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What’s special about a career in Environment and Sustainability? 

Our #EdSustainabilityCareers campaign started this week and it’s all about shining a light on careers that have a positive environmental impact and/or fight climate change.  

To kick things off here on the blog, thank you to Sarah Johnston, Careers Consultant, for this great overview of a career in the environment and sustainability sector. Sarah also gives tips on how to make the most of our session “Meet People Working in Sustainability” 


As we face the reality of climate change and our damaged environment there is a need for committed professional people to work to protect our planet and manage its natural resources. 

What’s it like… 

  • Working with like-minded people who are passionate about making a difference in climate change, reducing plastics, renewable energy technology, sustainability and much more. 
  • It’s impossible to generalise about the work done in this sector – you are as likely to be working in a forest as an office! 
  • Anyone working in the sector is likely to have done relevant volunteering or have hobbies connected to the environment and/or outdoors.
  • It is increasingly important to have the “people skills” required to influence others and bring them with you on a sustainability journey and the project management capability to make things happen”.  Sarah Atkinson, National Talent Acquisition Partner, Sustainability and Civil & Infrastructure Team, Hays  
  • There are only a few formal programmes to get work experience or for graduate jobs – you don’t need to have worked for a well-known brand, but you do need to be able to talk about how what you have done is relevant.
  • Environmental and sustainability roles cover a wider range of degree backgrounds than almost any other sector. As well as technical roles (requiring science, engineering, geography, agriculture and so on), there are quantitative roles, data and tech jobs, marketing, education, charity work and creative positions. Add in sales, policy, community work, food and hospitality and much more, and you can see that a pathway in sustainability and the environment offers huge possibilities.
  • “Currently much of the agenda is driven by Net Zero but the broader challenges of environmental management and pollution control haven’t gone away.  The importance placed on Social Sustainability has been steadily growing and there is an increasing amount of interest in Biodiversity and Water Management alongside e.g. Sustainable Agriculture/Air Quality” Sarah Atkinson, National Talent Acquisition Partner, Sustainability and Civil & Infrastructure Team, Hays 
  • You don’t need to work in the sustainability or environmental sector to have a career that supports sustainability.  

“Sustainability jobs have increased by 12.7% from 2010 to 2019, with a massive 393,900 jobs registered in 2019. A lot of roles now have a sustainability aspect, whether it is Finance trying to keep energy costs down, Procurement trying to source net zero contracts and suppliers or Construction trying to reduce waste and environmental impactSarah Atkinson, National Talent Acquisition Partner, Sustainability and Civil & Infrastructure Team, Hays.

What to do next…

  • Watch this recording of a session from November 2021 “Sustainability is all our jobs(UoE login required) for practical examples of how climate change is impacting all jobs whilst also creating new roles.  
  • Come along and “Meet People working in Sustainability” on Wed 16 November. This event brings together recent Edinburgh graduates, employers and professional and 3rd sector organisations who are as passionate about the environment as you are. Although some of these organisations are recruiting, that’s not the main purpose. This is all about meeting early stage career professionals, getting advice from like-minded people and hearing how they forged a path in this sector. 
  • Use this event to: 
    • Ask early years professionals how they started out in the sector. 
    • Get advice on the sorts of skills that are in demand – and how you can develop these. 
    • Talk over your job search strategy – what are the best ways to find work? 
    • Find out about the professional bodies you should be joining (yes, even while you’re still a student!) 
    • Find out about new emerging job roles – and what’s happening in the industry. 
  • Taking that first step into a graduate role can be daunting. Not sure where to start? On Tuesday 15 November, Sarah Johnston and Rebecca Clacy-Jones will be talking about ‘Thinking about a job in the environmental sector’  – sign up for this online session via MyCareerHub. 
  • Read this post on How to secure your first green role  by Paul Gosling of Hays
  • Explore ideas for “Getting Sustainability Work experience in Scotland” with Bright Green Business on 15 November. Sign up via MyCareerHub 

For more content related to Sustainability Careers, please search #EdSustainabilityCareers on socials and MyCareerHub.  



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