Sustainability Staffing In Higher Education

Despite the tough economic climate, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE’S) 2010 survey of campus sustainability staff reveals a workforce of people who report a sense of job security and feel satisfied with the work they are doing.

AASHE’s “Higher Education Sustainability Staffing Survey”, which is aavailable for free download on the association’s website, is an effort to provide the campus community with a greater understanding of sustainability related positions. The online survey of campus sustainability staff was conducted in winter 2010.

The results build and expand upon previous surveys by AASHE that focused on sustainability officers specifically.

The 2010 survey was expanded to include a greater range of job titles related to sustainability. “During the past five years we have seen more campus leaders show their commitment to sustainability by creating new sustainability positions,” said Paul Rowland, AASHE executive director. “Moreover, the people in these positions are finding them to be satisfying jobs that make a difference.”

With 433 completed surveys, the results offer a comprehensive look at the demographics, roles, salaries, and positions of college and university sustainability related staff in the U.S. and Canada.

A few notable findings included:

  • Of the 433 positions represented in this survey, only 49 had been created prior to 2004, indicating an exponential growth of campus sustainability in recent years.
  • A majority (89%) of respondents are either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their position.
  • Also, a vast majority (84%) of respondents rated their level of job security as either “secure” or “very secure.”
  • The median salary for “sustainability director or chief sustainability officer” ($75,000) was the highest of all campus sustainability position types. Median salaries for most other positions fell between $40,000 and $50,000.
  • At 81%, general/operating funds are by far the most cited funding source for sustainability positions.