This is another post in our “After the MBA” series, in which we chronicle a variety of post-MBA career opportunities to give you a sense of which might be the best fit for you. Whether you’re looking to make a career change or want to stay in your present field, this information will help guide you in your b-school decision-making process, as well as direct your studies once in school.
What It Is:
Generally speaking, cleantech companies work to reduce energy consumption, cost, waste and/or pollution while improving operational performance or efficiency. Cleantech falls under the larger umbrella of green careers — i.e., jobs which aim in some way to reduce environmental impact, preserve and/or restore the environment. Top sectors for cleantech jobs in the U.S. include solar, biofuels and biomaterials, smart grid and energy efficiency, wind power, and advanced transportation and vehicles.
Cleantech companies have seen a great deal of growth in recent years, for a variety of reasons. As fossil fuel prices go up and consumers become more aware of climate change and environmental hazards related to fossil fuels, more attention is focused on clean energy. This focus has helped the industry to make notable advances in recent years, improving manufacturing, reliability, and scalability techniques and driving the cost of clean energy down. An influx of capital — from forward-thinking VCs, governments, and corporate and individual investors alike — hasn’t hurt either. According to a Pew Charitable Trust survey, clean energy jobs are growing faster than jobs in other sectors, and increased by 9.1% from 1998 – 2007. According to the Wall Street Journal, top cleantech companies of 2010 include Solyndra Inc., Suniva Inc., eSolar Inc., RecycleBank L.L.C., and Boston-Power Inc.
Salaries for MBAs in the cleantech industry vary depending on a variety of factors. MBA grads from Stanford GSB’s Class of 2010 reported receiving a median base salary of $102,000, with a median signing bonus of $20,000. Graduates from Berkeley’s Haas School of Business Class of 2009 who went into alternative energy fields reported earning a median base salary of $85,000.
Best B-Schools for Cleantech:
In recent years, plenty of business schools have amped up their dedication to environmental sustainability and “green” practices. If you’re interested in b-schools that emphasize environmental responsibility, check out “Beyond Grey Pinstripes,” a biannual ranking of the top 100 b-schools that provide coursework, research, and activities to prepare MBAs for social, ethical, and environmental stewardship. Some schools even offer so-called “Green MBAs,” which require normal MBA coursework as well as coursework about managing for environmental and social sustainability. While these MBA programs are by no means limited to those interested in cleantech, the coursework would certainly be useful in those fields. Top b-schools also aren’t missing out on the cleantech wave: schools like Michigan Ross, MIT Sloan, Harvard, Stanford, and Berkeley Haas, along with many others, offer a variety of opportunities to students interested in the field.