Coronavirus Update

For the safety of our community, UWPCE programs will be taught remotely for the 2020-21 academic year.

For more information, see our Coronavirus FAQ

Three Jobs for a Sustainable Future Three jobs that have both a bright outlook and a huge impact on sustainability
Three Jobs for a Sustainable Future Three jobs that have both a bright outlook and a huge impact on sustainability

If your life goals involve saving the planet, there has never been a better time to pursue a sustainability career. Here’s a look at three jobs that have both a bright outlook and a huge impact on sustainability — plus the UW Professional & Continuing Education programs that’ll help you land one of these roles.   

Transportation Planner

Transportation planners evaluate a community’s short- and long-term transportation needs and develop transportation plans and programs.

According to O*NET, jobs for transportation planners, are projected to grow by 11% nationally and in Washington over the next decade. “There are positions at all levels across the country, from the federal government to states to counties to cities to small towns, as well as with firms in the private sector,” said Ed McCormack, director of the Master of Sustainable Transportation program.

Transportation planners who focus on sustainability aim to promote alternatives to motorized travel and make communities more transit-friendly, among other goals.

The impact can be significant. “Our society is dealing with concerns about climate change, human health, energy usage and resources and social equity and mobility,” said McCormack. “Sustainable transportation systems allow us to move people and goods more effectively and directly address societal concerns.” 

Interested in learning how to develop sustainable solutions to transportation challenges? Check out our UW Certificate in Sustainable Transportation: Planning & Livable Communities. For a more in-depth education, you can continue your studies with the Master of Sustainable Transportation.

GIS Analyst

GIS analysts use powerful spatial database technology called geographic information systems (GIS) to support the work of scientists, engineers, planners and other professionals. GIS allows you to gather, manipulate, analyze and apply data over specific geographic locations, making it indispensable for modeling the environmental impacts of human-driven activities.  

“Achieving sustainability requires the ability to analyze and understand the relationship of the land and the impacts of human activities,” said Harvey Arnone, an instructor for the UW Certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

Arnone, who is also a GIS and CADD manager for the City of Seattle, says GIS gets a lot of use in urban planning. “We use GIS for virtually every aspect of our business, from managing property and utility assets to planning future growth and transportation needs,” said Arnone.   

The number of jobs for GIS analysts is expected to rise by 10% nationally and 58% in Washington in the next decade, promising lots of opportunities.

“Many of the students in the program have a passion for the natural environment and go on to find work for engineering firms, government agencies or nonprofits where they focus largely on environmental and sustainability issues,” said Arnone.

If you’d like to get into the GIS field, take a look at the UW Certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Facility Manager

Facility managers take care of the day-to-day operations of a building, oversee renovations and ensure that tenants are safe and happy. The choices that facility managers make regarding heating and air conditioning, lighting, paper and waste disposal have a significant impact on the carbon footprint of a business.

“Sustainability is bigger than what one individual can do,” said Robert Blakey, instructor in the UW Certificate in Facility Management. “Part of the job is educating those 500 occupants of a building on how to better manage their resources, for example, by reducing the number of documents they print and turning off the lights on a sunny day.”

Facility managers are currently one of the hottest jobs in the region, with O*NET predicting the number of positions will grow 15% between 2016 and 2026 in Washington state. “Just take a look at how many cranes there are on the Seattle horizon,” said Blakey. “Each of those buildings will need a facility manager.”

Want to start a career in facility management? Explore the UW Certificate in Facility Management.

Advancing Your Education

If you’re looking to further your career in a sustainability-related field, UW Professional & Continuing Education can help. Check out these relevant UW certificates and degrees.


For more career tips and industry trends, visit the News & Features section of our website, and subscribe to our email list. To learn more about UW Professional & Continuing Education certificates, degrees and courses, explore your options or contact us.


  Stay up to date with emails featuring career tips, event invitations and program updates.       Sign Up Now