The Top 5 Sustainability Management Careers

Sustainable Business Leadership The Top 5 Management Careers in Sustainability

From project management and compliance to data analytics and finance, improving the sustainable practices of an organisation requires a range of expertise across a variety of business functions. As such, the demand for sustainability skills is growing, with the United Nations reporting that 24 million sustainability jobs will be created globally by 2030.

In this blog, we explore five sustainability management careers that are growing in demand and assess how these roles are positively impacting businesses.

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What is sustainability management?

Sustainability management refers to the decision-making processes and strategies adopted by employees to enhance the social, economic, and environmental impact of an organisation. It involves carefully planning for sustainable changes whilst considering the business implications of these decisions. While businesses aim to make positive changes and boost their reputation, they also strive to enhance their long-term financial outcome through sustainable solutions.

Top 5 careers in sustainability

Sustainability careers are varied and contribute to the development of sustainable practices within a broad range of industries. Here are our top five:

1. Sustainability Analyst

A Sustainability Analyst is responsible for reporting on the overall performance of sustainability initiatives which aim to develop business practices. They will closely research and assess internal datasets and information and make recommendations regarding the software, tools, and capabilities that the organisation may wish to adopt in order to develop future sustainable strategies.

They’ll typically be responsible for:

  • Analysing business trends and identifying areas of sustainable development. 
  • Presenting findings and outlining opportunities to other colleagues such as project managers, finance, and marketing teams.
  • Collating data and reporting on the effectiveness of sustainability initiatives, particularly in relation to external sustainable development goals and legislations.

To become a Sustainability Analyst, you’ll need robust analytical skills, good attention to detail and an ability to accurately interpret data.

2. Sustainability Project Manager

The Institute of Project Management defines sustainable project management as the planning, monitoring, and controlling of project delivery and support processes, with consideration of the environmental, economic, and social aspects of the lifecycle of the project’s resources, processes, deliverables, and effects.

These responsibilities are fulfilled by Sustainability Project Managers who ensure that sustainability is effectively embedded throughout each stage of a business project’s life cycle. They will typically be responsible for:

Monitoring sustainability trends and legislative changes that need to be adhered to.

Interpreting data to identify new opportunities to integrate sustainability into everyday business practices or a particular project.

Working with internal stakeholders to integrate sustainability into operations, including finance, procurement, facilities, and marketing.

To succeed in this role, you must competently manage the scope, schedule, budget, risk, quality, and resources of any sustainability initiatives and display strong leadership and organisational skills. These attributes will lead to the effective rollout and integration of sustainability projects from start to finish.

3. Sustainability Compliance Manager

Sustainability Compliance Managers are responsible for ensuring that new sustainability initiatives are adhered to, with the organisation meeting its legislative obligations and abiding to frameworks such as the Paris Climate Agreement.

They will typically be responsible for:

  • Conducting audits to ensure sustainability standards are consistently being met.
  • Identifying compliance issues and undertaking any necessary follow-up action when required.
  • Assessing business operations and risks associated with new sustainability initiatives.

The competencies required to succeed in this role include having a detailed knowledge of policy, governance and legislation, a comprehensive and contemporary understanding of external factors influencing sustainability, good problem-solving skills, and strong communication skills.

4. Sustainability Marketing Manager

Sustainability Marketing Managers will be responsible for the development and delivery of sustainability-related marketing strategies. They engage in a broad range of activities including product development, delivery and promotion.

Day to day, they will typically be responsible for:

  • Collaborating with sustainability managers such as Data and Insights Managers, Project Managers and Compliance Managers to understand the sustainable developments occurring within an organisation.
  • Developing and sharing communications both internally and externally to raise awareness of sustainability initiatives through a mix of online and offline marketing.
  • Executing and analysing marketing campaigns to measure the customer reach and engagement of sustainability communications.

Sustainability Marketing Managers must translate complex sustainable business initiatives into clear and concise messaging for customers, employees, and other stakeholders.

5. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Manager

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Managers are responsible for promoting ethical and sustainable practices within their organisations. They ensure their company’s operations are aligned with social and environmental responsibilities through the initiatives they roll out.

They will typically be responsible for:

  • Developing and managing CSR strategies that contribute to positive social impact and environmental stewardship.
  • Collaborating with fellow colleagues to integrate sustainability practices into their organisations operations.
  • Engaging with stakeholders such as employees and customers to highlight the impact that corporate social responsibility practices are having.

To succeed as a Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, you need a good understanding of the impact sustainability principles and regulations can have, alongside strong communication skills to share new practices with wider teams.

How much does a Sustainability Manager earn?

According to Glassdoor, the typical salary of a Sustainability Manager in the UK ranges from £37,100 to £55,582 per year as of May 2023. See our table below for more detail.

Role*: Salary:
Sustainability Compliance Manager £55,583
Sustainability Marketing Manager £51,572
Sustainability Project Manager £47,955
Corporate Social Responsibility Manager £46,542
Sustainability Analyst £37,100
* = According to Glassdoor (statistics from May 2023)

How to become a Sustainability Manager

If you’re passionate about transitioning to a sustainable economy and need the skills to lead sustainable strategies in your organisation, then a formal qualification could be the right next step for you. Not only will this show your commitment to professional development, but it will also help you take your career to the next level.

Consider studying an online Sustainable Business Leadership Masters / Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) at the University of Leeds. It’s one of few courses that integrates the two areas of sustainability and business, and with a 100% online delivery mode, you’ll have the flexibility to learn whilst working.

Disclaimer: This article is not based on data but on the author’s personal perceptions of the sustainability industry.

“You’ll find many of our graduates in major companies as well as industry organisations, such as the Met Office, the Environment Agency, business, energy and industrial strategy organisations, UK government bodies and even the United Nations. I tend to work with international students that come to do programmes where they experience work within government departments and then go back to them after graduating.”

Dr James Van Alstine Associate Professor in Environmental Policy and the Director of Masters Education, University of Leeds
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