Top 10 MBA in Sustainability Management Career Paths – Job & Salary Information

Are you a prospective student researching MBA in Sustainability Management programs? You might be wondering what type of MBA in Sustainability Management career paths are available to graduates. The fact is, is that sustainability has become an important topic in every day life. Because of this, sustainability has grown to permeate all sectors of business. A nurse who was fed up with the internal waste she saw while working was now motivated to bring about change. City water professionals look to harness sustainability knowledge into improved systems. And sustainability has not just become a new area to explore in business, it has grown to offer many exciting sustainability management career paths.

What is Sustainability Management?

Many MBA programs with a sustainability management focus are intended for people who want to work in management that considers both the environmental, social, and economic factors. Graduates create and practice sustainability initiatives to change how businesses operate. In MBA in Sustainability Management degree programs, modern sustainability science and practice are studied alongside management theory in the coursework. And these programs are offered in full-time and part-time formats for people with ongoing professional commitments.

The value of a sustainability degree is “growing as each day passes,” according to Marsha Willard, Executive Director of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals and CEO of Axis Performance Advisors. She claimed that a degree program strictly in environmental studies, engineering, or organizational development is not enough for today’s corporate sustainability efforts. As a response to this need, more and more business schools are offering MBA in Sustainability Management programs.

Now, let’s take a look at the top MBA in Sustainability Management Career Paths available today!

Top MBA in Sustainability Management Career Paths

Vice President (VP), Sustainability

A vice president of sustainability often leads a sustainability team and sustainability initiatives that incorporate and advance organizational objectives. This VP is in charge of building the company’s corporate sustainability efforts, envisioning and designing the vision and strategy to guide those efforts, and creating the implementation and execution roadmaps for those programs. This highly cross-functional leadership position will work with groups across the organization to reduce environmental and social impact and promote creative ideas and innovation.

A seasoned sustainability leader with a track record of creating and implementing large-scale sustainability initiatives will be the best applicant. They will be able to speak on behalf of the company’s sustainability initiatives internally and externally, identify business possibilities, and provide creative solutions. 

Responsibilities for Sustainability VPs

  • Support overall company goals
  • Engage in stakeholder engagement, including developing connections with important customers, suppliers, thought leaders, and NGO groups within the sustainability community
  • Collect data about existing sustainable and unsustainable processes within the organization
  • Research market demands, reporting requirements, upcoming compliance initiatives, and general risk management
  • Direct the creation and implementation of sustainability initiatives
  • Design training and education across the organization
  • Act as primary sustainability consultant to the sales and marketing organizations teams to develop sustainability narrative
  • Partner with sales teams to help determine strategic customer value proposition

Annual Salary: $157,527

Chief Operating Officer (COO)

The Chief Operating Officer, second in organizational responsibility only to the CEO, will create an operational plan that supports the President’s and the leadership team’s goals, taking into account risks and benefits. For the President and his leadership team to make wise decisions, they must comprehend and assess the economic, social, and environmental ramifications.

The COO sets standards for the organization by working with directors and middle managers. It ensures that they are reflected in processes, training, and the quality of output of goods and services. They might regularly receive data-based reports and summaries that offer snapshots of revenues, efficiency, and even waste that can be used to take action and boost the business’s success.

An MBA in sustainability management supports the building of sustainable relationships with stakeholders through corporate social responsibility. Chief operating officers collaborate with operations managers to set optimal personnel levels across the organization and guarantee that all departments have the tools and processes necessary for practical employee training. The COO may also collaborate with company analysts to evaluate physical assets and determine how they might be updated, repaired, or maintained.

Annual Salary: $144,617

Research & Development (R&D) Director

Research & Development Directors are the critical cross-functional partner. They align cross-functionally to drive decision-making, strategy implementation, and product development execution for the design, merchandising, and material teams. They collaborate with the product developers to carry out product development tasks in accordance with the team’s priorities and strategies.

With a keen eye on chances to be more responsive to consumers and demand, they support innovation in new approaches to market entry. They work with sustainability teams to continuously lower product collections’ carbon footprint and ensure that strict circular product requirements are maintained. An MBA in Sustainability Management is a great choice for professionals looking to enter into the R&D field. It’s great because it covers the foundations of sustainability management, which is important for organizations wanting to create sustainable products. But these programs are also best known for the foundational objectives of business management, which is needed for the long term goals of a company.

Annual Salary: $135,364

Product Development Director

Product managers are accustomed to changing markets and demands. The three elements of responsible stewardship—privacy, sustainability, and inclusion—have recently gained unprecedented attention from society. It is required by authorities, customers, and company bottom lines.

Product managers are particularly well-positioned to address these problematic issues due to their cross-functional, pivotal role. However, privacy, sustainability, and inclusiveness are not the only strategic priority areas, with the ever-increasing sustainability sector. With the saturation of sustainability products, product managers’ priorities need to also include performance. This means that product development directors need to not only leverage their products within the sustainability circles, they must also compete even in the traditional marketplace. This makes the need for top sustainability managers and leaders even more important.

Annual Salary: $120,994

Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) Director

Another top sustainability management career is the Environmental Health & Safety Director. An EHS Director oversees an organization’s adherence to local, state, and federal laws governing environmental health and safety. These directors make sure that environmental policy and procedure guides are constantly accessible and updated.

An environmental health and safety director ensures that all environmental, health, and safety rules are followed and keeps the organization informed of changes to the law or regulation. They guarantee that projects are finished on schedule and within budget. These directors must at least have a bachelor’s degree. But with the more management responsibility required, the higher business management degrees tend to be preferred or required. The director of environmental health and safety manages a minor departmental role within a more considerable departmental function. They compose budgets, rules, and procedures to support the functional infrastructure as well as functional strategy and specific objectives for the sub-function.

Annual Salary: $116,110

Sustainability Officer

A Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) is a senior executive who monitors a company’s future environmental strategy and evaluates its current environmental impact. The CSO’s duties include ensuring that a business meets or exceeds environmental standards, frequently by creating or putting into place “green” programs while continuing to be profitable. These executives are expected to have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in management or an area of environmental science, such as biology, to work in this capacity. The International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP) also offers professional certification in this field. Professionals develop the abilities needed for success by gaining managerial experience, especially in a corporate setting. 

Duties of a Sustainability Officer

  • Manage the company’s sustainability initiatives
  • Create and implement creative sustainability initiatives to achieve targets established by the company’s board of directors or third-party regulatory body
  • Produce or source packaging that is recyclable or biodegradable as well as create new items with sustainability in mind
  • Identify potential growth possibilities and risk areas by keeping an eye on market trends related to sustainability
  • Coordinate with third parties to ensure they share the company’s sustainability objectives
  • Conduct company-wide and departmental environmental impact evaluations
  • Serve as a knowledgeable resource for reporters and other news media about the most recent advancements in sustainability technology or practices
  • Develop reports and press releases on the business’s sustainability performance

Annual Salary: $100,000

Energy Manager

An Energy Manager monitors and manages an organization’s or facility’s energy efficiency. They put conservation measures into place, keep an eye on energy usage, evaluate company decisions for sustainability, and look for ways to improve energy efficiency. Engineers and consultants collaborate with energy managers. They serve as consultants and employees for corporations, industries, and governmental agencies.

The Energy Manager conducts energy efficiency audits on various buildings in higher education, government, healthcare, commercial, and industrial settings. They will check facilities to ensure they comply with all local and federal energy rules. The Energy Manager also keeps an eye on buildings to spot locations where energy is being wasted.

Energy managers develop and monitor the implementation of short- and long-term initiatives and strategies that boost energy efficiency, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and decrease wasteful use to maximize energy efficiency. They also put cost-cutting energy-related strategies into practice. They estimate energy savings, determine the objectives for each project, and calculate the budget during the development process. They collaborate with the engineering team to create and implement these safeguards. To ensure a building’s energy efficiency, they may also participate in its design and refurbishment.

Annual Salary: $89,433

Supply Chain Manager

Supply Chain Manager, also known as a logistics manager, ensures a company can procure raw materials, produce goods, store inventory, and distribute shipments to customers or wholesalers effectively. They must also negotiate commercial deals, interact with suppliers and distributors, and analyze logistics data to optimize the supply chain.

A supply chain manager should offer operational support and direction to maintain optimal efficiency. The following are some typical tasks for this position:

  • Employee mentoring and training, which includes reinforcement of safety rules
  • Develop supply chain management tactics that boost speed, efficiency, and sustainability
  • Manage and submit reports on security, cost control, and business expansion
  • Improve warehouse operations
  • Manage supplier interactions and agreements

Annual Salary: $84,586

Sustainability Engineer

Another top sustainability management career path is the Sustainability Engineer. As a Sustainability Engineer, professionals create and develop goods, structures, and systems to satisfy particular sustainability requirements or certifications, such as the LEED or BREEAM building standards. Specific responsibilities change depending on the particular sector, such as construction, agriculture, or manufacturing. Some engineers design electric automobiles or low-energy light bulbs as examples of their manufacturing efforts. Others work in civil engineering, coordinating and overseeing large-scale sustainable building projects for homes, businesses, parks, or factories.

A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in engineering and professional certifications are needed to become a sustainability engineer. Students can pursue several degrees, such as civil engineering, agricultural engineering, and mechanical engineering, because numerous sectors strongly emphasize sustainable design. Your degree has given you design and engineering abilities that you can utilize in sustainability-related jobs. Professional accreditations from groups like BREEAM or the Certified Sustainable Development Professional of the Association of Energy Engineers. An MBA in Sustainability Management is an additional credential for the sustainability engineers looking to pursue organizational management and leadership.

There are some significant differences between sustainability and environmental engineers, even though their roles and education frequently overlap. A sustainability engineer is often interested in a product’s complete design and manufacturing process, such as creating and testing more energy-efficient appliances or automotive fuels. On the other hand, an environmental engineer is more concerned with issues like site remediation, the depletion of natural resources, the results of pollution, and how to apply technical knowledge to solve these problems, such as developing more effective ways to recycle waste, reuse materials in new structures, or remanufactured products using existing parts.

Annual Salary: $78,397

Sustainability Consultant

According to sustainability specialists, energy use can be better optimized in specific sectors of a company. They will research and recommend technologies that combine economic, operational, and environmental advantages. Due to the increasing adoption of more ecologically friendly working practices by firms, sustainability consultants are in great demand. A fulfilling career path can be found as a sustainability consultant if you have knowledge of sustainability and want the flexibility of working independently. 

A sustainability consultant is a specialist who works on an as-needed basis to offer organizations and corporations guidance on becoming more socially and environmentally conscious. For this position, organizations may use alternative titles like “eco consultant,” “sustainable adviser,” “green consultant,” or “environmental consultant,” but the work generally is the same across industries. When businesses need more knowledge to create and carry out plans for more sustainable practices and products but don’t want to dedicate a full-time employee to the task, they turn to sustainability consultants.

Annual Salary: $68,179

In Conclusion

You’re considering returning to school and want to learn more about sustainability. But you still wonder: What can you genuinely achieve with a degree in sustainability? It’s a wise inquiry. The sustainability field might be challenging to define because of many career paths and opportunities. An MBA in Sustainability Management will prepare you to succeed in various professional pathways, whether you’re a U.S. Air Force electrician who sees opportunities to save waste and operating expenses or a science lab manager who wants to head your company’s sustainability program.

You have a lot of options, and everyone can make a difference. A good program equips you with what you need to execute long-term activities that address societal and environmental challenges, so there is anticipation for what will come next.

Picked a career? Now, you need to find a school! 25 Best MBA in Sustainability Management Degree Programs