15 Jobs You Can Do With An Environmental Science Degree

As the consciousness about the impact we have on the world keeps growing, we are seeing more and more people looking to make a difference in the world to make it a more habitable home for a life of all forms.

The environmental health field is growing at a faster rate recently due to global challenges and concerns like climate change and pollution. If you decide to pursue a career in environmental science degree now you will have several options when it comes to jobs including an interesting career as an environmental scientist, microbiologist, and environmental engineer.

If Greta Thunberg has once inspired you, you feel the need to learn more about nature and the relationship between man and nature and want to pursue a career that’s increasingly in demand, then a degree in environmental science could be a great choice for you.

What is environmental science?

Environmental science is an interdisciplinary subject that combines aspects of biology, physics, geography, ecology, and chemistry to study the environment. It also draws knowledge from scientific areas such as marine biology and oceanography to study the world’s underwater environments.

Environmental science also studies the relationship between man, nature, and the impact humans make on the environment.

Students in this field study issues such as climate change, air and water pollution, conservation, and sustainability through a combination of laboratory and field-based work. Students here are exposed to complex data from the environment from which they develop their pioneering solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems.

The knowledge and skills

Studying environmental science will enable you to develop a good comprehension of climate change, biodiversity, conservation, and sustainability, in marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

Studying environmental science at school will help you establish solid foundations across a range of scientific, legal, and economic subject areas to explore the environmental challenges and enable you to propose solutions. You will get to grips with economics and resources, sustainable development, experimental law, and policy.

At school, you will also get to understand how to construct concepts and practice and put together a credible environmental impact assessment. While at school, you will develop a broad set of transferable skills, which includes: Research, analytical and problem-solving skills using the facilities such as the laboratories, the marine station, and multiple research vessels.

Competence in developing arguments from scientific, ethical, and philosophical perspectives and forming these into environmental impact assessments.

Planning and project management skills from group project work at school. Verbal communication skills developed through conveying complex scientific information and delivering presentations with complex technical data.

Written communication skills developed through regular submission of concise, coherent reports. Flexibility to work in all kinds of environments. Numerical and information technology skills developed through the application of statistics and measurement techniques. A broad understanding of local, national, and global environmental issues.

As a student, you also get the opportunity to join clubs and societies and enhance your transferable skills such as leadership, communication, teamwork, and problem-solving. As a graduate of the environmental sciences, you are equipped with the skills to pursue several career paths depending on what interests you and what you feel you’re good at.

Career progression and income

The National Bureau of Labor Statistics projected the job growth in environmental science to be around 15% in 2022. This estimate, which is faster than the average growth is conservative considering the environmental challenges facing the planet across all industries.

This means that pursuing a degree in environmental science offers one of the best returns on your investment at the Bachelors’s level. Several career paths offer great pay with high job satisfaction for those with just a Bachelors’s degree.

Earning an environmental science degree

The recent improvements to the current education system offer you a variety of choices in your pursuit of a career in the environmental sciences. Unlike the traditional education style, you can choose to complete your courses online. The only catch is that you may have to go to a physical campus for a course or two depending on your chosen academic path.

Courses studied in the pursuit of an environmental science degree include climatology, ecology, wildlife and fish conservation, water science, water policy and management, human impact on the climate, environmental law, urban forestry, sustainable ecosystems, etc.

From this list of subjects, you can easily tell that there is a wide spectrum of career paths available for environmental science majors. The specialization you choose in the environmental sciences determines whether or not you need to continue graduate studies.

Career options for environmental science majors

A common misconception of a degree in the sciences is that you only get to wear a lab coat and be researching some obscure scientific breakthrough. This is a false idea especially when it comes to environmental sciences because environmental scientists handle the food we eat, treat the water we drink, solve problems like energy scarcity and climate crisis.

Environmental sciences are such a broad field that a person who analyzes chemical levels in a town’s water supply and a person who studies the effect of deforestation on the local ecosystem are environmental scientists.

While the list of jobs or career opportunities in the environmental sciences is quite long, below are some of the 15 common opportunities for you as a graduate in the environmental sciences in no particular order:

Environmental Engineer:

Environmental engineers work to improve public health by overseeing waste and pollution control policies. They continually test air quality, water resources, and industrial equipment to ensure standards are met and maintained.

A typical environmental engineer should be highly skilled in critical thinking, analysis, and communication. They are the minimum requirement of an environmental engineer is a bachelor’s degree in an engineering field as well as some work experience.

Environmental engineers that continue their education to earn their master’s degree often work in higher-level roles and earn a higher salary. The average salary of an environmental engineer is $79,617 per year.

The primary roles include designing systems that promote environmental protection and ensuring that various facilities maintain permits and standard operating procedures as they relate to the environment.

Conservation scientist:

Conservation scientists are responsible for managing forests, parks, and other resources. They spend much of their time out in the field monitoring forestry and conservation practices to ensure that companies along with their workers are compliant with regulations.

Conservation scientists establish forest management plans and assist in preventing and minimizing forest fires. Conservation scientists have the option to work for a variety of organizations and a bachelor’s degree is required for most jobs often related to biology and forestry-related fields. The average salary of a conservation scientist is $61,340.

Urban planner: 

Urban planners play an important role in both small and large communities as they create plans for land use, including infrastructures such as roads, power lines, and parks. They play very important roles in population and community growth. They are individuals who should possess excellent communication skills as they tend to work with people of different backgrounds.

The urban planner job is one of the top green careers in demand and is growing faster than average. While the minimum requirement to get a junior role in the field is a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree is often required for urban planning roles. The average salary of an urban planner is around $73,050.

Environmental lawyers:

These lawyers represent people, businesses, and the earth as a whole. They provide counsel to clients for communicating how a change may impact people or wildlife. They often assess damages from events impacting the environment and gather evidence.

After completing a bachelor’s degree, aspiring environmental lawyers must continue to law school. Post law school, the bar exam is a requirement to become licensed in their state.

Many careers in environmental law require at least a few years of work experience and law students are advised to take on internships while at school. This is one of the top-paying careers in environmental science as they take home an average of $120,910 in a year.

Zoologist:

Zoologists study animals in their habitat whether they are domesticated or in the wild. They observe the patterns of wildlife from diet to migration. They often spend a lot of time outside although they spend quality time inside in the office or lab analyzing specimens and data.

A bachelor’s degree is required to start a career in zoology. Some jobs like the ones with high-level investigative and scientific work may require at least a master’s degree. On average the zoologist earns $63,420 and the salary is dependent on the level of experience, type of degree, and job location.

Hydrologist:

With the demand for hydrologists on the rise, the job has grown to be one of the top-paying jobs. Hydrologists are responsible for evaluating the chemical and temperature changes in water bodies and also identifying and testing for pollutants.

They plan key roles in keeping waterways clean and safe which may include water testing, flow operations, overseeing educational and outreach programs, and data analysis. Similar to other environmental science careers, most hydrologists jobs require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and many higher roles will require a master’s degree. On average, hydrologists earn an annual salary of $79,370.

Marine biologist:

The marine biologist works with public and private companies as well as government firms. They may conduct field activities, work with large quantities of data and propose new policies and procedures depending on the specific role and skill level. The minimum requirement to start a career as a marine biologist is a bachelor’s degree in areas such as biology, zoology, oceanography, and hydrology.

Professionals in this field usually continue their education to a master’s degree. This job is perfect for individuals who are passionate to understand the state of the planet and make it a healthier place. While there may be some dangers associated with this job, the overall risks are low and you will gain excellent experience while on duty. On average marine biologists take home a sum of $63,420 annually.

Environmental technician:

The environmental technician works to identify, assess and prevent various forms of contamination within the environment. They often work alongside environmental engineers either in the lab or in the field. Some of their daily duties include overseeing waste operations, collecting samples, and helping to maintain equipment. On average the environmental technician earns a salary of $34,125 in a year.

Environmental science teacher:

Environmental science teachers are responsible for teaching high school students of different grades about environmental science. The common areas of study that an environmental science teacher may cover in their class include ecology, geology, biology, and chemistry. On average environmental science teachers earn a salary of $39,811 in a year.

Geographer:

Professional geographers analyze various aspects of the earth as the earth’s phenomena. They utilize the global position systems (GPS) and geographic information systems (GIS) to collect and display geographic data to assist other workers. On average, the geographers earn a salary of $72,727 per year and the minimum to get started as a professional geographer is a bachelor’s degree.

Ecologist:

Ecologists study and assess ecosystems to determine how humans impact the different ecosystems and their environments. An ecologist may choose to work for an environmental or governmental agency or at an aquarium, museum, or zoo. The average salary of a professional ecologist is $74,247 and a bachelor’s degree is required to start a career in this field

Environmental manager:

The environmental manager oversees an organization’s compliance with environmental regulations to reduce the company’s overall carbon footprint and waste output. They usually analyze the purity of water bodies, pollution levels, air quality, and waste as it relates to an organization.

On average environmental managers, makeup to $74,283 in a year, and the minimum requirement for environmental jobs is a bachelor’s degree.

Environmental health officer:

Environmental health officers do most of their work in public and private sectors where they work to maintain proper environmental standards. They sometimes enforce and monitor environmental and public health standards such as safety at work, pollution control, and preventing injuries and accidents. On average environmental health, officers earn a sum of $82,879 in a year

Meteorologist:

The meteorologist analyzes the atmosphere of the earth to predict weather conditions and patterns. They may employ different techniques and technologies such as satellites and radars to obtain data from the environment, study the climate and weather based on the obtained data and then make brilliant weather and climate predictions. The meteorologist on average earns a sum of $85,647 in a year.

Water quality scientist:

The water quality scientist tests and analyzes water taken from different environments like surface water, groundwater, and drinking water. They develop solutions that help to maintain and improve water quality and report any water quality issues such as water pollution. They may choose to work with the government, non-profit environmental agencies, and commercial businesses.

A typical water quality scientist works 9 am-5 pm, however, some employers have 24-hour emergency incident coverage, so extra hours may be a regular occurrence.

This job involves much outdoor activity, mostly traveling – to and from sites to do inspections and collect samples. It is a perfect job for individuals who care about the health and well-being of local communities. The average annual salary of a water quality scientist is $87,797.

Conclusion

While opportunities for individuals with a degree in environmental science keep growing as we have to combat and curtail global issues like pollution, climate change, and global warming. It is becoming easier to make a comfortable living while promoting a healthy, clean environment.

It is also important to note that while having an environmental science degree is important to get a job in this industry, it’s also important that you possess some skills you have gained from your education and experience which should be highlighted on your resume when you start hunting for jobs.

These skills can practically help you to showcase your knowledge and background in environmental science. Some of these skills include: Organizational skills, Research skills, Data-gathering skills, Analytic skills, Attention to detail, composing lab reports, Deductive reasoning, Critical thinking, Communication skills, Conducting quantitative research, Environmental sampling skills, Problem-solving skills, Science and math skills, Identifying environmental issues, Proposing environmental solutions

FAQs on Jobs You Can Do With An Environmental Science Degree

Where can you work as an environmental science graduate?

As an environmental science, you can work at government agencies, charitable trusts, environmental monitoring organizations, non-profit organizations, and also private firms depending on your specialization

What is the minimum requirement to land environmental science jobs?

In most cases, the minimum requirement to get a job in the environmental science field is a bachelor’s degree.

What is the average salary of an environmental science professional?

The average salary most times depend on factors like location, experience, and your role in the jobs

Is an environmental science degree worth it?

Yeah, with the demand for professionals to combat global environmental crises like global warming, pollution, and reasonable salaries. It is worth studying at school

What does an environmental scientist do?

Environmental scientists generally work to maintain the optimal environment for the survival of living things on earth.

References

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