholds sustainable and ethical practices is essential. Here’s how to spot potential greenwashing or social washing:

Research Their Claims:

  • Website and Values: Start by looking at the company’s website. Check its values and mission statements. More importantly, see if it lives those values through its products and services.
  • Accreditations: Look for green or sustainability certifications such as Organic, Fair Trade, or B Corp. These accreditations indicate a commitment to certain standards of environmental and social responsibility.

Ask the Right Questions:

  • During Interviews: Don’t hesitate to ask questions about their sustainability practices during job interviews. However, be mindful of how you frame your questions to avoid jeopardising your job application. Focus on understanding their actual practices rather than their promotional claims.

Check Reviews and Reports:

  • Employee Reviews: Websites like Glassdoor can provide insights into the company’s culture and how seriously they take their sustainability commitments.
  • Sustainability Reports: Many companies publish annual sustainability reports. Reviewing these reports can give you a clearer picture of their real impact and initiatives.

Embarking on a career in sustainability is a rewarding journey that allows you to make a positive impact on the world. By seeking out relevant experiences, developing your skills, and staying engaged with the industry, you can pave the way for a successful career in this vital field.


7.  What Are the Most In-Demand Jobs in Sustainability?

The demand for sustainability professionals is growing across various industries. Here are some of the most sought-after roles:

Environmental Engineers: These professionals design solutions to environmental problems, such as pollution control and waste management, and are crucial in developing sustainable infrastructure.

Sustainability Consultants: They advise organizations on implementing sustainable practices and improving their environmental impact. This role involves a mix of technical knowledge and strategic planning.

Renewable Energy Specialists: With the shift towards renewable energy sources, experts in solar, wind, and other renewable technologies are in high demand.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Managers: CSR managers develop and oversee strategies to ensure a company’s economic, social, and environmental sustainability.

Urban Planners: They work on creating sustainable urban environments, focusing on areas such as green building, public transport, and waste management.

Staying up to date on market trends through Linkedin, which produces a very insightful Global Green Skills report.

9. How Can I Make a Difference in Sustainability Without a Green Job?

Even if your current job isn’t in the sustainability sector, you can still make a significant impact:

Implement Sustainable Practices at Work: Encourage your employer to adopt sustainable practices such as recycling, energy efficiency, and reducing waste.

Join Green Initiatives: Many companies have green teams or sustainability committees. Joining these groups allows you to contribute to your company’s sustainability efforts.

Advocate for Change: Use your voice to advocate for sustainable practices within your organization and community.

Continual Learning: Stay informed about sustainability issues and trends. This knowledge can help you make more environmentally friendly decisions in your personal and professional life.


10. How Can I Network in the Sustainability Sector?

Building a network is crucial for career development in any field, including sustainability:

Attend Industry Events: Participate in sustainability conferences, workshops, and webinars to meet professionals and learn about the latest trends.

Join Professional Associations: Organizations like the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP) offer networking opportunities and resources.

Engage on Social Media: Follow and interact with sustainability leaders and organizations on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter.

Volunteer: Volunteering for environmental organisations can help you build connections and gain experience in the field.

Pursuing a career in sustainability is a fulfilling way to contribute to the health of our planet. You can significantly impact the sustainability sector by understanding the diverse opportunities available, acquiring the necessary skills, and building a strong network.

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