Going Green: Get a Sustainability Degree

Get a degree, save the planet (Photo by Wonderlane)

We all know that green is the new black. Anything eco is okay with us. Sustainability is the wave of the future. So how do you translate energy renewal into a weekly paycheck?

Green jobs are available in all of the fields that people already work in. No matter how you make a living now, you can upgrade your skills with a green degree, and still stay in the same field. Solar cells and windmills require civil, mechanical and chemical engineers to work out all the kinks. Structural engineers integrate green technology into new buildings. Contractors and architects are needed to put those energy saving concepts into practice. If you already have a degree in some aspect of construction, such as designing, planning, or managing building construction, you can upgrade your skills with a certificate in a green building program.

Art and design concepts are going green, as well. Interior designers and horticulturists take sustainability features into consideration when creating livable spaces. Agriculture and aquaculture benefit as new ideas are implemented that place less stress on the environment.

But did you realize that there’s also a place for accountants and psychologists in the green revolution? As tax laws evolve, and as more green businesses spring up, the need for people with specialized accounting skills grows right along with them. Environmental psychologists do their part by studying human behavior, in order to create a “model of human nature that predicts the environmental conditions under which humans will behave in a decent and creative manner,” according to Raymond De Young, of the University of Michigan.

Public officials with environmental policy degrees work side-by-side with sustainable business owners to clean the air and the water, and to secure the planet for future generations. Graduates with a degree in coastal zone management balance the needs of waterfront cities with protection of the shoreline. And let’s not forget environmental science, which combines the study of global health and ethics with the more traditional biology and ecological fundamentals.

If business management is your cup of tea, the sustainability program at the University of Colorado Business School may be a worthwhile investment. The program includes courses on:

  • Sustainable finance and accounting
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Social entrepreneurship
  • Green marketing strategy
  • The role of social investing in fostering sustainable communities and sound environmental practices
  • Business ethics
  • Measuring and tracking the triple bottom line (people, planet, profits)
  • Sustainability and eco-efficiency as sources of competitive advantage
  • Methods of calculating the life cycle and ROI of new ventures

The goal of sustainability degrees is to integrate many disciplines into one degree. Everglades University describes its Alternative and Energy Management program as “plac[ing] emphasis on communication skills, global awareness, management skills, critical thinking, codes and standards, and construction and environmental regulations and requirements.”

The changing world we live in will require managers, scientists, and builders who can change right along with it. A degree that takes the human factor into account while it fosters creativity and the will to make the most of what we’ve got, is just the sort of asset that can enable that kind of flexibility.

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