What do sustainability specialists do?
Sustainability specialists are professionals who help organizations and individuals make environmentally-responsible decisions within their workplace.
These specialists focus on identifying the environmental impact of their organization’s practices, developing eco-friendly replacement strategies and advocating for new sustainable policies. Some of the key responsibilities for sustainability specialists include maintaining environmental regulations, tracking long term sustainability goals and sharing important data with supervisors and stakeholders. Overall, sustainability specialists are large contributors in reducing environmental impact, promoting sustainable practices and assuring social responsibility for their organization.
In what industries do sustainability specialists work?
Sustainability specialists work across a diverse range of industries, including business, manufacturing, construction, agriculture, transportation, government, nonprofit, education, tourism and technology.
These professionals may pursue a specific industry based on their personal interests and professional goals. For example, if you’re passionate about teaching future generations on our environmental impacts, a role in education that focuses on sustainability could be a perfect fit. Overall, sustainability specialists help organizations across many sectors discover how to implement sustainable practices across their workplace.
The skills you’ll need in this role
Sustainability specialists are experts in effectively identifying, addressing and communicating complex environmental issues.
To succeed in this role, you should possess a combination of technical and communication skills. According to Caroline Savalle, director of Career Services and Alumni Engagement at the College of Global Futures at Arizona State University, some of the most important skills that sustainability specialists need include:
- Ability to work with diverse audiences.
- Critical thinking.
- Data management and reporting.
- Effective writing.
- Presentation and communication.
- Relationship building.
Salary and job outlook for sustainability specialists
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of environmental scientists and specialists is expected to grow at a faster than average rate of 6% from 2022 to 2032. The median annual salary for these specialists is $76,480 as of 2022.
Earn your online bachelor’s degree in sustainability
ASU Online’s Bachelor of Science in sustainability is best suited for students interested in learning about sustainability with an emphasis on math and natural sciences. In courses SOS 111: Sustainable Cities and SOS 311: Future Thinking and Strategies, you’ll explore case studies that cover real-world environmental issues, such as sustainable engineering and development. Additionally, in SOS 231: Careers in Sustainability, you’ll learn how to build a strong resume and effectively approach the job search upon graduation.
ASU Online’s Bachelor of Arts in sustainability has a more interdisciplinary approach, with coursework that covers a range of topics within humanities and social sciences. In this program, you’ll gain a well-rounded experience through experiential learning, faculty collaboration, leadership development and study abroad opportunities. During courses such as SOS 220: Systems Thinking and SOS 310: Equity, Justice and Sustainability, you’ll use the study of theory and practice to focus on the social, economic and ecological systems that collectively impact the environment.
Students in either of the sustainability programs can participate in the following opportunities:
- Job SHARE (Mentorship with the College of Global Futures alumni).
- Professional development advising (With the College of Global Futures career services team).
- School of Sustainability LinkedIn group (Build a network with other sustainability students)
- SustainabilityConnect and Handshake (Remote internship opportunities).
- Sustainability Undergraduate Research (SURE) program (Remote research opportunities).
“Beyond curriculum, ASU has a lot to offer and I recommend students take full advantage of those extracurricular opportunities” said Savalle.