Energy and Sustainability Policy
Program Office

Job Planning and Opportunities

The breadth and depth of the ESP programs prepare students to compete for a career in some of the fastest growing job markets in the country and the world. Possibilities include management and policy-related roles in:

  • foreign and domestic energy and sustainability policy analysis
  • corporate and institutional sustainability management
  • legislative or regulatory affairs
  • permitting and compliance concerning energy systems and environmental factors
  • sales engineering and post-sales account management
  • marketing and public relations for energy-related government agencies and non-governmental organizations
  • strategy and leadership for firms and organizations of all types with energy and sustainability interests

ESP graduates bring knowledge, skills and attitudes valued by commercial firms (established and start-up), government agencies, public utilities, regulatory bodies, non-profit and advocacy groups (regional and international), and energy and trade organizations, to name but a few. Graduates may also pursue advanced degrees leading to careers in fields such as education, law, or business administration.

Energy and Policy

Driven by worldwide environmental concerns, regional economics and national security issues, opportunity and promise abound for sustainability focused innovation—from technology and infrastructure, to product and policy. Wise old money, new venture capital and public dollars are all pouring into projects to advance our use of clean renewable energy sources, distribute power reliably and efficiently, manage our usage in a smarter way, redirect our transportation system and build new green products in new green ways.

For this new economy to flourish, governments around the world understand that market conditions need encourage environmentally responsible, financially sound long-term investment. Policy that addresses both environmental and economic interests includes ideas such as cap-and-trade, renewable portfolio standards, SmartGrid, net metering, time-of-use pricing, demand management, CAFE standards, new financing models such as Property Accessed Clean Energy (PACE) and Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), and energy- and sustainability-informed tax policy at all levels of government, among many, many others.

Your Career Goals

Confucius said, "Do what you enjoy and never work a day in your life." Do you like working with people, with technology, with your hands, in an office or in the field...or a little of it all? Are you a good communicator; do you enjoy working with data and tools? What have been your most meaningful work experiences so far? What do you know you don't like? We can help you understand the ESP career options that best fit your interests and abilities. To discuss ESP and your career plans, please contact Haley Sankey, ESP instructor and adviser. We look forward to hearing from you. 

Is Sustainability the Next Hot Job Skill?

(Source: Abby Lombardi on March 3, 2014 in Hiring Demand Indicators)

"Reducing your footprint" and "going green" are phrases we hear every day. Being sustainable is a hot topic in many aspects – from personal lifestyles to the way companies operate their businesses. Sustainability jobs are becoming more in-demand as companies look for partnerships and product lines that not only involve “green” initiatives, but also help their bottom line. Over the past 4 years, sustainability jobs have more than doubled in demand. In January 2010, there were about 300 jobs available online. In January 2014, there were more than 700 unique positions available in the US, setting a new high in demand.

What kinds of jobs are looking for Sustainability Specialists? Many of the positions advertised are in management roles, which include general management, operational management, or a divisional management (like marketing.) Management positions accounted for about 28% of hiring demand in January 2014. Business and financial occupations, like Management Analysts or Market Research Analysts, had the second highest demand and represented about 24% of hiring. Architecture and engineering, as well as science occupations were also among the fields with the most demand.

The most commonly advertised unique job titles are:

  1. Sustainability Consultant
  2. Sustainability Coordinator
  3. Sustainability Intern
  4. Director Sustainability
  5. Sustainability Analyst
  6. Sustainability Specialist
  7. Project Manager Sustainability
  8. Sustainability Program Manager
  9. Sustainability Engineer
  10. Energy sustainability Specialist

Start now with PSU Career Services

Penn State offers extensive career services designed specifically for on-line World Campus students…you! The Energy and Sustainability Policy program is committed to supporting your job search and gainful employment. One of the most important things we can do is help you connect with the many career resources Penn State has available.

Start with World Campus Career Services. Here you’ll see a listing of many resources, including tools for practicing your interview skills, virtual libraries of resources, social media connections, webinars and so forth, but most importantly, you’ll see contact info for Lynn Atanasoff and Karen Armstrong. They are the Penn State World Campus Career Counselors dedicated to working specifically with Penn State on-line students. Our program works with them and they are ready to work with you—refining your career direction, assessing your resumes and connecting you with the tools and resources you need.

You are strongly encouraged to contact Lynn or Karen now—there’s no need to wait until you are close to graduating. Get a running start on career options, businesses and organizations you may like to work with, resume prep and interviewing skills.

Career References and Resources

Career fairs at Penn State A list of annual career fairs held on campus and online.

Salary, Guides & Handouts Listing of many resources available from Penn State Career Services

WetFeet and Vault On-line career library and guides, PSU userid required

Green Career Information Produced by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Information available for occupations includes: wages, expected job prospects, what workers do on the job, working conditions, and necessary education, training, and credentials. Many additional resources with new articles added periodically.

O*NET Online An interactive application for exploring and searching occupations, developed by the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration. See O*NET Online results for Energy and Sustainability Policy! The O*NET database is continually updated using the comprehensive set of references listed here Greening of the World of Work: O*NET Project’s Book of References, which you may also find useful.

US Department of Energy's Clean Energy Jobs and Career Planning 2022 Guide to Green Careers - All You Need to Know

Networking and Professional Associations

LionLink Networking A professional networking program that links Penn State students and alumni with alumni volunteer Career Coaches.

Penn State Career Connections (LinkedIn Group)

Penn State Alumni Association (LinkedIn Group)

Penn State World Campus (LinkedIn Group)

The International Society of Sustainability Professionals. Many free resources, discounted student membership rates.

Job Postings

Nittany Lion Alumi Career Network The premiere job site bringing together Penn State alumni and the employers seeking to hire them. Whether you are searching for your first job or are looking for opportunities to advance your career, use this resource to search for jobs with employers looking for PSU graduates.

Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment also provide a list of job boards and career planning resources

Government Employment listed by Penn State Career Services

Peace Corps listed by Penn State Career Services

Green Careers Guidelines and resources, developed by Penn State Career Services

Live feeds (also available real time, anytime on ESP home page)

Other recommended sources

Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Ed (AASHE)

Business for Social Responsibility (BSR)

Environmental Career Center

Clean Edge, Inc

Green Jobs Network



Solartoday Job Board



New America