The Converging Paths of Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainability: How You Can Make Helping the Planet a Career 

Tiffany Stronghart October 4, 2023
Hands holding a seedling and a tree

With rising temperatures, poor air quality warnings, violent storms and fires such as the ones in Maui and British Columbia, it’s clear that a climate emergency is upon us. If you’re concerned about the health of the environment and how to strengthen our communities while tackling the ‘new normal’ of climate change, now is a great time to consider a career in sustainability or biodiversity and conservation management.

But which path should you take? Consider some of these questions:

Do you love hands-on environmental work outdoors or in the lab?
If your interests lie directly with natural resources and you love hands-on environmental work outdoors or in the lab, you might consider enrolling in the master’s degree program or pursuing a certificate in the Biodiversity Conservation and Management program where you will learn about managing complex conservation challenges like climate change, species extinction, habitat loss, air and water pollution, intensive agriculture, and erosion. 

If you envision your ideal day at work is spent out in the field, designing scientific methods for collecting, managing, and interpreting environmental data, while addressing conservation challenges and coming up with ways to build consensus on conservation efforts, this program could be for you. Your work will focus on the human aspect of conservation issues, and you’ll develop skills and knowledge in conservation ecology, data analytics and visualization, spatial mapping, emerging conservation technologies, conservation research and monitoring, policy implementation, conservation leadership and community engagement.

Do you believe the solution to the climate crisis lies in doing business better?
Business has traditionally focused on profit as the bottom line metric of success, but that is changing as more companies focus on what is known as the triple bottom line: people, planet, and prosperity. By changing how we do business, from sourcing to supply chain to products, we can promote corporate social responsibility and help the planet.

If helping organizations achieve success through sustainability strategy integration is of interest, consider enrolling in the bachelor’s or master’s degree program in Sustainable Management, where you’ll learn how to build resilience and long-term success into any organization while supporting a healthy environment, strong community and prosperous economy. 

Career growth trajectories: Where do you want to end up?
Whether you choose a career in sustainable business or biodiversity and conservation management, you’ll find an increasing number of opportunities to work for the greater good. As society becomes more focused on ways to protect our environment, there will be more opportunities to work in both as part of existing job roles or future responsibilities.  

Sustainability specialists, who work in a business capacity, are number two on a list of this year’s fastest growing jobs from World Economic Forum (WEF), and three sustainability-related roles (sustainability analyst, sustainability specialist, and sustainability manager) are on the top 10 list of the fastest growing job postings on LinkedIn from WEF 2018-2022. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of environmental scientists and specialists and employment of conservation scientists and foresters is projected to grow 5 percent from 2021 to 2031. IBIS World reports that regulatory requirements and rising pressure on corporations to appear eco-friendly will likely benefit the conservation industry and the introduction of stricter environmental legislation will likely be the primary driver of conservation industry revenue growth–potentially joining the work of biodiversity conservation to sustainable business goals. The World Economic Forum says “nature-positive economic models in key sectors” could provide up to 400 million jobs by 2030.

Where can you get the education you need to break into this field?
Sustainability is increasingly becoming part of every job across various industries. Whichever path you choose, we offer continuing education options that include bachelor’s, master’s, and certificates in Sustainable Management, and a master’s degree and certificates in Biodiversity and Conservation Management. 

Choosing the right continuing education to achieve your career goals can take time. When evaluating a program, consider the skills and knowledge developed through the courses/and how you’ll apply those concepts directly to your work. 

The Biodiversity Conservation and Management and Sustainable Management degree and certificate programs are similar–for example, they both focus on communicating the complexity of environmental issues to diverse audiences and developing and leading sustainability or conservation projects/initiatives–but each program also focuses on the specific skills and knowledge you’ll need to have depending on your chosen career pathway. 

Biodiversity Conservation and Management focuses on developing skills in conservation science that prepare you for the types of jobs you’ll find in the field. For example, a master’s degree in Biodiversity Conservation and Management will open the doors to non-profit work, scientific research, environmental organizations, public policy, or government organization roles. You’ll be qualified for roles such as policy analyst, conservation manager or director, a geospatial or hydrologic technician, or work in environmental and community outreach/education. This program is offered through UW-Green Bay, which has been dubbed “Eco U,” and has a long history of forward-thinking conservation practices since the university was founded in 1956.

Though sustainable business practice is rooted in environmental science, it can apply to many roles in a variety of organizations (and business careers. 

The bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate programs in Sustainable Management can prepare you for  jobs in the private, non-profit, or public sector, because the curriculum focuses on comprehensive systems for broader sustainability work (think triple bottom line: people, planet, prosperity) that can apply  to a broad range of  industries. Jobs you may aspire to include Chief Sustainability Officer, sustainable facilities manager, ESG specialist, corporate social responsibility leader, sustainability analyst, sustainability marketing, sustainable food and agriculture specialist, environmental manager, and more. Check out more career information here. In the Sustainable Management program, you’ll learn about climate change, renewable energy, ecology, natural resource management, and much more. You’ll also learn economics, organizational behavior, change management and leadership skills, and more. 

Erin Bauer, a 2023 Sustainable Management master’s degree graduate, was able to leverage the experience she had in business and in retail to succeed in her program. She plans to apply what she’s learned on the job as a product development manager at a nonprofit organization focused on quality. 

In the Master of Science in Biodiversity and Conservation Management degree program, you’ll learn about conservation ecology, biodiversity, data analytics, spatial mapping, and more. This program offers three stackable certifications: Biodiversity and Conservation Science; Conservation Data Management and Analysis; and Conservation Leadership, Policy, and Management. By completing all three certificates plus a capstone, you will receive a master’s degree. Or, complete one or more certificates to focus on a specific skill set or knowledge base. 

“For those with an interest in sustainability, there are two distinct online program options available where you can enhance and utilize your skills on biodiversity conservation and management or in leading businesses and organizations toward a more sustainable future,” said John Katers, Dean, UW-Green Bay College of Engineering, Science and Technology. “In both, a combination of science, business, and policy skills are necessary to assess the challenges at hand and identify sustainable outcomes that can be readily implemented. They offer two distinct pathways toward rewarding careers in the field and in the boardroom as we continue to focus on a future that values people, planet, and prosperity.”

Connecting with an enrollment adviser can also help you better understand which program is the best fit for you and your career goals. Our advisers can help you navigate the admission process, answer questions and point you to additional resources. For more information, contact an enrollment adviser today.

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Programs: Biodiversity Conservation and Management, Sustainable Management