The future of the planet may feel like quite the burden to take on. Most college students and young professionals are just trying to figure out how to make a living and keep up with their bills. Yet it must be a priority on the individual level, or you can never expect or demand climate change to be taken seriously by corporations or the government. The smartest students out there are discovering you can marry a passion for sustainability with a viable career choice, by studying an environmental discipline. In fact, outside of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers, any field that touches environmental sustainability can be expected to outgrow all other pursuits in the coming decade. Here are the top five environmental jobs you should consider.
It might come as a shock, but farming tops this list. There are around two million farmers in the United States, and if you look at their median age it is clear the majority of them will be retiring in the next decade. That is going to leave quite the gap that must be filled. Organic farming is becoming even more important, and with more consumers looking to shop with small, local growers, the family farm is once again becoming an important aspect of our economy. You can expect a difficult life, but a seriously rewarding one.
The fastest growing alternative energy source is solar power. It is being adopted by more Americans than anything else, and infrastructure is racing to catch up. That means tons of opportunity for a solar power installer. Jobs in this sector are increasing by the thousands each and every quarter, and you don’t need an advanced degree to get this work. You’ll use your hands, spending your days outdoors helping families and businesses save money and contribute energy back into the grid.
If you’re unafraid of education and want to pursue a career that will see you making a difference on a much grander level, study to become an urban planner. You will work hand in hand with the government of a city, devising new construction projects and figuring out how to lower their carbon footprint on a massive scale. You’ll make a decent living, and can expect job growth in the mid-teens over the next several years. Work in urban planning is also a great way to develop yourself for a future career in government.
If business is your career trajectory but the environment is your passion, train and market yourself as a Chief Sustainability Officer. This is the type of job that could see you earning a six-figure salary, while helping a large corporation reduce their carbon footprint, or even become carbon neutral. Profitability will always be at the core, so many of your sustainability efforts will focus on reducing waste within the company. But since a corporation can often be just as large as a city, the impact you can make on the environment could be substantial.
Finally, don’t forget the educational option. Kids are the future of the world, and they need someone to show them how important sustainability is. So train yourself as a science teacher, and you’ll possibly make the largest impact of any of these careers. You’ll continue your personal education throughout your entire life, making sure you have the latest environmental data resources to share with your students. And by motivating your students to get involve with the environment, you might just be developing a young mind that will solve some of these problems in his or her future career.