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Top Cities for Sustainability Jobs

By 3p Contributor


By: Ben Bira

“What jobs can you get with a master’s degree in sustainability?” “Is sustainability a profession?” “Do you think sustainability might be a short-lived buzzword?”

I have been asked similar questions from friends, family, and professional colleagues during my time in graduate school.  I finished my MS in Sustainability and am currently pursuing a full time MBA; therefore, I am highly motivated to find answers to these questions.

My solution to answering these difficult questions for myself and others was to create a jobs board on sustainabilityleads.com and compile weekly sustainability jobs data from Indeed.com as a way to gauge how sustainability is trending professionally.  The "2016 State of Sustainability Careers Report" is my approach to make sense of the sustainability job market from November 2015 to November 2016.

Many jobs may fall under the broad umbrella of sustainability without carrying the word “sustainability” in their title or description.  For example, some would consider a “climate change policy analyst” position to be categorized as a sustainability job even though “sustainability” doesn't appear in the title or even the description.  Therefore, it is important to note that my conclusions are not reflective of jobs in the broad sustainability movement, but rather jobs in the niche sustainability profession that use the word 'sustainability.' Additionally, there are jobs that have nothing to do with sustainability at organizations that promote sustainability.  For example, an accountant for the Nature Conservancy might oversee payroll, but they play an important role in the overall mission of a sustainability-focused organization.

One aspect of my report was to focus on the location of these sustainability jobs.  Where should a job seeker look to find one of these niche positions?  Each week I looked at data from Indeed.com and recorded the top locations for jobs with 'sustainability' in the title.  After one year of data collection, I averaged the results to provide an idea of which cities were consistently at the top: New York City, Washington D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta and Los Angeles respectively.



These are raw totals, not per capita, so it's no surprise my list includes bigger cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.  Perhaps a better way of demonstrating the sustainability job market is to consider the competition for available sustainability jobs in each city.  Dividing the total population of each city by the average number of available jobs shows that although New York City has the most average number of available sustainability jobs, it also has the second most people competing for those jobs at roughly 750,000 people per available job on any given week.



Washington D.C. leads the way with approximately 75,000 people per sustainability-titled job, indicating that there is less competition than in the other markets. While Seattle and San Francisco are known as sustainability hubs, try D.C. or Atlanta if you want your application to stand out.

Ben Bira created Sustainability Leads as a platform for sustainability research, careers, and resources.  He investigates current trends in Sustainability through the jobs board, resources page, personal interviews, and blog.  His research serves as a resource to new and existing professionals in the field.  Ben holds a Master of Science in Sustainability with experience as an EPA Environmental Scientist, LEED Consultant, and Sustainability Research Associate.  He is currently a MBA candidate with an expected graduation date of Spring 2017.  Connect with him on Linkedin or email him at sustainabilityleads@gmail.com. 


Image credit: Pixabay, Graphs courtesy Ben Bira 

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