Online Sustainability Bachelor’s Degree

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Updated November 17, 2021 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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An exciting new field, sustainability careers promote environmental, social, and economic sustainability. This field emphasizes living in a way that meets our needs today without compromising future generations' abilities to meet their needs. Sustainability professionals help organizations analyze and minimize their environmental impact. They create strategies to protect the environment, promote social responsibility and equity, and increase profitability for their employers.

A multidisciplinary field, sustainability offers diverse career paths. Although a growing field, the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not measure sustainability or green jobs as its own discrete category. As concern about the environment increases, more employers need the knowledge of experienced sustainability professionals, particularly in roles like sustainability analyst, sustainability manager, environmental educator, and environmental scientist or specialist. Many schools offer affordable, accredited online sustainability degrees.

What Is a Job in Sustainability Like?

Although most people think of the environment when they hear the word sustainability, the holistic field also encompasses social and economic issues. Sustainability professionals analyze the environmental, social, and economic impact of governments, businesses, schools, and other organizations. They help organizations reduce their impact on the environment while also promoting economic and social health.

An online sustainability bachelor's degree prepares graduates to work in industries like education, science, engineering, human resources, occupational health and safety, and business. It prepares them for jobs like teacher, sustainability coordinator/manager/analyst, environmental scientist, and conservation scientist.

The career paths graduates qualify for depends on the focus of their sustainability program and their relevant experience. Many sustainability programs let students add a concentration to their degree. Others offer more specialized programs, like an online sustainable business degree that qualifies students for additional positions in business. Other schools offer a sustainable architecture degree online, opening the possibility for additional career paths in architecture, engineering, and green building.

Sustainability majors receive a multidisciplinary, relevant education that prepares them to help solve some of the most pressing problems the world faces. Students gain critical-thinking, analytical, communication, and problem-solving skills. This relatively new field is still evolving, and many potential jobs for sustainability professionals probably do not even formally exist yet. Sustainability graduates benefit from a well-rounded, innovative education that translates to careers in and outside the environmental field.

What Can I Do with an Online Sustainability Bachelor's Degree?

Graduates of online sustainability degree programs pursue varied career paths. Many sustainability professionals work in the environmental field as environmental scientists, researchers, and educators. As sustainability grows in popularity, positions like sustainability manager, sustainability analyst, sustainability coordinator, and sustainability project manager pop up in all kinds of industries, like fashion and design, architecture, education, and business. Sustainability professionals help organizations of all kinds do better.

Skills and Knowledge Gained

Students who earn an online sustainability degree receive a broad overview of the still-evolving sustainability field. They learn to analyze the environmental impact, social responsibility, and financial health of organizations from a holistic point of view. They also gain communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, and analytical skills that translate well to many different careers and industries. Graduates of bachelor's in sustainability programs qualify for entry-level positions in diverse fields; many also continue their education at the master's or doctoral levels.

Because the skills and knowledge that students gain from an online bachelor's in sustainability are so versatile, students must proactively develop their skills for the industry or career they plan to pursue after graduation. Many sustainability programs offer concentrations that let learners focus on a particular area of study, such as environmental education, urban sustainability, and management.

Students who plan to seek a teaching career should add an environmental education concentration, if available, while those interested in urban planning positions should specialize in urban sustainability, for example. Some programs let learners design their own concentration related to their academic interests and career goals. Students can also choose courses relevant to their interests to meet elective requirements.

Even if a student can not add a concentration in an area directly related to their career interests, they can gain experience and skills by other means. Many online sustainability bachelor's degree programs offer internship opportunities that help learners gain hands-on training and professional experience. Sustainability majors who want to work in fashion can pursue a fashion internship over the summer, even if they can not find a program that offers a specialized sustainable design degree online.

Careers and Salary Potential

Because of the multidisciplinary and relatively new nature of the field, an online sustainability degree can translate to many types of careers. The most common career paths for graduates of online sustainability programs include the environmental and education fields. Some potential careers include environmental scientist and specialist, high school teacher, and sustainability manager. Prospective fields and industries include environmental consulting, environmental research, and engineering services. Sustainability professionals also increasingly offer knowledge and skills to help organizations become more sustainable.

Environmental Scientists and Specialists

Annual Median Salary: $71,130

Environmental scientists and specialists protect human health and the environment using specialized knowledge in the natural sciences. They conduct environmental research projects, create plans to solve environmental problems, and communicate information about environmental issues to the public, government, and businesses.

High School Teacher

Annual Median Salary: $60,320

High school teachers provide instruction to high school students, planning lessons, grading assignments, evaluating students' strengths and weaknesses, and enforcing school rules. Most states require public high school teachers to obtain licensure.

Sustainability Manager

Annual Median Salary: $72,189

Sustainability managers help companies and other organizations determine and lessen their environmental impact. They coordinate evaluations, make recommendations, and train personnel on sustainability issues.

Sustainability Analyst

Annual Median Salary: $56,966

Sustainability analysts help organizations analyze sustainability in areas like energy and water use and waste reduction. They need skills in project management, data analysis, research analysis, and environmental consulting.

Sustainability Director

Annual Median Salary: $101,201

This management-level career helps create an overarching vision and strategy for improving sustainability at a company or other organization. Sustainability directors design programs, create education and training initiatives, and manage employees.

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