In the past, the practice of sustainability has mainly dealt with the areas of environmental conservation and protection. In recent years many organizations have taken note of sustainability and have been implementing sustainability strategies in order to run more efficiently, cut costs, and increase profits. In 2009, the study "2009 Greening of Corporate America" was released showing that over 75% of the large firms responding were actively engaging in ongoing sustainability practices. The number of firms practicing sustainability had doubled from just three years previously. While organizations are now seeing sustainability as an important part of business, they are also beginning to make room for staff positions like Director of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Manager in order to create and maintain programs in sustainability.
Some of the highest-level positions in sustainability are Chief Sustainability Officers and Environmental Vice Presidents. These executive-based sustainability positions are often staffed by competent leaders with experience in running organizations and teams of directors. Median salaries for positions like these have been reported to top $160,000. Other positions include General and Operations Managers who have a spectrum of responsibilities in addition to sustainability leadership. Positions at this level can demand nearly $100,000 in annual salaries. Other careers in sustainability can include Industrial Production Mangers and Transportation and Distribution Managers. Sustainability management at this level also sees high median salaries of over $80,000 annually.
While most professionals in sustainability and environmental management have achieved at least the minimum of an undergraduate degree in business management or environmental science, large organizations and firms look favorably on candidates who have acquired a graduate's degree like an online Master's of Business Administration in the field of Environmental Sustainability. For many, an MBA is viewed as the gold standard of degrees for business professionals working as leaders of teams and organizations.
One highly ranked online MBA with an emphasis in Environmental Management is offered at the Walker School of Business & Technology at Webster University. The business school, which receives its business accreditation through the ACBSP, has designed this 55-credit hour program to include such courses as Environmental Science, Environmental Law, Environmental Regulations and Compliance Auditing, Environmental Accounting, Management of Land and Water Resources, Management of Air Quality, Waste Management and Pollution Control, and Environmental Risk Management and Strategies. Priced at $42,900, this program has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best online MBAs in the nation.
Another highly respected online Master's of Business Administration with a specialization in Sustainable Enterprise is offered at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Kenan-Flagler Business School. This nationally-recognized program consists of 66-credit hours. "Emphasizing the âtriple bottom line' of profit, society and the environment, this concentration applies to a wide range of career objectives across virtually all sectors, as the need to remain profitable without sacrificing social good or the environment is universal. In this pathway, students learn about topics such as the global context of business and the principles of the sustainable enterprise. In addition, students may benefit from some of the electives featured in the entrepreneurship track, such as innovation and social entrepreneurship in developing economies." Courses within this program include Global Marketing, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Developing Economics, and Sustainable Enterprise.