How to become a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO)?


Do you enjoy planning and managing? Do you want to contribute to environmental conservation by working in a corporate setting? If you answered yes, you can become a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO)!

Chief sustainability officers assist businesses in managing energy resources, reducing waste, and improving health and safety practices. Because sustainability is a growing field, now is an exciting time for interested candidates to advance their careers as chief sustainability officers.

Do you aspire to be a Chief Sustainability Officer or are you just exploring the field? In either case, you’ve come to the right place! This blog discusses the skills required, colleges and courses, salary, and what else it takes to become a Chief Sustainability Officer. Follow the step-by-step guide in the blog to become a Chief Sustainability Officer.

Who is a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO)?

A Chief Sustainability Officer, also known as a CSO, is a manager in charge of a company’s environmental impact, resources, and plans. Chief sustainability officers assist their companies in assessing their current environmental impact and determining how to improve their sustainable practices in the future.

How to become a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO)?

Step 1: Stream to select

Students interested in becoming Chief Sustainability Officers should select the Science stream and take Biology as one of their subjects. Environmental science topics are covered in Biology, which can prepare students for advanced topics in their bachelor’s degree.

Step 2: Educational qualifications

Almost all employers require CSOs to have at least a  bachelor’s degree.

How to become a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) after 10th?

After the 10th, focusing on and learning environmental topics will prepare students and provide a solid foundation in these subjects before they begin learning advanced topics while pursuing their bachelor’s degree.

The students can also join environmental groups or NGOs. Environmental Volunteering allows individuals to “Travel with Purpose” and establish emotional connections with nature while mitigating the effects of climate change and other problems.

How to become a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) after 12th?

In India

After 12th, students can have a bachelor’s in Environmental Engineering

Environmental studies or science and then later a master’s degree in business or an environmental science field, such as biology. Candidates should clear the target decided by universities in JEE or state-level entrance examinations to get into these universities.

UG courses to become a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) in India:
B.Tech Environmental Engineering4 years
BE Environmental Engineering 4 years
B.Tech Energy Environment and Climate 4 years
Top UG colleges to become a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) in India:
Name of InstitutionLocation
IIT Bombay – Indian Institute of TechnologyMaharashtra
DTU Delhi – Delhi Technological UniversityDelhi
LDCE Ahmedabad – LD College of EngineeringGujarat
IIT Kanpur – Indian Institute of TechnologyUttar Pradesh
The Institutions of Engineers India, KolkataWest Bengal
YMCA Faridabad – JC Bose University of Science and Technology, YMCAHaryana
IIT Dhanbad – Indian Institute of Technology Indian School of MinesJharkhand
KIT’s College of Engineering, KolhapurMaharashtra
Singhania University, JhunjhunuRajasthan
Vaugh Institute of Agricultural Engineering and Technology, AllahabadUttar Pradesh

A degree in a business or sustainability field, such as business administration or management, environmental engineering, environmental studies or science, finance, international business, public administration, or social sciences, can help you become a chief sustainability officer.

UG courses to become a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) abroad:
BS environmental science4 years
BSc Ecology and Environmental Biology3-4 years
Top UG colleges to become a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) abroad:
Name of InstitutionLocation
Stanford UniversityUnited States
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)United States
ETH ZurichSwitzerland
University of California, Berkeley (UCB)United States
Harvard UniversityUnited States
Wageningen University & ResearchNetherlands
University of CambridgeUnited Kingdom
National University of Singapore (NUS)Singapore 
The University of QueenslandAustralia
University of British ColumbiaCanada

Step 3: Certification courses and project courses

The course listed below can help you become a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO).

  • Blended Professional Certificate: Chief Sustainability Officer

Step 4: How to prepare for the job?

  • Gain work experience: Apply for jobs to start honing your business skills and learning about the industry. Some businesses offer entry-level positions in their sustainability departments. Look for job boards that only post jobs that are environmentally friendly. Seek more responsibility until you reach the level of management. Most CSOs must have at least two to five years of management experience before becoming chief sustainability officers.
  • Get certified: Consider enrolling in a certification programme to demonstrate to employers your dedication to your career and to give yourself an advantage over other CSO candidates.
  • Pursue a master’s degree: CSO positions frequently necessitate an advanced degree, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA).
  • Continue your education: Pursue as many continuing education opportunities as possible to advance your career. Attend sustainability workshops and conferences, and keep up to date on industry trends and policies by reading about them. Join a professional organisation like the ISSP, which provides learning opportunities, career-development resources, and webinars and events for its members. If you received professional certification, you will almost certainly be required to complete a certain number of continuing education hours in order to maintain your credentials.

    While you’re at it, Do have a look at Clever Harvey’s JuniorMBA Future CEO program to gain industry exposure and certification to add to your skills.

9 most essential skills for becoming a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO)

  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Problem-solving
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Analytical
  • Creativity
  • Policy knowledge
  • Decision-making
  • Up-to-date on environmental issues
  • Policy engagement and interpretation

Salary of a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO):

In India

An entry-level Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) with less than one year of experience can expect to earn an annual compensation (tips, bonus, and overtime pay) of ₹9,64,716.



The following are some entry-level Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) salaries from around the world.

CountryAnnual Salary
United States$93,253
Canada$111,209 (CAD)
United Kingdom£56,461
Singapore$93,713 (SGD)

Top 10 recruiters

  • InterContinental Hotels Group
  • Perfetti Van Melle
  • Siemens AG
  • Credit Suisse
  • JLL
  • Unilever
  • Ørsted
  • Neste
  • Schneider Electric

Chief sustainability officers (CSOs) are senior executives in charge of a company’s sustainability strategy. Large corporations hire CSOs to collaborate with other C-level executives and ensure that the company’s resources are used effectively. If you are a natural leader looking for a rewarding career, you should consider becoming a chief sustainability officer. Best wishes on your path to becoming a Chief Sustainability Officer!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the role of a chief sustainability officer?

Ans: The Chief Sustainability Officer will collaborate with managers, employees, customers, and shareholders to address the organization’s approach to environmental responsibility in order to reduce the company’s environmental impact.

What qualifications do I need to work in sustainability?

Ans: A bachelor’s degree is required. Although technical or academic knowledge is advantageous, most jobs necessitate key skills such as project planning and management, financial management, relationship building, and so on. Volunteering and working in non-sustainability sectors can help you develop these skills. Most jobs can help you develop such transferable skills.

How many chief sustainability officers are there?

Ans: There are 95 CSOs as of March 2021.

How do I start a career in sustainability?

Ans: The first step is to obtain a degree in business or sustainability-related fields, such as business administration or management, environmental engineering, environmental studies or science, finance, international business, public administration, or social sciences, which will enable you to become a chief sustainability officer.

How many hours do chief sustainability officers work?

Ans: Because the chief sustainability officer is frequently the point of contact for large, dynamic, and time-sensitive projects, they typically work 40 hours or more per week.

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