100 million people working in climate by 2030? That’s certainly a big goal, yet not an impossible one. The climate tech jobs landscape has been expanding rapidly and is expected to continue to grow. After 2021 marked a new record for investment in the field, in the first half of 2022, climate tech startups alone raised $13.7B from VCs. Headlines are already pointing to climate tech related jobs luring engineers from big tech companies. So, we wouldn’t be surprised if you were interested in the field.
But with new climate tech jobs and specializations popping up fast, from ESG Manager, Senior Grid Expert, Environmental Sustainability Program Analyst, and Carbon Accounting Specialist, to Chief Sustainability Officer, keeping up with the numerous options available and the requirements for each one can be daunting. So, we asked the experts – leaders of climate tech companies and job boards:
“What do you need to know to secure a good position in climate tech, regardless of your career background?”
Continue reading for insights on the topic from Xavier Mercenac, co-founder and Executive Director of Nasekomo, a food tech startup converting organic waste into high-value animal protein through the use of insects; Petar Georgiev, Head of Strategic Alliances & Sustainability at AMPECO, a software company offering a white label solution for EV charging and energy management; and Benjamin Bolton, Head of Europe at Terra.do, a global climate career platform with a mission to get 100 million people working in climate by 2030.
Advice for professionals looking for climate tech jobs
Before anything else, Xavier Mercenac, co-founder of Nasekomo, mentions the importance of educating yourself on the key concepts, technologies, and sectors underpinning “climate tech”, which is an umbrella term for any technology that addresses climate change.
“Climate tech is a very wide concept, and tends to become a catch-all buzz word to show you care about the environment. So, my first advice is to study, analyze, and understand the different bricks of climate tech, in order to have a full view of the field. There are tens of very good newsletters you can subscribe to, as well as many reports published by international consultancy companies, such as PwC’s State of Climate Tech. This will allow you to target the exact sub-sector you feel closer to and get ready for an interview.”
Benjamin Bolton, Head of Europe at Terra.do, further breaks down his advice into 5 key action points for people looking for climate tech jobs:
- Connect with and learn from other climate professionals: Reach out to people doing work you are interested in and inspired by to ask them how they made their transition into climate, what advice they have, and who else you should connect with.
- Join climate communities: like My Climate Journey, Work on Climate, and Terra.do, to dive deeper into the landscape, get inspired by solutions, and learn about companies doing impactful work.
- “Apply anyway”: One of the big insights from Climate People’s recent ‘Barriers to Working on Climate’ survey was that people often self-censor and don’t apply for roles of interest because they fear they lack the required experience. And yet employers say they can’t find enough qualified candidates. Always apply and follow up by networking.
- Get clear on your goal and narrative: What type of problem do you want to solve, using what skills? How has your previous experience set you up to do just that? If you can convey this clearly in conversation, and in your LinkedIn profile and CV, then you’ll be able to more clearly communicate your value to the role you want to pursue.
- Demonstrate your passion: Most climate tech companies take mission alignment very seriously when interviewing candidates. If you can show that you’re passionate and that your skills are transferable, then you have a great shot at getting your foot in the door.
Petar Georgiev, Head of Strategic Alliances & Sustainability at AMPECO, reinforces the last point: “Our main advice is for professionals to look for a company whose mission statement, vision, and impact are well aligned with their personal views.” He adds that continuous learning and adaptability are key traits expected of people applying for climate tech jobs:
“A general recommendation for each worker is to regard lifelong learning as the new normal.
The climate tech sector is a hotbed for innovation, and adaptability is essential.
Individuals should take a more flexible approach to their career paths, focusing on universal skills. An open-minded approach would allow everyone to apply these in a new scenario when looking for an opportunity in climate tech.”
By focusing on adaptability, one also invites the opportunity of being challenged on their choice. Like in any other field, be prepared to show how your choice suits your values and long term personal and career goals.
“Be ready to be challenged about your interest in ESG and climate tech. Why do you want to join this field? What have you changed in your daily habits to reduce your negative climate impact? What are you planning to do in the next 2 years?,” Xavier Mercenac adds.
In the end, climate tech is a broad sector, which opens opportunities to everyone, regardless of their background. “All kinds of skills are needed in climate tech, from accountants to marketers to scientists to AI specialists, so there is room for every one who is really motivated to join the climate revolution,” Xavier Mercenac concludes.