Environmental Science Jobs: All Your Options

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Environmental science degree jobs involve finding scientific solutions to environmental problems.

Environmental scientists plan mitigation and protection strategies for sensitive areas, contaminated sites, and risks to human and environmental health.

Job titles include climate change analyst, environmental engineer, hydrologist, and industrial ecologist. This guide describes environmental science careers, salaries, and work environments to help you decide which direction you want to take.

Environmental scientists often enter the field because they are concerned about environmental and ecological degradation and are drawn to seeking science-based solutions.

They usually work in offices and laboratories. They can also work remotely or outside in the field. Jobs may also involve travel to meet clients and attend conferences.

Jobs leading to an environmental science degree require technical skills in computer modeling, data analysis and management, and geographic information systems (GIS).

Professionals need a broad knowledge of biology, chemistry, geology and physics. They also master specializations such as soil science, waste management and water resources.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the top employers of environmental scientists are management, scientific, and technical consulting firms, followed by state governments.

The following strengths, interests, and career goals indicate that a career in environmental science might be for you.

Strengths:

  • Communication and cooperation
  • Problem solving
  • Scientific and data analysis

Interests:

  • Science and IT
  • Laboratory work and outdoor fieldwork
  • Mitigation of environmental degradation

Career goals:

  • Helping governments and businesses understand the science behind environmental regulations
  • Finding solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change
  • Work or lead collaborative teams

Jobs in environmental sciences: our choices

Consultants to businesses and private sector companies

Environmental consultants assess the impacts of business and company processes or products on the environment, including those involving hazardous materials. They advise companies on the risks of their operations, not only for the environment but also for employees and the public.

Job duties include:

  • Analyze samples
  • Carrying out tests
  • Creation of projection models
  • Document data and processes
  • Report writing
  • Present the results and suggest improvements

Environmental consultants need skills in written and oral communication, collecting and testing samples, understanding laws and regulations, and technical analysis.


SEE: 15 tips to improve your public speaking skills


Roles of Environmental Science Education

Environmental science education is provided in elementary and secondary schools, community organizations and businesses.

Educators help local governments reduce greenhouse gas emissions, nonprofits inform citizen science groups, businesses apply best practices in environmental health, and school districts implement education programs. education and sustainable development.

Education often uses interdisciplinary and experiential learning covering sustainability, environmental justice, bioregionalism, and scientific principles.

Naturalists educate the public about environmental risks to habitats. Sustainability analysts work with businesses, landlords, schools and governments to reduce their environmental impacts.

Potential positions include:

  • Environmental Awareness Specialist
  • Naturalist
  • Outdoor/Environmental Educator
  • Scientific programmer and trainer
  • Sustainability Analyst/Specialist

Environmental engineering missions

Environmental engineers use technology to design solutions for erosion, agricultural discharges, hazardous waste disposal, and wastewater treatment.

They also test for air and water pollution. Environmental engineers model projections, inspect facilities and construction projects, and advise on cleaning up contaminated sites. They can serve as expert witnesses in environmental litigation and develop regulations.

Important skills include imaginative thinking, writing and communication, project management, and data modeling.

Nearly a third of environmental engineers work for engineering firms. Others find employment in management, scientific and technical consulting firms and government agencies.

Daily activities include:

  • Conducting inspections and writing investigation reports
  • Project design and technical support
  • Update and maintain operating permits and procedures

Roles of agriculture, agriculture, conservation and wildlife

Environmental scientists work on agriculture, agriculture, conservation, and wildlife.

They focus on sustainable practices on farms, ranches, and forest lands. These practices protect wildlife, soil health, plant diversity and water quality.

These professionals work for government agencies, consulting firms, and conservation organizations. They partner with farmers and ranchers on projects that control erosion, use integrated pest management, manage animal waste, and implement grazing plans that prevent overgrazing and protect wildlife habitats.

Other conservation projects include habitat preservation, wetland restoration, and prescribed burns to reduce wildfire risk.

Potential roles include:

  • Conservation Planner
  • Field Technician
  • Fish and Wildlife Biologist
  • Soil Conservation Technician
  • Sustainable development analyst

Roles of government and policy-making

Government and policy-making roles include lawyers, lobbyists, planners and policy analysts.

Some may work for government agencies, advising policymakers, developing compliance strategies, staffing legal departments, and developing regulations. Others find employment with lobbying firms or non-profit organizations influencing laws and policies.

In these roles, you must be skilled in drafting and interpreting policy and legislation, understanding and analyzing environmental regulations, and writing position papers. You must also be an effective communicator, both written and spoken.

These professionals work on local, state, and federal laws and policies regarding land use, transportation, air and water quality, environmental justice, environmental health, and similar issues.

Jobs include:

  • Environmental Lawyer
  • Environmental lobbyist
  • Environmental Policy Analyst
  • Territorial developer
  • Stormwater Regulatory Advisor

Research and academic roles

Universities hire environmental scientists as instructors and researchers. Government agencies, non-profit organizations, and businesses employ research scientists.

Professors, adjunct professors, and lecturers teach undergraduate and graduate courses and conduct independent and institutional research, publish their findings, and present at conferences. They may also run university departments, schools, and colleges.

Researchers outside of academia may model and analyze data or work in policy research. Issues can include environmental health, environmental justice, regulatory compliance, and climate change.

Most professionals at this level need a Ph.D. and areas of specialization. Non-academic jobs may only require a master’s degree.

  • Associate/assistant professor
  • Data Analyst/Researcher
  • Lecturer
  • Teacher
  • environmental specialist
  • Research Associate

How Much Money Can You Make In Environmental Science Careers?

The BLS reports a median annual salary of $76,530 for environmental scientists and specialists and $96,820 for environmental engineers in May 2021.

The highest paid environmental scientists work for government agencies or have a doctorate or professional degree.

You can increase your environmental science salary by earning advanced degrees or certifications, including Registered Environmental Professional, Geographic Information Systems, and the Ecological Society of America.


SEE: Best Online Colleges and Universities


This article has been reviewed by Sierra Gawlowski, PE

A portrait of Sierra Gawlowski, a smiling brunette woman.

Sierra Gawlowski, PE, earned her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and is a licensed professional engineer in Washington State. She has worked for a private consulting engineering company as well as for public bodies.

Sierra enjoys mentoring engineering students and junior staff. She also leads a project team for Engineers Without Borders and currently sits on the board of Kilowatts for Humanity.

Gawlowski is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.

Last revised May 20, 2022.

Unless otherwise stated, data on employment growth and wages are taken from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics to July 11, 2022.

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