Can I Still Make Money While Working in CSR?

Can I Still Make Money While Working in CSR?

It’s natural to want a job where you feel you are making a difference and many graduates with degrees that emphasize sustainability are turning to positions in corporate social responsibility (CSR). Can you still pursue this kind of career and earn a healthy salary? Do graduates have to sacrifice one for the other?

Where the Money Is

Generally, larger corporations pay more, and consumer concern and new environmental regulations will soon make it necessary for almost any significantly sized corporation to employ a sustainability manager and staff.

Corporate Social Responsibility managers at larger companies should expect a salary at or near the same level of other C-level executives in the same company. This type of position enables an employee to pursue their passion for making a difference with a certain amount of financial security.1

Consulting or working for a green energy or clean-tech company may also enable you to earn a reasonable salary although the job market for these positions is competitive.


At the other end of the salary spectrum are non-profit organizations and social enterprises. However, that does not mean you cannot still make a living. Even if the salary offered is below market, you might negotiate for other perks like remote work flexibility, more vacation time, a part-time schedule rather than full time, and professional development opportunities.

The intangible benefits of working for a non-profit include knowing that you are making a difference and the psychological benefits that go along with that job satisfaction is something that cannot be purchased, and as long as your compensation is adequate to meet your financial needs, it may be worth it even if your pay is below market value for your position compared to a salary of one working at a large corporation.

The Balance

Choosing a career in sustainability involves a balance between compensation and doing social good. It’s doesn’t always have to be a choice between one or the other, and sometimes just means shifting your meaning of compensation.2

Working for a corporation not only offers more compensation, but a larger stage from which to influence sustainability. However, good health insurance, tuition benefits, and even paid time off to volunteer for similar organizations are often benefits of working for social enterprises and nonprofits.

Graduates of the Online MBA in Sustainable Business from Marylhurst University will be well prepared for careers in corporate social responsibility no matter what kind of organization they choose to work for.