Working From Your Heart: Environmental Careers

Reprinted from the Los Angeles Green Pages


You’d love to change the world – but by the time you get off work, you’re too tired to change anything but the TV channel. You need to make a living and pay the rent, but you wish you could find a job that rewarded more than your bank account.

These jobs, however, often aren’t advertised and job hunters must aggressively use every available contact and resource to find – and land – an interesting position. Competition is tough for such jobs because plenty of highly qualified, well-connected people desire work in organizations with objectives higher than the bottom line.

Mission-driven jobs (largely in the non-profit sector) are hard to find primarily because openings are poorly publicized, competition is intense for desirable jobs and job hunters do not use the many resources that are available to them. But if you are clearly committed to a cause and are willing to volunteer, or in some other way prove your usefulness to the organization, you can find out where the openings are and eventually land a paid position.

There are many obvious incentives to try to break into the non-profit sector. Non-profit organizations offer a relatively casual work environment, where status is often defined less by hierarchy and credentials than by the work produced. And they offer opportunities to work with people who share common goals and beliefs, on issues you care about.

Working for non-profit, however, is not for everyone. The potential for burnout is significant and the pay is generally 75% less than the pay for a similar private sector job. The key to happiness and success in a non-profit job is commitment to the issues you work on. It pays to learn as much as you can about the issues that concern you. Employers say you often won’t get the job unless you are familiar with the organization’s cause.

Whatever route you choose – volunteering, interning, training or an entry-level job – make the most out of the many resources designed to help people find their way through the non-profit sector job maze. Some of the best places to find listings of non-profit and environmental career opportunities are described below.

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Environmental Career Resources:


Minnesota Council of Nonprofits


Sustainable Communities Team

MN Office of Environmental Assistance

520 Lafayette Rd. N, 2nd Floor

St. Paul, MN 55155-4100



Cornell University Center for the Environment

200 Rice Hall, Cornell University

Ithaca, NY 14853

E Jobs

Green Dream Jobs


Action Without Borders, Inc.

350 5th Ave. Suite 6614

New York, NY 10118


The Job Seeker

Specializing in natural resource and environmental vacancies nationwide.

24313 Destiny Avenue

Tomah, WI 54660



The Nature Conservancy

4245 N. Fairfax Dr. Suite 100

Arlington, VA 22203-1606



Environmental Careers

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