Environmental Science is a diverse field that offers those who study it multiple paths to challenging and rewarding careers in the future.
Whether it's an environmental scientist or specialist who works in a lab or a natural resource manager who looks after the distribution of the Earth's precious materials, a career in environmental science is for the environmentally-minded individual who wants to make a difference on our planet.
Being such a broad and generalized field, environmental science provides a plethora of interesting professional opportunities. Since education and concentrations possess such a strong influence over the type of job that you will be eligible for post-graduation, it's important to do research and select a career to work toward. It could be very rewarding to find a career that combines your interests and passion for the environment and provides you with a secure job, personal fulfillment and enrichment.
Top Environmental Career Tips
Before viewing the list of the top careers in environmental science, consider reading the top tips for environmental science majors.
1. Study popular careers
Our summary of the most popular careers within environmental science will get you kick started on figuring out which might be best for you. If your passion is not a top 5 career, do not worry! In general environmental science is a growing field and becoming more important for the planet. But, it would be responsible of you to research your passion to make sure the outlook is good for the career.
2. Review degree options
There are a number of options for an Environmental Science degree. Likewise, there are now more options for online degrees in Environmental Science. Some of the programs have specific concentrations associated with them but a degree in Environmental Science will more than likely at least allow you to get a foot in the door.
Different Types of Sustainable Careers
The list of career options within Environmental Science goes far beyond our “Top 5 Most Popular Environmental Science Careers” list. Below are a few other careers – there are many options!
- Agricultural Engineer
- Marine Biologist
- Molecular Biologist
- Wildlife Biologist
The Most Popular Environmental Science Careers
You can view our list of in-depth career profiles for Environmental Science below. We will constantly be adding to this list, but a career profile does take a lot of academic research and profiling to understand the full depth of a position and career. Be sure to check back soon for more environmental science career profiles.
An environmental scientist’s job duties may vary, but it isn’t uncommon for them to conduct experiments with dyes in bodies of water to test how chemicals might disperse during a toxic spill and come up with ways to minimize damage, create maps and/or graphs that illustrates the effects of air pollution over time that helps other officials make better informed decisions about environmental laws, evaluate the affect humans and wildlife have on one another, monitor water qualities at beaches, lakes and ponds to ensure it is containment free and keep people and wildlife safe from exposure to harmful toxins and more.
The objective of an environmental scientist’s career is to investigate, identify, prevent and solve environmental problems in order to ensure that the planet and all its living creatures are kept safe.
Entry-level positions as an environmental scientist usually require a bachelor’s degree in environmental science or a related scientific field such as biology, physics, chemistry,
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary from an environmental scientist was $63,570.
The employment rate of environmental scientist is thriving, with projected growth rate to rise $15 from 2012 to 2022. The increase in threats to our environment as more resources are consumed and more and more spaces are commercialized necessitate the recruitment of individuals who possess a strong knowledge of the sciences and the eco system who can use that to come up with innovative and sustainable solutions.
How to Become an Environmental Scientist
The entry-level requirements for this job are a Bachelor of Environmental Science or another natural science, preferably with ether a double major or minor in environmental science.
A career in environmental engineering combines the basic principles of engineering with the fields of biology and chemistry to come up with solutions to today’s most pressing environmental issues. Their duties involve coming up with ways to reduce waste, improve recycling, enhance the preventative measures taken to ensure public health and manage air pollution.
Preparing, reviewing and updating environmental investigative reports, designing projects that lead to the preservation of the environment and also help people such as water reclamation facilities, analyzing scientific data and providing technical support on environmental mediation projects and advising corporate and government agencies about cleanup protocol for contaminated areas. There are more tasks performed by environmental engineers, and the specifications of each individual’s job will be predominately influenced by his or her experience, education and geographic region.
Environmental engineers need at least a bachelor’s in either environmental engineering or another branch of the same field such as general, chemical or civil engineering. Practical experience is also highly favored among employers, so getting a license and taking part of cooperative engineering programs that offer college credit for job experience are strongly recommended.
The median annual income for an environmental engineer was $80,890 in May 2012. Federal government employees earned higher, earning $98,890 each year. Local and state government employees, excluding hospital sand education, earned less at $75,350 and $69,570 respectively.
Jobs in environmental science are rapidly growing, so the projected rate of 15 percent from 2011 to 2022 still applies to environmental engineers. State and local government positions are particularly expected to increase in availability as the need for more efficient water usage increases.
How to Become an Environmental Engineer
Receiving an undergraduate degree in environmental engineering or another branch of engineering is the first step toward becoming an environmental engineer. Accruing work experience and developing a strong knowledge in current environmental issues is also important.
There are many lawyers that truly enjoy the justice system and law, but are passionate about the environment. Many lawyers put their two favorite passions together and engage in a career as an environmental lawyer. Environmental lawyers usually represent different companies, businesses, organizations, communities, or even farmers. Environmental laywers are responsible for using the law to find justice for the environment, people, or organisms or wildlife.
There are 11 common regulatory areas for Environmental Law, which include:
- Environmental Impact Assessment
- Air Quality
- Water Quality
- Waste Management
- Contaminant cleanup
- Chemical safety
- Water resources
- Mineral resources
- Forest resources
- Wildlife and plants
- Fish and game
Environmental biology is already a more focused aspect of environmental science, but there are still that a student can choose from such as ecological conversation, land and water specialization and landscape analysis and management.
How to Become an Environmental Biologist
Read the full career profile for exactly what wan Environmental Biologist does, as well as salary information and demand and trending for the career by clicking the button below.
An environmental geologist ensures that the water supplies and soil remain pure and uncontaminated without hindering their accessibility to the organisms that need them to survive. How can you become an environmental geologist? What does an environmental geologist do at work? How much does an environmental geologist earn each year? Read our career profile by clicking the button below to find the answers to the most common questions pondered by students who are contemplating a future in environmental geology.
Other Environmental Careers
Some of the popular choices among graduates with just a bachelor’s include environmental consultant, a flexible job that allows the worker to choose their own hours, recruit clients and provide vital environmental advice on issues.
Students can also choose to study environmental policy, management and planning which will lead to a career with a less generalized scope such as an environmental lawyer, who may conduct research and work outside the courtroom to build their case. Oceanographers, ecologists, geologists and microbiologists focus on a very specific field of science and usually combine indoor and outdoor work with an interaction with other scientists.
List of Other Careers in the Environmental Science Industry
- Agricultural Engineer
- Marine Biologist
- Molecular Biologist
- Wildlife Biologist
List of Top Environmental Science Careers
|Environmental Career||Program Area||Employment Change, 2014-24 PERCENT||Median annual wage as of 2015||Typical Degree|
|Landscape architects||Environmental Design/Architecture||5.5%||$63,810||Bachelor's degree|
|Environmental engineers||Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering||12.4%||$84,560||Bachelor's degree|
|Health and safety engineers, except mining safety engineers and inspectors||Environmental/Environmental Health Engineering||6.2%||$84,600||Bachelor's degree|
|Mining and geological engineers, including mining safety engineers||Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering||6.4%||$94,040||Bachelor's degree|
|Petroleum engineers||Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering||9.8%||$129,990||Bachelor's degree|
|Environmental engineering technicians||Environmental Engineering Technology/Environmental Technology||10%||$48,650||Associate's degree|
|Environmental scientists and specialists, including health||Environmental Studies||10.7%||$67,460||Bachelor's degree|
|Environmental science teachers, postsecondary||Environmental Studies||8.6%||$78,770||Doctoral or professional degree|