How to Become a Sustainability Manager
Sustainability Manager Careers & Degrees

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Sustainability Managers work for businesses, companies and organizations who strive towards sustainability efforts within their establishments.

These individuals may work for a sustainability firm that provides sustainability consultation or a larger establishment with the resources to have this specialized profession on staff.

The majority of employers seek consultants from outside firms.

Individuals who want to become a Sustainability Manager will have a passion for sustainability and the environment, a post-secondary degree and management experience.

In addition, the following skills will help individuals succeed in this profession: communication skills when interacting with clients or other professionals, attention to detail to help them determine improvements an organization needs to make and be knowledgeable in regards to compliance.

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Education Requirements to Become a Sustainability Manager

Individuals who want to become a Sustainability Manager will need to complete a postsecondary degree in order to enter this field.

In addition, individuals are encouraged to have a background or knowledge in sustainability.

Individuals must also have experience in this field and have a basic management background.

Individuals who want to become a Sustainability Manager or another type of manager that focuses on sustainability must seek a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in order to enter this field.

Some common degrees that individuals pursue include: engineering, environmental science and business management are some recommended educational tracks; other educational tracks are also sought.

Individuals who want to seek advancement opportunities are encouraged to continue their education and complete a master’s program.

A Master of Business Administration is one of the recommended educational tracks.

Larger organizations typically look for candidates with advanced degrees.

Individuals who do not have an environmental science degree but who still want to become a Sustainability Manager have the option of completing a certification program that will help them enter this profession.

Individuals can pursue a certificate or a degree in topics such as sustainability or environmental management.

Individuals who do not have an advanced degree are encouraged to have several years of experience before seeking jobs as a Sustainability Manager.

Sustainability Manager Job Description

Sustainability Managers focus on providing sustainability consultation to their employers or clients.

Some individuals may work for large corporations with the funds to hire this profession internally while others may work for consulting firms that focus on sustainability.

Sustainability Managers will first gather information on how an establishment works and uses their resources.

They will use that information to help them strategize and develop a sustainability plan.

They will create this plan and present to senior staff who will implement some or all of the recommended suggestions.

In addition, Sustainability Managers will also ensure that their clients or company are following regulations revolving environmental guidelines and laws, or health and safety regulations.

Sustainability Manager Salary and Career Path

At this time, there is no specific information on salary and wages for Sustainability Managers.

However, there are management occupations that include sustainability professionals.

For example, General and operations managers required to focus on sustainability.

In 2011, the median annual salary for General and Operations Managers was approximately $95,150 per year.

Exact wages will depend on a variety of factors including the size of a company, level of experience and geographical location.

There is also no recent information on the job outlook for the sustainability field.

However, there is growth occurring in this field because of the importance that has been placed by organizations.

Many organizations have begun focusing on goals geared towards improving sustainability.

Job opportunities for the similar professions of General and Operations Managers are expected to grow by 12 percent through the year 2022.

This growth is considered an average growth when compared to other professions.

Sustainability Managers use a variety of skills in order to perform their required daily functions.

These professionals have the option of working for a consulting firm that focuses on sustainability or a large establishment whose goal is to manage sustainability efforts.

The public’s interest in sustainability efforts has caused some large establishments to adopt these practices within their organization.

If the public’s interest continues to grow, individuals who want to enter this field have good prospects when looking into consulting jobs.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary

$77,940
$42K
$54K
$77K
$95K
$124K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$62,880
Alaska$81,780
Arizona$64,190
Arkansas$60,390
California$92,320
Colorado$84,690
Connecticut$73,710
Delaware$61,780
District of Columbia$112,540
Florida$61,200
Georgia$69,050
Hawaii$70,030
Idaho$63,110
Illinois$80,710
Indiana$62,910
Iowa$69,400
Kansas$76,140
Kentucky$53,190
Louisiana$71,610
Maine$71,790
Maryland$81,640
Massachusetts$83,450
Michigan$71,140
Minnesota$77,700
Mississippi$64,460
Missouri$53,780
Montana$66,290
Nebraska$59,960
Nevada$64,440
New Hampshire$73,800
New Jersey$82,230
New Mexico$77,900
New York$84,080
North Carolina$65,380
North Dakota$66,040
Ohio$78,930
Oklahoma$70,080
Oregon$80,680
Pennsylvania$72,840
Rhode Island$81,160
South Carolina$61,120
South Dakota$60,360
Tennessee$72,310
Texas$77,430
Utah$70,630
Vermont$65,140
Virginia$85,660
Washington$85,870
West Virginia$56,020
Wisconsin$62,340
Wyoming$68,580
Puerto Rico$43,430
Virgin Islands$48,380

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $112,540.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

District of Columbia - $112,540
California - $92,320
Washington - $85,870
Virginia - $85,660
Colorado - $84,690
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Health, OCC Code 19-2041, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat does a sustainability manager do?

The main goal of a sustainability manager is to make sure that his or her company upholds and works towards finding new and economically reductive ways to stay green.

Such a career will help you make a difference in the way businesses affect our environment.

The typical responsibilities of a sustainability manager usually include creating strategies to make the workplace greener; communicating and marketing sustainability campaigns to internal and external stakeholders; measuring the company’s sustainability performance; analyzing and auditing, and so on.

A sustainability manager can work with local authorities, universities, environmental consultancies, central government bodies, etc.

Sustainability managers should be able to multi-task, be creative, have an analytical mind, and be able to solve problems quickly (and within the limits of a certain budget).

QuestionHow much do sustainability managers make?

On average, a sustainability manager can make a little more than $73.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to follow this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $49.000 and $114.000 annually.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the employer, the location and so on.

The sustainability managers that work in California, New York, and Georgia, for example, have the highest average salaries.

An entry-level sustainability manager can earn $15 per hour, while a specialist with plenty of experience will make $41 and more.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become a sustainability manager?

You would, in most cases, need a bachelor’s degree in a sustainability- or environment-related field, in order to become a sustainability manager.

A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

To improve job prospects, consider going for a master’s degree (Master of Science in Environmental Sciences, Master of Architecture – Sustainable Buildings, etc.); the degree will cost you over $11.000.

You can also go for an industry certification; the ISSP Sustainability Associate credential, for example, will cost you $175-$350.

QuestionWhat is the demand for sustainability managers?

Between 2014 and 2024, the sustainability manager job market is expected to grow by 5%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That is as fast as the national average for all occupations in the United States.

The public will become more interested in eliminating the hazards facing the environment and the living organisms of our planet in the near future.

The candidates that hold a master’s degree and plenty of experience will have better job prospects.

QuestionHow long does it take to become a sustainability manager?

It will take you 4 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree and another 2 years to earn a master’s degree.

Business and finance management courses can be helpful.

There are a lot of courses available both online and offline that can fit any budget; some last for a couple of weeks, while others can take you a few semesters to complete.

On-job experience is extremely important; you can work for a few years for a small company to experience and understand various issues at different levels.

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