Want A Career With A Future? Try Sustainability

There has been lots of "he said she said" over green jobs, and whether they are truly benefiting the economy. Part of the controversy is related to semantics and differing interpretations of "green," but there is one segment that appears to be expanding.

Sustainability departments.

Big businesses are expanding their green teams as they become more aware of the environment and of carbon footprints. If this study by GreenBiz.com is correct, budgets and the number of employees devoted to sustainability at billion-dollar firms each expanded an average of 6 percent.

GreenBiz.com also reported that, "Management takes sustainability more seriously: Fifty-six percent of respondents said that sustainability is "on the agenda permanently, but not core" to operations, while another 29 percent called it "a permanent fixture and core strategic consideration."

This may come as a surprise to those who listen only to what politicians in full election mode, but not to those of us who work in this business. Corporate America is developing a definite green hue, as this blog post notes. In this report, global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company notes that more executives say such programs increase value and reduce costs.

Here is a quote from the survey: "In just the past year, we’ve seen a shift in the results from our annual salary survey where the word sustainability is etched on a manager’s or senior manager’s business card more than twice as often as it was the previous year (56% of the time in 2011 and just 26% in 2010). Similarly, almost 50% more vice presidents and senior vice presidents have sustainability in their title compared to 2010."

Here from GreenBiz.com is a hint of specific sustainability jobs that could gain a higher profile in 2012.

We are also finding that younger people care about sustainability, and are making it part of their decision-making process. Studies show that students are attracted to colleges that practice sustainability, and that more campuses are adding related programs. UC Davis, for example, just announced a new major in sustainable agriculture. Community colleges also are getting into the act.

Sustainability not only is a growth industry, but it pays well too. GreenBiz.com says, "Vice President-level sustainability execs make an average of $218,409 annually; Director-level leaders earn $161,510; and Manager-level leaders make $105,345 annually."

That's a lot of green.