Living anywhere in the greater Seattle area just sort of comes with a commitment to sustainability baked right in to the culture. But the Emerald City’s focus on conservation, preservation, and the pursuit of a smaller carbon footprint extends much further than just the culture born of the city’s green surroundings.
In fact, thanks to its efforts to improve air quality, combat climate change, derive energy from renewable sources, and increase its green spaces, Seattle has earned itself a reputation as a sustainability leader, not just in Washington but throughout the Pacific Northwest, across the nation.
Today, there’s plenty to get excited about in Seattle: About 90% of Seattle is powered by hydroelectric energy; it’s home to the Bullitt Center, the greenest commercial building in the world; and nearly 70% of all households here recycle their waste – that’s light years ahead of the average national recycling rate of 34%.
Exciting professional opportunities in sustainability in Seattle and throughout Washington State aren’t just available – they’re abundant, and with the right education and training, you can join Washington’s sustainability movement and begin making a difference yourself.
Sustainability Jobs Available in Washington with the Right Degree
There’s more non-profit organizations and government agencies in Seattle per square mile than anywhere else in the world, and every one of them rely on experts to achieve goals aimed at the conservation and preservation of natural resources, the implementation of sustainable architecture and infrastructure, and a whole lot more.
For example, the Washington Environmental Council has been a leader in sustainability in the Evergreen State for more than 50 years. This advocacy organization has been instrumental in getting laws passed that support the state’s environmental health, including the Shoreline Management Act and the Growth Management Act. It’s also the epicenter of the Environmental Priorities Coalition, the coming together of more than 20 groups that select and prioritize issues to be addressed by the state legislature.
EarthShare Washington is another big name in conservation here. This organization brings together citizens, private businesses, and communities to address issues related to the protection of the planet’s health. This chapter of EarthShare, a national nonprofit, addresses issues related to climate change; forests, parks, and land conservation; public health; water resources; and wildlife protection.
There are also many organizations throughout Washington that are committed to achieving a better food system by addressing food insecurity, improving access to locally grown food, and promoting sustainable agriculture practices. Just some of the organizations in Washington focused on these issues include 21 Acres Center for Local Food and Sustainable Living, Community Alliance for Global Justice, and City Fruit.
Master’s in Sustainability Available Through Schools in Washington
A master’s degree in sustainability is your opportunity to advance your knowledge in sustainability or focus your current profession on issues related to sustainability practices.
Washington State University offers an MS in Crop Science, which examines issues related to solving real-world problems in crop production. This program provides students with the option of further specializing their degree on plant genetics and crop breeding, crop physiology, or crop ecology, management and production. The Department of Crop and Soil Sciences is also home to outstanding research opportunities in areas like crop production systems, soil biology, soil management, and weed ecology, science, and management.
The University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy and Governance offers an MPA in Environmental Policy and Management, which is designed to prepare students for positions as analysts, managers, and leaders in a variety of organizations that specialize in environmental and natural resources issues. Just some of the topics studied in this program include environmental risk and health, air and water pollution, climate and energy policy, and water resources.
The University of Washington offers a number of master’s programs aimed at sustainability in engineering, including Construction, Energy, and Sustainable Infrastructure; Civil Engineering; Environmental Engineering; and Geotechnical Engineering. UW’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is recognized as one of the top graduate programs in engineering; it was ranked 12th for environmental engineering and 16thfor civil engineering in 2018 by U.S. News & World Report.
Sustainability Bachelor Degree Programs in Washington
Bachelor’s degrees provide the perfect introduction to sustainability or fields within the study of sustainability. Whether you’re preparing to enter the workforce, or have plans for graduate school in your future, sustainability bachelor’s degrees will provide you with the solid course of education that’ll get you where you want to be.
In Washington, a number of colleges and universities offer undergraduate courses of study in sustainability, including Bellingham’s Western Washington University, which offers a BA in Business and Sustainability, Washington State University, which offers a major in Organic and Sustainable Agriculture, and Seattle University, which offers a number of undergraduate majors in sustainability through its Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability, including:
- BS in Civil Engineering with Environmental specialization
- BS in Environmental Science
- BS in Marine and Conservation Biology
- BA in Environmental Studies
Online Sustainability Degrees Offered Through Schools in Washington
Not all sustainability programs in Washington require face-to-face learning. In fact, there is a growing number of online sustainability degrees, both in Washington and throughout the nation, that allow busy, working professionals and other nontraditional learners to earn their undergraduate or graduate degree in sustainability through interactive, online learning platforms.
For example, the University of Washington offers the online Master’s in Sustainable Transportation and Master’s in Energy Infrastructure through its Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering. These programs feature courses taught by department faculty and expert professionals, plentiful opportunities for engaging with your peers and instructors, all with the flexibility of a fully online course of study.