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US Campuses Demand More Sustainability Professionals

We write about the intersection of sustainability and business every day at, but the trend is hardly restricted to the office or boardroom.

Universities across the U.S. are also reporting increased demand for sustainability practitioners on higher education campuses despite the down economy and high unemployment. In a recent survey from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), the vast majority of sustainability positions represented -- roughly 90 percent -- had been created in just the last few years.

"During the past five years we have seen more campus leaders show their commitment to sustainability by creating new sustainability positions," AASHE Executive Director Paul Rowland said in a statement this week. "Moreover, the people in these positions are finding them to be satisfying jobs that make a difference."

The bulk of those participating in the Higher Education Sustainability Staffing Survey (PDF) reported feeling satisfied and secure with their jobs. Eighty-nine percent said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their positions, while 84 percent reported feeling secure or very secure about their their jobs.

This mirrors the results from other green job surveys. The recent Carbon Salary Survey, for example, found that 73 percent of climate change professionals felt satisfied with their jobs and 76 viewed their jobs as secure. 

According to the Higher Education Sustainability Staffing Survey, 84 percent of respondents reported being in their positions for five years or less. About 46 percent assumed the role of sustainability manager or coordinator, followed by 20 percent who worked as sustainability directors or chief sustainability officers.

In terms of pay, sustainability directors or chief sustainability officers reported a median salary of $75,000, with most of the remaining positions commanding between $40,000 and $50,000.

Not surprisingly, a lack of financial resources was cited as the top challenge for sustainability professionals in the survey, most of whom are paid through general or operating funds.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user Genista.

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