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Sustainability Degree? Anyone pursuing or graduate?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 


I went back to school this fall (been SAHM for 10 years). Currently enrolled at CMC in the sustainability BA degree. Problem is, I'm not sure what I'll do with the degree when I graduate. I'm passionate about local food, growing organics, living off the grid, yada, yada. But, I need to make money when I graduate. Do any of you have a great green career? Talk to me about it, let me know what's going on with you! Thanks!  

post #2 of 9

I just spent a year job hunting and recently landed a job (though not in your field).  During my search, I came across quite a few really cool jobs for sustainability coordinators/directors at places like college campuses, local municipalities, and museums.  I would definitely look at colleges to see if they have a sustainability program.  Look at local cities and counties, too. From what I could tell, the pay was quite decent, with excellent benefits.  PM me if you want details.

post #3 of 9
Most of the people I've known who were into sustainability ended up going to graduate school and getting Master's degrees in Natural Resources and the Environment with different focuses--environmental education, sustainability in business, etc...and then go on to work in the private sector as sustainability consultants, or in the public sector with the national park system or other similar govt areas, or in the nonprofit sector with advocacy oriented environmental nonprofits. Another option is a Master's degree in engineering focusing on an area of sustainability or an MBA/MS dual degree program. Career options for Bachelor's degrees seem to be similar to any other liberal arts degree--people end up anywhere!
post #4 of 9

Several of our friends work for our state's farmers' market association or the state's agriculture department. One friend has a job as a "local food consultant," and she visits towns and talks to people about why to buy local and also works with farmers on marketing their products. I've always thought it was a really amazing job to have, and if you're really interested in local foods, then it could be a great path.

post #5 of 9

I have a slightly different degree, but was interested in the same things as you. I have a BA in Environmental Education. I have found it to be extremely difficult to find work in not just EE but the sustainable field. Either it seems necessary to be willing to relocate (and especially to more progressive areas) or to work for peanuts/housing/seasonal etc. Not saying you can't do it but I would look seriously at where you are willing to go.


I ended up working as a Park Ranger for a couple of years and now after a lot of consideration of going for a Masters in Natural Resources, I'm switching fields for a health related Masters.

post #6 of 9

Could you do a double major where you could combine the sustainability with a more marketable field?  I'm a college professor, and in my experience students struggle sometimes with degrees in non-traditional fields if they don't quite understand how to market themselves.  Think about what it is exactly that you want to do and then get some concrete skills.  Interested in helping businesses adopt more sustainable policies- how about a double major in sustainability and business?  Interested in local food- my university has a sustainable agriculture program that combines courses on sustainability with traditional ag courses?  Interested in the environment- how about environmental sciences, geology, biology, or even environmental chemistry?  Think really hard about what it is you actually want and develop an education around that.

post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the feed back. I really want to not struggle financially anymore, but I really struggle with "traditional" professions. If I could do anything I would be a midwife, but my family is so large and I struggle with how to always be on call and potentially miss big important dates for my children. I don't know. The sustainability degree is so new, I'm not sure it will be worth while. I appreciate any other insight out there! Thanks, Pies

post #8 of 9

I did a Master of Environmental Science in 2006 with a focus on engaging university students in sustainability initiatives on campus along with how we go about trying to change people's behavior to act in more environmentally responsible ways.  I then got a job as a research fellow for one year working on a related project and I now work for the university's sustainability office on student outreach and education projects.  I LOVE my job!  It's great to do something you love and feel like you make a difference every day.  Well most days :)  This sector is growing in leaps and bounds with many campuses hiring dedicated sustainability staff.  See the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) at http://www.aashe.org/ for more info on this field.  Their bulletin offers job listings as well. 


Consulting and environmental education are other interesting avenues.  Whatever you do, be sure you get strategic skills so you can market yourself well.  GIS, survey skills, soil or water testing, education credentials, research methods, organizational change strategies, etc. 


All the best!

post #9 of 9

I am not in a sustainability program, but the school I am attending has a program.  They just added a huge new campus dedicated just to this subject.


Have no idea of the success rate in the job market.  Pittsburgh in general has been on the environmental bandwagon for a while, much more involved than many of the states I recently visited in the West & Mid West.  We seem to have a market here.



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