Environmental and Sustainability Studies graduates go on to a wide variety of careers in business, non-governmental organizations, municipalities, and trade and professional organizations. Grand Valley's ENS program prepares students to apply their knowledge through class projects, individual assignments, internship positions, community-based learning, and hands-on field work.
In a 2012 survey of employers in the West Michigan region, 93% indicated that they have an interest in promoting sustainability within their organization. Now in 2021, the demand for and opportunities in the environmental and sustainability field continue to grow- projected to increase by 7% in Michigan and 6% nationally by 2025 (EMSI, 2021).
The skill sets these employers identified as most desirable included:
- Environmental impact and assessment
- Economic impact assessment
- Alternative and renewable energy
- Environmental law and policy
- Social impact and assessment
- Neighborhood and community sustainability and revitalization
- Climate change mitigation
- Sustainable food systems and urban agriculture
Sustainability as a Profession
Many employers and other organizations are coming to recognize the need for expert guidance as they implement sustainability measures. This has led to an emerging career path to Work as a Sustainability Professional, whether as a full-time position or combined with other job responsibilities. The International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP) supports and connects people working in the field. In 2016, ISSP introduced the first globally recognized certification for sustainability professionals, which is not required for graduation or for the majority of sustainability-related positions. Rather, it's an added credential opportunity.
Want to know more?
Explore environmental-related jobs, potential employers, and strategies to get there: "What Can I Do With This Major?"
Check out our detailed overview of "Green Jobs Projections to 2020" for the U.S., Michigan, and the greater Grand Rapids area.
Another valuable resource is the USDA's report "Employment Opportunities for College Graduates in Food, Agriculture, Renewable Natural Resources, and the Environment 2015-2020."
The following sites provide additional information on green jobs and the importance of this ever-growing profession:
- United States Department of Labor: Good Jobs, Safe Jobs, Green Jobs
- United States Bureau of Labor Statistics: Green Jobs Initiative
- Education Portal's resource: Career Information for a Degree in Environmental Studies
- Learn How to Become: A Guide to Green Careers
- Sustainability Degrees (including a salary calculator): The Best Careers in Sustainability and Types of Sustainability Degrees
- Affordable Colleges' resource: Turning Green Degrees into Sustainable Careers
- Discover Data Science's page: Guide to Data Science and Sustainability
- OnlineColleges.net: The Path to a Sustainability Career
- Best Colleges guide to Careers in Sustainability: A Path to Green Jobs
- Company Debt's resource: How is Your Business Going to be Affected by Climate Change?
- An extensive list of Sustainability Career Resources (Items on this list come from the Higher Education Associations Sustainability Consortium (HEASC), the Disciplinary Associations Network for Sustainability (DANS), and the U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development)