Part 1: Introduction
Welcome! This guide is intended to help illuminate the job search in climate tech for data analysts, data scientists, and data engineers. While there are many resources that describe the qualifications and work responsibilities for each of these roles for tech more broadly, we think that it's useful to paint a picture of how each of these roles manifest in climate tech, and share specific learnings for this domain.
This guide is intended to be a crowd-sourced living doc, from the collective experience of people who work in data in climate or are going through this job transition, which community members should definitely contribute to. In particular, if you're currently working in climate, we'd love to hear about your work in "Spotlights/profiles" under one of the job profiles in Part 2. Part 3 ("Steps To Getting a Data Job in Climate") is very much still under construction and can benefit from your experiences and advice as job seekers and job holders!
We've loosely based this doc off General Assembly's The Absolute Beginner's Guide to Getting a Job in Tech. Similar to the GA handbook, we'd love to expand this into a guide for all kinds of jobs in climate, but we're starting out with data since this is the field the initial authors are most familiar with. If you'd like to take up the torch and build out this doc for additional types of jobs, you are more than welcome to.
Part 2: Landscape of Data Jobs in Climate
This section helps current folks working in data understand the landscape of jobs in climate. What specific problems/domain spaces hire for each role? What's the demand for each role? Can we learn from quick spotlights/profiles from folks currently working in the field?
What it is
Data analysts take an organization's data and generate insights, trends, forecasts, and other key analyses to help make data-driven decisions. This work tends to focus on internal reporting and visualization of insights so stakeholders can make informed calls (whether in Excel, BI tools like Tableau, or SQL/Python), in contrast to data work that is "in production" (i.e. is directly incorporated into the product and will be seen by users).
Career prospects & domains
Some trends we've observed are:
- Many climate data analyst positions are in private sector, consumer-facing companies. Common domains include transportation, household energy services, consumer finance, and farming/food. Examples of companies we see hiring for these roles include:
- Transportation: Lime (electric scooters and bikes), Cruise (autonomous vehicles)
- Household energy services: Bulb (helping households transition to renewable energy), OhmConnect (consumer energy services), OVO Energy (household energy supplier)
- Consumer Finance: Aspiration ("green" credit card)
- Farming/Food: Impossible Foods (plant-based meat substitutes), Infarm (indoor farming)
- There's also B2B demand for data analysts to work on decarbonization strategies — helping businesses collect and calculate their carbon footprints. ****This kind of work often involves life-cycle assessment of products and greenhouse gas accounting standards (i.e. GHG Protocol).
- In the public sector, data analysts analyze air quality and energy market trends and design climate mitigation and adaptation strategies for agencies like the California Air Resources Board and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission**.** These roles can have a huge impact in informing how public sector funds get channeled to fight climate and how regulations get designed to best incorporate climate goals. ****
- Analyst positions may be less in demand than other data roles. An admittedly non-rigorous data-point: Googling the search strings "data analyst climate," "data scientist climate," and "data engineer climate" returned 55 and 56 active job postings respectively for the latter two, but only 22 job postings for the former (searched Nov 2020 for jobs near San Francisco, CA). Anecdotally, Climatebase and other community member-sourced job postings on the WoC Slack Group also appear to feature analytics roles less often than the other two.
Some things you might do as a Data Analyst in Climate:
- Analyze customer demographics of electric vehicle sales to design outreach efforts that better reach underserved communities
- Build internal dashboards at a large tech company to inform senior leaders on progress towards GHG reduction goals across the company's data centers
- Design and monitor data-driven KPIs to improve the customer experience and drive customer growth at a sustainable consumer finance startup