campus sustainability

Do your campus sustainability positions stack up?


New survey reveals an increase in campus sustainability offices in 2017.

Campus sustainability positions are evolving as more institutions report housing sustainability offices or centers, according to a new report.

The 2017 Salaries & Status of Sustainability Staff in Higher Education report examines the nature of sustainability positions at colleges and universities in the United States, Canada and other countries.

The report offers insights into salaries, funding, supervision, job satisfaction, challenges and more.

Institutions reporting at least one office, center, or institute with “sustainability” in the name increased to 76 percent in 2017, up from 71 percent in 2015.

(Next page: Increases in campus sustainability positions and salaries)

The vast majority of survey respondents’ positions (89 percent) were full-time, and most of these were in salaried rather than hourly positions (81 percent). These results are slightly higher than employment status results in 2015. Percentages varied based on position type, with Sustainability Coordinators having the largest proportion of full-time hourly and part-time positions (30 percent).

Research uncovered an incremental increase in median salaries overall (5 percent) and across virtually all position type, along with an increase in rate of benefits for both full time and part-time employees from 2015 to 2017.

“We are pleased to see the continued maturation of the campus sustainability career field indicated by this year’s results,” said AASHE Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “Our field has a bright future ahead of it.”

Responses to the 48-question survey were collected from campus sustainability officers as well as a number of more focused campus sustainability positions such as recycling/waste staff and sustainable energy staff. Since 2008, AASHE has been conducting a biennial survey of higher education sustainability positions.

There also is a steady increase in the number of campus sustainability professionals who have held their positions for 6 to 10 years (20 percent in 2017, 17 percent in 2015 and 10 percent in 2012).

2017 respondents had very similar education levels as compared to 2015 and 2012, with 96 percent holding at least a Bachelor’s degree (identical in 2015 and 2012) and 71 percent holding at least a Master’s degree (compared to 66 percent in 2015 and 65 percent in 2012). There was a notable increase in respondents with Master’s degrees and a corresponding decrease in respondents whose highest level of education was a Bachelor’s degree.

Laura Ascione