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We’ve all participated in green initiatives throughout high school from waste management to tree planting. And even before that, we were taught and told to memorize the “three R’s”: reuse, reduce, and recycle. For those who volunteered their time and paid close attention to those valuable lessons comes great opportunity to specialize in environmental practices through graduate school.

Green management grad programs

It’s an opportunity to put your green thumb to work in the business sector. Conestoga College offers a graduate certificate in green management where students have the opportunity to focus on sustainability practices within an organization.

“It’s been fantastic because our students are all high achievers and they’ve been able to give us some feedback too in terms of moving the program forward,” says Laura Matheson, program coordinator and faculty of the green management program at Conestoga College.

With the program in its inaugural year, students learn all aspects of sustainability through its history, business cases, and marketing strategies, and are already starting to consider their career options. “Some students will be pursuing an educational type role, where they’d like to work with youth,” says Matheson. “There are a couple of students that would like to work with an organization as a sustainability coordinator, [and] then there are a couple students who’d like to work as a business manager with a focus on sustainability.”

Amy Kendall, chair of the school of business and hospitality at Conestoga College, says students will benefit from studying green management because of its novelty. “In terms of what they’re going to learn, it’s new to businesses. As much as sustainability has been talked about for a while, organizations haven’t necessarily adapted it,” she says, adding that this opens up career opportunities for students in the future.

“If you’re very passionate about social and environmental issues,” says Matheson, “this can be a really good focus for you because you have the opportunity to make that change within an organization.”

MA in environmental engineering

If you’re interested in being immersed in the environment and learning about topics like water treatment and waste management, as well as carrying out environmental impact assessments, then an education in environmental engineering at the Ottawa-Carleton Institute for Environmental Engineering might be your match.

The institute offers a master’s program in environmental engineering through three joint engineering departments at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University.

While most lab work is done in the undergraduate level, the master’s program’s primary focus is on theory with the opportunity to work in the field. “At the graduate level, technically lab work is not a structured part of the courses, but depending on the course they tend to do term projects, some of which may involve field work,” says Karman.

With a master’s, there are a variety of career opportunities in operations and emissions, and with regulatory agencies or authorities. However, the environmental consultancy industry employs a significant number of graduates that work closely with those sectors, and Karman adds, “they offer services to industries, municipalities, or regulatory industries by project basis.”

While a degree will open up to careers in the field, Karman suggests that two extra years of studying a master’s degree likely leads to better jobs. “They’ll probably be more rewarding jobs in the sense that they’d have more responsibility in the job.”

Photo: cienpies/THINKSTOCK