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Environmental non-profit job market overview

Those seeking work in the ENGO (environmental non-governmental organizations) sector can expect to work like a dog for less pay than working for corporate America. Sound wonderful? It can be. The benefit of working for a non profit is twofold: you work for something you believe in, and you get to work alongside others who are also passionate and values driven. My experience in running The Climate Registry, an internationally known ENGO was fun, fulfilling, challenging and exhausting. I wouldn’t trade it. If meaning and impact is more important to you than financial remuneration, then a job in the environmental non-profit sector may be for you.

Overview

The landscape of ENGOs is wide and varied. At the grass-roots level, there are thousands of local non-profits that focus on everything from water quality to bird and fish conservation to environmental education for kids. At the top of the heap are national or international non-profits like The Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club or NRDC, some of which have been around for generations. There are organizations that focus on important local, state and federal policy advocacy, and those that work with businesses and investors to drive leadership on issues ranging from healthy oceans to climate change. There are science-based think tanks like the World Resources Institute and the Stockholm Environment Institute and rabble-rousing activist groups like Greenpeace and 350.org.

According to a 2012 report by the Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University, nonprofit employment represented 10.1 percent of total employment in the United States in 2010, with total employees numbering 10.7 million. The nonprofit workforce is the third largest of all U.S. industries behind retail trade and manufacturing. This includes jobs at not-for-profit hospitals, higher education institutions, day care centers and other sectors. We have not found jobs data that are specific to the environmental non-profit sector, but we do know that of total non-profit foundation funding, environmentally focused foundations make up about 7%.

Sectors

With so many types of environmental non-profits to choose from, how can we navigate the field? JobsWithImpact is here to help. While we cannot list all ENGO’s, this article will provide an overview of ENGO categories, with some examples of specific organizations within each. Let’s start by breaking down these categories, or sub-sectors in the environmental non-profit space.

Environmental non-profit sectors

Within each of the sectors illustrated in the cluster map above are even more sub-sectors focused either on specific issues, regionally, or both. There are literally tens-of-thousands of environmental non-profits. We hope that by applying a sector-based framework, it will make it easier for job seekers to