A Couple of Questions for the Sustainability Professionals (or anyone else)

Sorry for not being around today — life simply got in the way… I hope you’re all having a good weekend.

I received email from one of sustainablog’s high school-aged readers, and s/he had a couple of questions I’d like to throw out for discussion. First, what college major would work best for someone looking towards a career in sustainability? Second, what high-paying career opportunities are out there in the field?

I’ll take a shot, even though I’m not a “sustainability professional.” I’ll start off by saying “sustainability” describes a broad range of activities, so almost any college major could work, and many careeer tracks could move into a sustainability focus. With that nice, broad statement, I’d assume that a broad-based liberal arts education would be great, but one would also want to get some course work in biological and environmental sciences, as well as some business coursework. Otherwise, it would depend on what one wanted to do. Would you want to be, say, an environmental journalist? Obviously, a journalism or English major would likely be your best bet (as well as reading the caveat on Grist‘s writer’s guidelines page). Do you want to work for a green or sustainable company? Than a business administration, marketing, management, etc., major would likely be a productive path. Social sciences would be important, also, as the relationship between human beings and the environment is central to sustainbility.

We’ve all got a role to play, and the movement towards sustainability needs many intelligent, creative and passionate people from all walks of life. With that said, I’d say follow your loves and your strengths in college, but also start meeting with a counselor in your college’s career advisement office early in your college studies. Keep in mind you may have to educate that person on the concept of sustainability: a number of us have discussed at times the blank stares and/or hostility we’ve received when bringing up the concept. Talk to your professors (while remembering that even they may need education in this area). Look for summer study opportunites (and there are lots of them out there) and internship possibilities. Finally, always look for connections. You probably won’t find the answers in a single class, but rather by looking at the interconnections between human society (business, government, non-profit) and the natural world.

Enough “professing,” though. What tips do can you folks in the trenches give?

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