Energy & Sustainability
Sustainability focused or “green” careers can include roles at nonprofits, government agencies or for-profit companies. A focus on sustainability can be found in work related to renewable energy, sustainable practices in agriculture, law, production or architecture, policy, and conservation. The focus of sustainable professionals is to preserve natural resources for the future, reduce long term impacts of human/corporate behavior, increase efficiency, research, and develop products.
Skills to develop for success in this field
- Attention to detail
- Collaboration and ability to work on a team
- Passion for sustainability
- Problem solving
- Project management
- Quantitative and qualitative analytical ability
Online resources specific to the industry
- Vault* is a comprehensive resource for information on what it is like to work within an industry, company or profession.
*Note: Login via the NU Resources page using your NetID and password, and create your own account using your NU email address.
Log in to check out these resources for more specific information about the field of sustainability:
- Vault Career Guide to Earth Science Jobs 2nd Edition
- Vault Career Guide to Environmental Science & Conservation Jobs 2nd Edition
- Vault Career Guide to Energy
- Vault Guide to Energy Jobs 2nd Edition
- Vault Guide to Alternative Energy Jobs 2nd Edition
The following are a sample of careers you can explore via Vault (under Career Advice > Explore Careers > Browse Professions): Renewable Energy, Geothermal Energy, Green Builders, Green Marketers, Green Product Manufacturers, Bioenergy/Biofuel, Hydroelectric Production, Solar Energy, Environmental Consultants, Environmental Lobbyists, Environmental Restoration Planning, Wind Energy
Job posting and other career informational sites relevant to the field:
- Idealist: use Job Function (i.e. conservation, sustainability) or Issue Areas filters (i.e. climate change, energy, environment & sustainability)
- Northwestern Institute for Sustainability and Energy: in addition to courses and undergraduate certificate program, the Institute offers opportunities through external partnerships
- U.S. Department of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy
Key information or knowledge for this field
- Just as there are certifications to prove an organization’s commitment to sustainable practices, there are also an increasing number of certifications to demonstrate an individual’s knowledge and skill in the industry. When researching specific roles and talking with professionals, this is a topic to explore further as it could help with future career advancement.
- The skills required for sustainable or “green” careers can vary widely. For example, positions can require more technical or scientific skills if they fall into the areas of engineering or research. On the other hand, helping a corporation to market sustainable products requires little to no scientific training, but an understanding of marketing techniques. A passion for the mission will be critical to all careers in the field of sustainability. Researching and conducting informational interviews will help to understand what combination of technical and other transferable skills are required.
Relevant student groups and professional organizations
- Athletics Sustainability Committee
- ASG Sustainability Committee
- Engineers for a Sustainable World
- Environmental Engineering Undergraduate Society
- Fossil Free Northwestern
- Northwestern Undergraduate Energy Club
- Northwestern University Solar Car Team
- Real Food at Northwestern
- Plant-it-Purple Graduate Garden
- Pura Playa
- Students for Ecological and Environmental Development (SEED)
- Wild Roots
External Professional Organizations: