When you’re looking to transition to a green job, one of the most intuitive things to do is to seek a new qualification that will improve your CV and chances of getting an interview.
There are a mind-blowing array of possibilities when it comes to qualifications. Some people with the time and resources will choose a regular graduate program, which alone offers a huge range of options: for example, the CJB Network portal lists well over 1000 environmental degrees (then think of all other subjects that intersect with green jobs, and the list expands to thousands more).
Some people with more modest resources may choose a shorter certificate program. Again, there are many certificates that relate to different parts of the green economy, but some popular certificates include the Global Reporting Initiative Certification, The LEED Green Associate Credential, or the Fundamentals of Sustainability Accounting (FSA) Credential. But even shorter qualifications can come at a significant cost.
A quick piece of advice when it comes to investing money in certificates is to have a genuine sense of which certificate is relevant to your job-seeking goals. If possible, it’s also a good idea to speak with potential employers and find out whether they actually value the certificate you’re contemplating, because the unfortunate truth is that many certificates are a waste of time and money.
For example, if you go to coursera and search on the word “sustainability” you’ll find many free courses such as:
- Introduction to Sustainability from The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- The Age of Sustainable Development from Columbia University
- Renewable Energy: Fundamentals and Job Opportunities from The University at Buffalo
If you go to edX and search on the word “environment” you’ll find many free courses such as:
- Introduction to Environmental Science from Dartmouth College
- Energy Within Environmental Constraints from Harvard University
- Climate Change Communication from The Smithsonian Institution
You can find free courses for almost any subject you can imagine, whether generalist or more technical.
You can also upgrade to paid options that include feedback from instructors, professional certificate programs (such as the Professional Certificate in Environmental Management for Sustainability from University of Maryland) or certificates that can be cross-credited with a regular Masters degree (such as the MasterTrack Certificate in Sustainability and Development from University of Michigan).
So, while a traditional paid certificate may well be a good investment, do your research to make sure you’re going to get a good return on that investment. If you’re unsure, the many free courses available on coursera and edX may be a good alternative: they will increase your knowledge, give you something to put on your CV and demonstrate interest in the subject, all without running down your savings or taking on debt.