Career Development

What Does a Sustainability Officer Do?

Find out what a sustainability officer does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a sustainability officer.

Sustainability officers are responsible for managing the sustainability efforts of their organization. They may work with a variety of stakeholders—from executives to engineers to accountants—to develop and implement strategies that help their company reduce its environmental impact while also increasing its profitability.

Sustainability officers often have a background in environmental science or ecology, but they don’t always need one. In many cases, they simply have an interest in the environment and a desire to make a positive impact on it.

Sustainability Officer Job Duties

Sustainability officers have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Communicating with stakeholders to gather feedback on existing programs, encouraging participation in new initiatives, and monitoring program performance and outcomes
  • Gathering data on environmental factors such as pollution levels, greenhouse gas emissions, and water quality
  • Developing plans to reduce the organization’s carbon footprint through energy efficient building design, recycling programs, and use of alternative energy sources
  • Developing and implementing educational programs about environmental issues, such as climate change or biodiversity loss
  • Developing and implementing programs that reduce waste from the organization’s operations, including recycling programs, composting initiatives, and green purchasing programs
  • Conducting audits of company compliance with industry standards for environmental protection
  • Developing plans for the use of renewable energy sources, such as wind farms or solar panels
  • Developing plans for reforestation and soil conservation projects to improve environmental quality in an area
  • Monitoring the organization’s compliance with environmental laws and regulations

Sustainability Officer Salary & Outlook

Sustainability officers’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the size and industry of the company. They may also earn additional compensation in the form of bonuses or commissions.

  • Median Annual Salary: $69,500 ($33.41/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $143,000 ($68.75/hour)

The employment of sustainability officers is expected to decline over the next decade.

Employment of sustainability officers is expected to decline because many organizations have already implemented sustainability programs and policies. Organizations are increasingly looking for ways to reduce costs associated with sustainability initiatives, such as energy efficiency and recycling programs.

Related: Sustainability Officer Interview Questions and Answers

Sustainability Officer Job Requirements

A sustainability officer typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Sustainability officers are typically required to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in environmental science, sustainability, environmental studies, natural resources or a similar field. Some sustainability officers choose to pursue a master’s degree in sustainability or a related field.

Training & Experience: Sustainability officers typically receive on-the-job training in their role. They may learn about the company’s specific sustainability initiatives and how to implement them. They may also learn about the company’s specific industry and how to apply sustainability practices to that industry.

Certifications & Licenses: While certifications are not always required for the role of sustainability officer, they can be useful for candidates seeking to increase the likelihood of being hired by a new employer, increasing earning potential and furthering their knowledge of the industry.

Sustainability Officer Skills

Sustainability officers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication: Sustainability officers often communicate with a variety of stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers, investors and government officials. They must be able to communicate complex sustainability strategies in an easy-to-understand way. They also need to communicate effectively with employees to ensure they understand the company’s sustainability goals and how their work contributes to those goals.

Leadership: Sustainability officers often work with a team of other professionals to develop and implement sustainability initiatives. Leadership skills can help sustainability officers motivate their teams and encourage them to work towards the organization’s sustainability goals. Leadership skills can also help sustainability officers guide their teams in finding solutions to challenges they may face while working towards sustainability.

Problem-solving: Sustainability officers often work with other members of a company’s leadership team to develop and implement sustainability initiatives. They may also work with suppliers to help them develop more sustainable practices. This job requires the ability to identify and solve problems.

Critical thinking: Sustainability officers often work with other members of a company’s leadership team to develop and implement sustainability initiatives. Critical thinking skills can help sustainability officers analyze data, develop strategies and evaluate the success of their sustainability initiatives.

Research: Sustainability officers often research topics related to sustainability to help their organizations make informed decisions. They may research topics like energy consumption, recycling methods and alternative fuel sources. They may also research other companies’ sustainability practices to learn what has and hasn’t worked for them.

Sustainability Officer Work Environment

Sustainability officers work in a variety of settings, including corporate offices, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. They typically work full time and may occasionally work overtime to meet deadlines or attend evening or weekend meetings. Sustainability officers may travel to meet with clients or attend conferences. Some positions may require international travel. The work can be stressful at times, as sustainability officers strive to meet the goals of their organization while also dealing with the challenges of a rapidly changing environment.

Sustainability Officer Trends

Here are three trends influencing how sustainability officers work. Sustainability officers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for More Collaboration Between Sustainability and Finance

As sustainability becomes more important, businesses are looking for ways to integrate it into their operations. This is leading to a need for more collaboration between sustainability and finance departments.

Sustainability officers can capitalize on this trend by developing strong relationships with finance professionals and working together to find ways to make sustainability initiatives financially viable. In addition, they can also help to educate other employees about the benefits of sustainability and how it can improve the bottom line.

The Emergence of the Chief Sustainability Officer

The emergence of the chief sustainability officer (CSO) is a trend that is quickly gaining popularity in the business world. As companies become more aware of the importance of sustainability, they are looking for leaders who can help them develop and implement sustainable practices.

As a result, CSOs are in high demand and will continue to be in the years to come. They will need to be able to not only understand the latest sustainability trends but also how to implement them within their organizations.

More Focus on Employee Engagement

Employee engagement has become an increasingly important topic in recent years as businesses have realized the value of having employees who are passionate about what they do.

This trend is likely to continue in the future, as employers look for ways to keep their employees engaged and productive. Sustainability officers can play a key role in this by creating a workplace culture that promotes sustainability and encourages employees to be involved in green initiatives.

How to Become a Sustainability Officer

A sustainability officer career can be a great way to make a positive impact on the world. It’s important to consider the big picture when planning your career path as a sustainability officer. What are your personal values and what do you want to achieve? What are the current environmental and social issues facing society? What can you do to help solve these problems?

Once you have a clear idea of what you want to do, it’s time to start building your skills and experience. Take courses in sustainability, environmental science, and social justice. Volunteer at local environmental organizations and get involved in campaigns to protect the environment. Read up on the latest research on climate change, biodiversity loss, and other environmental issues.

Network with other sustainability professionals and stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the field.

Advancement Prospects

Sustainability officers typically advance in their careers by taking on additional responsibilities within their organization. As they gain experience and knowledge, they may be promoted to higher-level positions, such as manager or director. They may also choose to move to a different organization, either to take on a more senior role or to gain experience in a different sector. In some cases, sustainability officers may decide to start their own consulting business.

Sustainability Officer Job Description Example

As a key member of the environmental, health and safety team, the sustainability officer will be responsible for developing, implementing and managing programs designed to reduce the environmental impact of the company’s operations. The ideal candidate will have experience in environmental management, sustainability or a related field, and will be familiar with environmental regulations. They will be a strategic thinker with the ability to develop and implement programs that achieve results, and will have excellent communication and interpersonal skills.

The sustainability officer will be responsible for developing and managing the company’s recycling program, as well as identifying and implementing other initiatives to reduce the company’s environmental impact. They will also be responsible for developing and delivering training on environmental and sustainability issues to employees.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Develop and implement sustainability policies, programs, and initiatives in alignment with the company’s strategic plan and goals
  • Conduct research and analysis on trends, best practices, and opportunities related to sustainability
  • Engage with internal and external stakeholders on sustainability issues, including employees, shareholders, investors, customers, suppliers, and the general public
  • Serve as a resource and expert on sustainability for all company departments
  • Develop and oversee implementation of sustainability reporting, including environmental, social, and governance (ESG) indicators
  • Manage data collection and analysis for sustainability reporting
  • Coordinate and manage third-party verification of sustainability reports
  • Prepare annual sustainability report for publication
  • Disseminate findings and recommendations from sustainability reports to key internal and external audiences
  • Advocate for sustainable business practices within the company and externally with key stakeholders
  • Collaborate with other departments on integrating sustainability into core business functions
  • Monitor compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and voluntary commitments related to sustainability

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in environmental science, sustainability, or related field
  • 5+ years professional experience in sustainability, environmental management, or related field
  • Demonstrated success developing and implementing sustainability programs
  • Strong project management skills
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office suite and other relevant software programs

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in environmental science, sustainability, or related field
  • LEED AP or other professional sustainability certification
  • Experience working in higher education or the public sector
  • Familiarity with climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies


What Does a Media Analyst Do?

Back to Career Development

What Does a College Football Coach Do?