Top jobs in sustainability
Want a career in sustainability? Explore the best options and salaries for green jobs in the UK, and start making a difference at work.
If you care about raising awareness of climate change and helping to protect our natural environment, then you could be well suited to a career in sustainability. Conversations about climate change continue to grow, as we start to see a collective urgency in reducing emissions and taking better care of the natural world.
Therefore, there is no better time to consider sustainability careers than now. Whether it’s renewable energy or environmental health, green sectors are starting to boom, which means there are now more sustainability roles available than ever before.
If you want a meaningful career that makes a genuine difference to how people live their lives, then looking for a role in a lucrative and fast-growing green industry makes complete sense. In this article, we will explore examples of green jobs, covering what each one entails and the skills needed for each role.
Sustainability careers: Top 12 in-demand sustainable jobs
According to the 2022 Global Green Skills Report, green talent increased from 9.6% in 2015 to 13.3% in 2021, which saw a cumulative growth rate of 38.5%. Also, globally, job postings requiring green skills have grown by roughly 8% annually since 2015.
It’s clear to see that there is a real opportunity to pursue sustainability careers, so in this section, we will list examples of sustainable job opportunities (in no particular order) to help you narrow down a vast field of sustainability roles.
1. Solar Consultant
A solar consultant is responsible for speaking to potential clients about the benefits of solar energy. This sales-based role involves looking for potential clients, tailoring your pitch to their needs, closing the sale, and generating contracts.
Full training will always be provided, so you don’t necessarily need experience working in solar. However, some experience in a previous sales role is highly beneficial. Generally, a lot of solar consultant roles are commission-based.
UK salary expectations: £55,170
2. Solar Installer
Responsible for attending job sites and installing solar energy equipment, solar installers have several key responsibilities. This includes ensuring the site is suitable, making recommendations, installing solar panels, and finally connecting them to an energy system.
While it’s not essential, you’ll need to be relatively fit to be a solar installer, as it’s quite a hands-on role that requires you to lift heavy materials in an outdoor environment. You’ll also be required to carry out maintenance work.
UK salary expectations: £36,778
3. Environmental Specialist
If you care about the natural world, then this is one of the best jobs in sustainability. An environmental specialist monitors and assesses the impact we have on the environment, coming up with solutions to limit the negative effects.
Duties are varied, but include maintaining safety and environmental internal audit programs, conducting Annual Comprehensive Site Compliance Inspections, and developing plans to limit environmental issues.
UK salary expectations: £31,394
4. Environmental Health and Safety Specialist
Environmental health and safety specialists are responsible for studying how environmental factors affect human health and analysing potential environmental health risks.
You’ll be expected to enforce health, safety, and environmental regulations, while protecting people, organisations, the people they serve, and the planet. Another main responsibility is to educate the public about health risks.
UK salary expectations: £39,139
5. Civil Engineer
When browsing different types of sustainable jobs, roles as civil engineers are always a popular choice. The role of a civil engineer is very diverse, meaning you can work in planning, design, construction, research or education.
You’ll be required to design, construct, and maintain infrastructure projects, which can include roads, airports, bridges, buildings, and so much more. You’ll need a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering to be considered.
UK salary expectations: £37,079
6. Senior Civil Engineer
If you start out as a civil engineer, then the natural career progression is to become a senior civil engineer. Senior civil engineers are involved in the planning process of infrastructure projects, covering all the same areas as we discussed above.
However, the main responsibilities differ, as you’ll be required to create budgets, review safety issues, manage large teams that consist of many different roles, and more.
UK salary expectations: £47,840
If you like working outdoors and being surrounded by nature, then sustainability careers don’t get much more appealing than this. As a forester, you’ll be expected to create plans for regenerating forests, monitor their progress, supervise tree harvests, and keep forests from disease and other nasties.
You’ll also need to assist in the sale of forest products and conserve wildlife habitats. Sometimes companies will only employ you if you have a degree in forestry, but this isn’t always the case.
UK salary expectations: £31,087
For sustainability careers that are mainly based outdoors, becoming an arborist is an excellent option. You’ll be responsible for planting and maintaining trees and shrubs, using a variety of different tools and machinery.
To be an arborist, also known as a tree surgeon, you’ll need to have extensive knowledge of botany and horticulture. However, this is often not essential prior to gaining employment, with training always provided.
UK salary expectations: £27,002
Ecologists study different environments and the organisms that inhabit them, helping to predict the impact of construction work and how to limit any damage caused by the proposed plans.
You’ll be required to study the relationship between plants, animals, and the environment. Depending on the task, you could spend time working outdoors, at a university, in an office, or in a laboratory.
Some job duties include visiting sites to undertake surveys, researching the impact of construction and other human activity, and advising on legal regulations in relation to protected species.
UK salary expectations: £31,361
10. Environmental Scientist
As an environmental scientist, you’ll specialise in coming up with solutions to protect human health and limit any negative environmental impacts.
Whether you specialise in climate change or wildlife preservation, you’ll be required to collect and analyse samples, develop conservation programmes, advise policymakers, and clean up polluted areas. If you care about both the human and environmental aspects of greener living, then this role ticks both boxes.
UK salary expectations: £35,588
11. Environmental Technician
Environmental technicians perform laboratory and field tests to protect the natural environment from contamination. By working out the main sources of pollution, they can evaluate and make recommendations to prevent major environmental issues.
Duties can include conducting site surveys, inspections and assessments, conducting chemical samples for environmental compliance, and so much more. If you’re looking for sustainability roles that help you get your foot in the door, then a job as an environmental technician is a good place to start.
UK salary expectations: £20,304
12. Environmental Manager
Our final green job is an environmental manager. Environmental managers work for organisations across a broad spectrum of industries to make sure they are compliant with environmental guidelines and legal requirements.
They will typically meet with clients, audit their operations, provide feedback, and make strategy suggestions. Other duties include investigating accidents and training employees on environmental issues.
UK salary expectations: £38,643
Examples of green jobs courses to further your learning
Having explored the best jobs in sustainability, the chances are you’ll be interested in online courses that help prepare you for a career in this sector. Not only will courses offer you digital certificates and an improved set of skills, but they will also provide you with the knowledge and know-how to excel in sustainability careers.
At FutureLearn, our sustainability courses are designed for professionals of all levels and expertise. Check out our list of courses below that will help prepare you for a job in sustainability.
- Building a Sustainable Future with Technology by the UAL Creative Computing Institute and Feminist Internet
- Renewable Energy: Achieving Sustainability through Bioenergy by the University of Leeds
- Energy Transition and Sustainable Economies by the Hanken School of Economics
- Sustainable Management in the Extractive Industry by SUMEX
- Agriculture: Smart Food Urban Farming by Universiti Malaya
- Learning for a Sustainable Future by the University of Edinburgh and the British Council
- Unleash Your Potential: Sustainable Futures by the University of Bristol
- Soft Skills for Navigating Global Challenges by Ubiquity University
- Transport Systems: Global Issues and Future Innovations by the University of Leeds
- Clean Air for Urban Liveability by RMIT University and EIT Urban Mobility
- Building Products and Chemistry by Parsons School of Design
- Building Design: Material Selection for Healthier Communities by Parsons School of Design.