How to Highlight Your Sustainability Knowledge

Tue, 2017-09-19 09:50

When you’re thinking about new and emerging industries, it can be difficult to find the right information that will lead you to a viable career plan.

Who are the authoritative organizations in this space?

When was this information last updated?

Will these processes and standards be long-lasting?

What training will prepare me for a successful career in this field?

We’ve seen it with the digital/tech industry. The devices we use now are different from those that were used 20 years ago, 10 years ago – in some cases, last year.

When I got my bachelor’s degree in Journalism in 2010, I knew I didn’t want to write for a newspaper. That’s a dying industry. I knew that communication was going more toward digital. But can you believe that, at the time, there were very few classes focused on digital media and website development? Twitter and Instagram were still fairly new, Snapchat didn’t exist, and very few people were thinking about designing websites for mobile and hand-held devices. Now all of these types of training classes exist – in fact, they’re a dime a dozen.

It’s been a little over 5 years, and I have to wonder how much value my college degree has in this growing and evolving industry.

A Shift in Education to Match a Shift in Industry

Technology isn’t the only industry experiencing this shift. Sustainability is as well.

In the beginning, sustainability was viewed very much as a trend. It was something that tree-hugging hippies did. But over the years, a number of studies have shown that sustainability leads to tangible benefits, including lower operating costs, lower energy bills, improved indoor air quality, and improved employee productivity. Now many professionals understand that corporate sustainability is a tried-and-true, credible industry.

Like digital communications, colleges and universities across the country are starting to develop four-year degrees focused on corporate sustainability. But I wonder, if sustainability can go from fad to industry in five years, how much value does a college degree offer, given that the industry could again radically change in five years?

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College degrees are valuable, don’t get me wrong. But in terms of real-world applicability and qualifications, a college degree pales in comparison to an industry certification because it’s a one-time achievement. You learn for four years, you graduate, and you’re done. There’s no need for continuing education and no requirement to “maintain” your college degree – depending on which industry, of course (engineers, for example, are a different story).

For emerging industries, perhaps a certification program is a stronger option than a college degree because field-specific certification programs often require continuing education in frequent intervals. This training is required to renew the certification and ensures that the credential holder has the most up-to-date information.

Earning a Certification in Corporate Sustainability

When it comes to corporate sustainability, the best certification program to consider comes from the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP).

The ISSP Certification program is a professional credentialing program for sustainability practitioners. Its designations are valid for 2-year intervals and require that credential holders complete at least 20 CEUs during that time period to maintain the designation.

The first step for all candidates is the ISSP Sustainability Associate Certification. This designation is open to individuals from all over the world who want to demonstrate their understanding of key sustainability principles and strategies.

Some of the knowledge areas that an ISSP Sustainability Associate would possess include:

  • An acute familiarity of the global, local, economic, and scientific drivers of corporate sustainability
  • The frameworks that support a successful corporate sustainability strategy
  • The interconnectivity of social justice and ecological systems
  • Familiarity with relevant trends, technologies, and approaches to sustainability

Much of this knowledge is timely – either being responsive to current environments or proactive in trying to make a situation better. Therefore, it’s important that sustainability practitioners not rely on a stagnant scope of knowledge but instead embrace the dynamic evolution of the industry they’ve committed themselves to.

For more information, see our ISSP Certification page, which further explains the value of this unique certification program as well as the eligibility requirements for the tiered credentials. You can also call us at 800-460-2575 to discuss your career and sustainability goals.