What you need to know about a career as a resources specialist

May 04, 2020 · 3 min read · By ASU Online
The concepts of sustainability are applicable to numerous aspects of organizational operations in business, ranging from utilities consumption to equipment and supply usage.

The concepts of sustainability are applicable to numerous aspects of organizational operations in business, ranging from utilities consumption to equipment and supply usage. Beyond the desire to conserve natural resources, each component of sustainability is different, requiring the application of separate skills. As a result, businesses may need to hire sustainability staff rather than simply entrusting all of these operations to a single professional.

Resources specialists can fill several of these needs on a company's sustainability team, which may make them valuable to employers in need of multiple hires. These individuals focus on the varied tenets of conservation and eco-friendliness, and specialized sustainability skills must be developed through study, training and hands-on experience. Those with an interest in becoming sustainability resources specialists should consider a graduate degree program that is directly focused on the field, such as a Master of Sustainability Leadership.


A typical day in the life of a resources specialist

Because of how devoted they must be to a particular category of green technologies or best practices, sustainability resources specialists will sometimes operate in small teams or apart from the other members of an organization's staff, occasionally spending extended periods of time away from company headquarters.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, these professionals may: Collect data at the business's various locations Look at key indicators such as electricity and utilities costs Analyze supply distribution and usage Determine whether renewable materials are in use where applicable

Two resource specialists working together in a warehouse.

Additionally, resources specialists will often be tasked with initiating sustainability strategies on a practical level. As a member of a team of related experts, specialists are likely the ones who hold the responsibility of practical day-to-day implementation of an initiative. If a corporation with long-term overseas operations wanted to manufacture LEED-certified energy efficient housing for its workers, for example, a planner would devise plans and gain approval. Once this is complete, a sustainability resources specialist might travel and conduct direct oversight of the project.

A closer look at the professional landscape of a resources specialist

A skilled and experienced resources specialist should be able to gain support based on the financial returns that green practices can produce. Cost-benefit analysis can be a vital skill for these professionals. Thorough analysis could use data like performance metrics, cost incentives and consumer feedback to show company managers why an initiative is worth the investment.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t have a dedicated entry for sustainability resources specialists. However, it does have two entries for related paths: environmental scientists and specialists and sustainability specialists. The BLS predicts 11 percent job growth for the environmental scientists and specialists role between 2016 and 2026. The BLS found that these professionals earn a median wage of $69,400 per year.

For sustainability specialists, growth is projected at between 5% and 9% over that same time period. The median wage for this title is $70,010.

Becoming a resources specialist

According to the BLS, a bachelor's degree in environmental science, biology, physics, geosciences, chemistry or engineering constitutes the minimum requirement for anyone hoping for a sustainability resources specialist career. But to stand out with employers, it can help to possess a master's degree, like a Master of Sustainability Leadership.

In addition to what can be learned in a graduate program, real-world experience working with sustainability-focused nonprofit organizations, or in a sustainability role attainable with a bachelor’s degree, may provide a boost to the resume of a prospective resources specialist.

Learn more about your potential career as a resources specialist

Sustainability resources specialists may fill an organization’s need for a diverse staff of experts in this field by moving between different duties with ease. The online Master of Sustainability Leadership from Arizona State University educates students in a range of sustainability skills they can use throughout their daily and professional lives. Learn about the sustainability resources specialist role in an online MSL program.

ASU Online – Master of Sustainability Leadership
O*Net OnLine – Sustainability Specialists
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Environmental Scientists and Specialists
International Institute for Sustainable Development – Climate Change Job Vacancies
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Is a Sustainability Career on Your Green Horizon?
International Society of Sustainability Professionals – Sustainability Professional Certification

Three resource specialists work together in an office.


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