1. Environmental Landscape The overview of the environment and landscape in every state in the United States.
2. Degree Options Information on the degree options for environmental science in every state.
3. Career Opportunities What career opportunities exist within environmental science in that state.
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Environmental Science Degrees & Careers by State
It is best to study bugs where it is warm. Of course, the official term of those who study bugs is to refer to them as entomologists. Though it is sometimes used as a term for those who study spiders too, arachnologist is the proper term for that. Alabama has thousands of species of insects, including fire ants, and about 1,000 species of spiders, including the black widow, the brown widow, and the brown recluse.
Environmental science degrees are in no way limited to entomology, and Alabama is in no way limited in providing outdoor environments conducive to hands-on learning about the diversity of fields that encompass environmental sciences. The University of Alabama has a bachelor’s program in environmental science, and Auburn’s College of Agriculture offers undergraduate and graduate programs in everything from entomology to biosystems engineering degrees.
Career opportunities in Alabama for those with environmental science or environmental studies degrees include jobs in the private sector, the public sector and the military. Careers range from being lab technicians at the BASF plant in Huntsville to working as research biochemists for the U.S. Navy. Alabama’s subtropical climate presents opportunities for outdoor laboratory research in a warm climate with all the modern living conveniences close by.
There are probably two places on earth that would be incredible experiences for those studying environmental science—Antarctica and Alaska. Scientists who need to study the area over the winter months arrive while the weather is still nice, and they remain there through the dark and cold months, waiting for the sun to return again. The sun also never gets far above the horizon for a time north of the Arctic Circle, but Alaska differs from Antarctica in that it has many towns and available flights out year round. Both present opportunities to study geology, wildlife, extreme climates and many other things like no other places on earth.
Alaska also has opportunities to study for a degree in environmental science at the University of Alaska (UAS) Southeast in Juneau. It offers a bachelor’s program in environmental science.
Not far outside the doors of the university are wetlands, mountain areas, ice fields and marine ecological systems. Students of glaciology can study in places where glaciers actually are located. The Mendenhall Glacier is located about 12 miles from UAS in Juneau. Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage offers a master’s program in environmental science, and it has many glaciers within driving distance.
Arizona has the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River that runs through it. The Sonoran Desert is in Saguaro National Park. Students of environmental sciences leaning toward botany have opportunities to study xerophytic plants from the large saguaro cactus in the Sonoran Desert to the rare Agave arizonica. Arizona is rich in wildlife from the western diamond-backed rattlesnake to mountain lions. The effects of urban sprawl can be studied in Arizona’s two largest cities, Phoenix and Tucson.
The University of Arizona offers units in The School of Earth and Environmental Sciences that work to provide teaching opportunities, interdisciplinary research and outreach. Undergraduate and graduate degree program studies can be completed at the University of Arizona’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. A Bachelor of Science degree in soil, water and environmental science with an environmental science major is available as well as a master’s or doctorate.
Career opportunities range from positions as specialists in rangeland management to staff positions in companies hiring environmental scientists with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree needed for education. Salaries range from $41,000 to over $80,000 per year in the environmental science field in Arizona.
It can get cold in Arkansas with some winter days that may hover around 31 degrees Fahrenheit, but the summers can be quite hot. Its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico is close enough to influence the climate. The northern part of the state can see snow in winter. The population of Arkansas is just under three million, and the two largest cities are Little Rock and Fort Smith. The Ozarks and the Ouachita Mountains are in the northwest part of the state. The southeast has the Gulf Coastal Plain and the Arkansas Delta making a lowland area.
The University of Central Arkansas (UCA) has an environmental science program. It uses an interdisciplinary approach and three educational tracks that cover biology, chemistry, and planning and administration. The courses are through three different colleges and six departments.
Students have opportunities to intern from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to the United States Forest Service. The median income for those working in environmental sciences in Arkansas is $66,250 per year. Most jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree in environmental science.
California has 39.1 million people with 3.8 million of them living in Los Angeles. The state is so big that the climate ranges from subarctic to subtropical. The eastern sides of mountains establish areas of desert due to the shielding of rain. Death Valley holds a record for the world’s hottest place with a 1913 recorded temperature of 134 degrees Fahrenheit.
San Francisco State University has a degree program in marine biology, and the environmental science and policy degrees program at California State University, Long Beach encourages double majors. Students with environmental science degrees may wish to apply at the California Department of Conservation or the California Environmental Protection Agency.
Students just beginning to learn about this exciting area of study should learn to differentiate between education for those seeking environmental science degrees and those seeking degrees in environmental studies. The latter puts emphasis on things such as philosophy of the discipline whereas the former is more about the science. Students wanting to research climate change are more about the science. Those wishing to affect government policy making may prefer an education in environmental studies. Job growth is expected to increase by 11 percent over the next decade for this field.
The core of environmental science is the interaction between humans and the environment using the sciences of chemistry, biology and physics to measure, define and even predict outcomes. The state of Colorado is growing in its human population with a 2015 total of about 5.5 million people. That is over an eight percent increase from the census taken in 2010. Colorado has a remarkable geography and climate. The Continental Divide practically runs up through its middle. It can also have extreme weather with hail, thunderstorms, snowfall measured in feet and even tornadoes. Snow melt flowing into its rivers is in such quantity that it provides water to many southwestern states.
From the ancient cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park to Pike’s Peak, there are plenty of natural areas to study or just enjoy as forms of recreation in Colorado. A degree in environmental studies can be obtained from the University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado Mountain College’s locations in Breckenridge, Dillon, Edwards, Leadville, Rifle, Spring Valley and Steamboat Springs, and other universities and colleges throughout the state.
Learning in Colorado provides a wealth of experience in a diverse ecosystem that prepares students to work in any of the global ecosystems they may encounter in their careers.
Fieldwork is what students seeking environmental science degrees want to get started with as soon as possible. That is where the excitement is. Research requires exploration, and exploration leads to discovery. Answers to protecting the environment while still helping one’s fellow human beings to live comfortable lives come from the minds and research done by today’s scientists who work in environmental fields. Connecticut even has opportunities for study in its tourist recreation spots. The Indian Council Caves of the Tunxis Trail, the Nipmuck Trail in the Nipmuck State Forest and the Housatonic River Walk, which is part of the Appalachian Trail, are examples.
Connecticut offers degree programs in environmental science and environmental studies. Connecticut College has the distinction of a studies program that dates back to its founding in 1968 by ecologists William A. Niering and Richard H. Goodwin. Trinity College in Hartford offers students a minor or a Bachelor of Science degree in the field.
Employment opportunities range from teaching positions to careers such as a Safety Health and Environmental Lead at Unilever (a multinational consumer goods company) in Trumbull.
Students of the environment are pleased to know that Delaware ranks at number three by The League of American Bicyclists on their list of the most bicycle friendly states. The state, being part of the Atlantic Coastal Plain, has diverse weather that is affected by the ocean and Delaware Bay. Its location gives it a transitional climate from humid subtropical to continental in the area the state covers.
This is a unique opportunity for students seeking degrees in environmental science to study how the ecosystem is affected by weather and human involvement. The Delaware Valley University School of Agriculture and Environmental Science maintains over 1,000 acres of open-air classroom for students learning the various disciplines in environmental science. Delaware State University offers a Bachelor of Science program in environmental science that splits student study time in the classroom and places such as Delaware State’s demonstration farms. The University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Job prospects abound. For example, Solenis, a global industrial water treatment company in Wilmington, employs staff scientists, and the Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin employs a Natural Lands Steward, which requires a degree in environmental science disciplines.
District of Columbia
Washington D.C. is the seat of the United States federal government. Though the region has a mayor and council, Congress can negate any laws they make. The setup is in the interest of providing a place free of outside influence for the federal government to operate. The Capital actually is taking initiatives for the environment. On January 1, 2016, it banned the use of polystyrene (foam) containers. This means no more coffees or to-go sandwiches in foam containers, which produces waste that does not easily biodegrade. This is just one area where environmental science students have an impact.
The University of the District of Columbia offers a Bachelor of Science in environmental science. With the D.C. area covering only a tad over 68 square miles and with a population exceeding 672,000, it is a great place for students to study the core value of the disciplines that comprise environmental science, which is the influence humans have on the environment. The George Washington University offers an environmental studies program through its Department of Geography in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.
An added plus is that Washington D.C. is the place where national policies and laws concerning the environment are founded.
If any state could be the capital of environmental science, it should be Florida. It has the Atlantic Ocean on its eastern flank and the Gulf of Mexico to its west. The Florida Keys jut out from the southern tip of the state with its land being the exposed area of a once vast coral reef. The Florida Everglades and its potential for scientific environmental studies make it a great place to learn, contribute to research, and make a mark in this field of study.
Studying for a bachelor’s degree in environmental science in Florida can be done at schools such as Florida State University and Florida Institute of Technology. Florida Gulf Coast University offers a master’s degree program. The University of Florida offers a doctorate in interdisciplinary ecology. The environment and the schools make Florida unique for those desiring a degree at any level in environmental science.
The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary has annual cruises on large research vessels for scientists to expand the knowledge of natural resources. They also have long-term monitoring programs in place. Being part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), they have the means to get some work done.
Georgia has many protected plant species from the Carolina Trefoil to Tennessee yellow-eyed grass. Its southeast borders the Atlantic Ocean. Much of the state is classified as a humid subtropical climate, but that depends on how close the area is to the northern or southern part of the state, the elevation, and how far away it is from the Atlantic Coast or the Gulf. In just this one state, the USDA planting zones range from 6b to 8b.
With such a diversity of climate, terrain and a population of just over 10.2 million, it is a wonderful place to study environmental science disciplines. Universities offering degree programs in environmental science in Georgia include University of West Georgia, Georgia State University and Georgia College.
Georgia is the largest pecan producer in the world. The northeast produces poultry. Its mining industry produces stone, sand and clay products. Its industrial products include everything from automobiles to textiles. This is a state with many opportunities to research the influence that human economic activities are having on the environment.
For those who have never been there, it may come as a surprise that it snows some winters on the mountains of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on Hawaii Island. Hawaii is tropical, but the trade winds help keep temperatures in the high 70s to high 80s year round. Having temperatures equivalent to most people’s perception of a fine summer day no matter what time of year makes Hawaii popular for tourists and mainland residents hoping to escape other parts of the world that have more drastic seasons.
Students desiring to study or work in environmental science in Hawaii have many opportunities. Places to study include Hawaii Pacific University and the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Hawaii’s ecosystem is endangered as both the human and animal species population increases. Three-fourths of extinctions in the United State occur in Hawaii. Invasive species are another problem. Everything from mammals to insects and even bacteria being introduced from other parts of the world are affecting the ecosystem of Hawaii. This makes it a conservationist’s dream project to provide research that can have a positive effect.
Idaho is surrounded by the borders of six different states as well as Canada to its north. The state has its climate affected by the Pacific Ocean, which is 350 miles away from its western side. This actually makes winter temperatures a little warmer than what would be expected for a state this far north and one that has a mean elevation of 5,000 feet. Though many may not expect it, the biggest industries in Idaho come from the technology sector. Semiconductors are made in Boise, and Hewlett-Packard has a plant there that mostly makes printers.
Students desiring to pursue degrees in environmental science can do so at the University of Idaho, which has master’s and doctorate programs, and Idaho State University, which has a master’s program in environmental science and management.
Industry is a major concern for those studying the effects of human endeavors such as how manufacturing and mining have affected local and even global ecosystems. Industries are taking steps toward sustainability, and people with environmental science degrees are at the forefront providing the data on how to get it done.
Illinois is a state that is part of the Interior Plains. Its highest elevation is only 1,235 feet. Chicago is in the northeast where the state border meets Lake Michigan, and the middle of the state contains prairie land. The southern part of the state has the Cahokia Mound, which is the ancient site of a civilization that could have had a population upwards of 40,000 people in the 12th and 13th centuries. This was long before any European settlements in the land that became the United States. Just north of Wilmington is the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, and the Shawnee National Forest is in southern Illinois.
Those wanting degrees in environmental science in Illinois can obtain them at the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Lewis University and the University of Illinois Springfield among others.
Those with degrees in the diverse disciplines of environmental science have opportunities in Illinois in education, government and the private sector. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Illinois is also one of the higher mean wage states for environmental scientists with a range of $73,120 to $107,750.
Compared to its nearby states to the east, Indiana is quite flat. It is within the geographical area for heavier tornado activity as well. In fact, Indiana was one of the three states hit with one or more tornadoes that made meteorological history due to the related deaths of hundreds of people. The Great Tri-State Tornado hit in 1925. Uncertainty exists whether it was a single tornado that lasted 3 1/2 hours or multiple ones. Today’s scientists, using modern technology, would know. This age of science presents incredible opportunities for students who want to learn the impacts man is having on the environment and what can be expected because of the sustained influence.
Studying for an environmental science degree in Indiana includes universities such as Indiana University and Bloomington School of Public and Environmental Affairs, which offers bachelor’s and master’s programs. The University of Southern Indiana has an environmental science degree program within its Geology and Physics department.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists Indiana at the lower end of the wage spectrum for environmental scientists with a mean wage range of $45,540 to $58,950 per year.
The Mississippi and Missouri Rivers make up Iowa’s eastern border, and the Big Sioux makes the western border. Being in the Heartland of America, it used to have a largely agricultural economy. That has changed to include everything from manufacturing to biotechnology. For the cost of doing business, Iowa received the number one spot out of CNBC’s list back in 2010. This would make it attractive to corporations desiring to set up manufacturing and other industries in the state.
Students of environmental science would see this as a prime opportunity to measure how economic shifts in human populations affect the environment. Degree programs for environmental studies in Iowa include undergraduate programs at the University of Iowa and at Iowa State University.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists Iowa just below the top mean wage tier for environmental scientists at $64,780 to $72,950 per year. As more industry becomes active in the state, both the private and government sectors will need to employ more environmental scientists to influence public policies and measure policy compliance.
Kansas is in the middle of the United States. In fact, the middle of the nation, geographically, is close to the town of Lebanon in Smith County, Kansas. Though Kansas has its highest elevation at 4,039 feet at Mount Sunflower, it has plenty of flatlands too. Kansas is popular in movies with tornado plots. This is not surprising since supercell thunderstorms in Kansas are responsible for EF3 tornadoes and beyond. Kansas is also experiencing “rural flight” where a portion of the population is migrating from rural to urban areas. This has left thousands of so-called ghost towns in the state.
Kansas State University Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences offers secondary majors due to environmental science exceeding the scope of any one discipline. Wichita State University and Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offer master’s programs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has Kansas just below the top tier for employment of environmental scientists in the nation. The mean wage for environmental scientists in Kansas is between $59,340 and $64,580 annually.
Kentucky has the longest cave system in the world with 400 miles of tunnels that have been mapped. The cave system covers 52,830 acres. The Bluegrass State is home to 4.4 million residents.
There are eight public universities in Kentucky with many more private universities, community and technical colleges, and other educational institutions of higher learning. The University of Kentucky has the College of Arts and Sciences Earth and Environmental Sciences programs that focus on geological sciences. It offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees.
Kentucky is at the lower tier of mean annual wages for environmental sciences at $45,540 to $58,950 per year. They are also at the lower tier of employment of environmental scientists per 1000 people. Kentucky is increasing in manufacturing and medical facilities. However, it still has a firm footing in agriculture with its corn production and beef cattle industries. Its coal industry has been diminishing. These changes make it an interesting place to learn various environmental sciences. Burgeoning scientists desiring to study inland waterways will be pleased to know that Kentucky is only second to Alaska for the miles of waterways that can be navigated.
Sediments deposited by the Mississippi resulted in large deltas and swamps that form part of the state of Louisiana. The swamps of Louisiana are legendary to the point they, and the people who live in them, have been utilized for everything from movies to reality television shows. The swamps contain a diverse array of species from snakes and alligators to birds and fish. The lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina are still seen and felt by residents of the affected areas. Salt domes, such as Avery Island, contain oil and natural gas deposits.
Degree programs in Louisiana for those interested in environmental science include Louisiana State University, which offers a master’s program in environmental sciences as well as a doctorate program. It also has a bachelor’s program in coastal environmental science. The University of New Orleans offers a bachelor’s degree in geosciences and environmental and coastal science as well as a master’s in earth and environmental sciences. They also offer a doctorate in engineering and applied science.
Louisiana presents many opportunities to students of environmental sciences to work. Wage earning opportunities for environmental scientists in Louisiana range from a mean of $64,780 to $72,950 annually.
Maine has 1.3 million residents living in an area that covers 35,385 square miles. From Andover College to York Community College, Maine has many institutions of higher learning. The University of Southern Maine offers Bachelor of Arts as well as Bachelor of Science degrees in environmental science. The field is diverse, needing both planners and policy makers as well as researchers. Since environmental science degree holders study the impact humans have on the environment, there is a two-fold approach needed to accomplish change. First, the facts need to be recorded. Second, policies need to be established to do something about those facts.
The tagline under the logo for Unity College in Unity, Maine is “America’s Environmental College.” Maine is at the lowest tier for mean wages for environmental scientists. The University of Maine at Machias offers a marine biology education that provides a hands-on approach early in the educational process, and the Maine Maritime Academy requires seniors to complete a capstone project.
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics lists the mean wage range for Maine’s environmental scientists at $45,540 to $58,950 annually. Though wages may not be the highest, study opportunities seem to abound for students of the various disciplines of environmental science.
Maryland is small with an area that covers just 12,407 square miles. However, it has a population of over 6 million residents. The area it covers is 21 percent water, making population density even more of a concern. Before resources could be shipped and piped in, human populations would have to move from areas that could not sustain them.
The Department of Environmental Science and Technology at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Maryland has a slogan declaring it to be, “The place for ecological discovery and natural solutions!” They offer undergraduate and graduate programs in environmental science and technology. The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science also offers undergraduate and graduate programs. The National Science Foundation provides support to the Maryland Sea Grant Program, which currently offers $4,200 to help defray living and traveling expenses.
Places such as Maryland present opportunities to research the impact of growing human populations on the ecosystem. Encroachment into wildlife habitats, especially those of animals that can be dangerous to humans, is a concern of residents in many places.
Massachusetts is not the smallest state. There are six more that are smaller. However, it does comprise an area that is only 10,555 square miles in size with a little over a quarter of the state being water. With its population hovering at 6.8 million, it is ranked at number three in population density. The natural habitat of Massachusetts used to largely be of a temperate deciduous forest type.
Massachusetts offers education in environmental science at the University of Massachusetts Boston. It offers Bachelor of Arts as well as Bachelor of Science degrees along with master’s and doctoral programs. Wheaton College at Norton offers environmental science majors that focus on biology, chemistry and geoscience. The University of Massachusetts UMassOnline offers master’s and certificate programs in environmental science disciplines. Endicott College in Beverly offers undergraduate programs in environmental science.
The agricultural industry has resulted in only small areas of old growth forest still being intact in the state. Interestingly, as farming fades, the areas have overgrown again, causing the state to now have forest areas that cover over 62 percent of the land.
Michigan has an interesting shape. It is comprised of two peninsulas. The Upper Peninsula is separated from the Lower Peninsula by the Strait of Makinac, which permits waterway access to Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. The land masses connect via the Makinac Bridge. Michigan touches Lake Saint Clair and four out of five of the Great Lakes. Michigan covers an area approaching 97,000 square miles, but just about 41 percent of that area is water. Lake-effect weather on the Upper Peninsula and the Lower Peninsula, being a geological basin, make it an interesting region to study.
Educational opportunities for those interested in environmental science degrees in Michigan include the University of Michigan College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, which offers an earth and environmental sciences major, and Northwestern Michigan College’s environmental science program. The Central Michigan University College of Science and Technology offers environmental studies majors that concentrate on policy or the sciences.
Michigan has opportunities for research that are quite interesting as well. For example, a graduate student hopes to turn Michigan’s brewery wastewater into fuel. With two land masses separated by a bridge, Michigan presents a unique place to study and do research as an environmental scientist.
Minnesota is known for a higher standard of living and education as well as wealthy residents. Cargill, a global food commodities and food processing company with over $120 billion in annual revenues, has Minnesota as its home. Many other big corporations also call Minnesota home.
Minnesota State University Mankato offers a bachelor’s degree in environmental science. The University of Minnesota offers a major in environmental sciences, policy and management. The University of St. Thomas also offers an environmental science program.
Environmental scientists are needed by companies for sustainability and compliance to laws when it comes to products and services that affect the environment. The state is just below the top tier for a mean wage range for environmental scientists at $64,780 to $72,950. Minnesota produces more sugar beets, green peas and sweet corn than any other state. Minnesota also has 450 farmers that produce 46 million turkeys, making it the nation’s leader. Environmental scientists are needed to monitor and develop policy for Minnesota companies that affect the environment.
Mississippi is predominately rural with industrial farms. The state is all lowlands with a maximum elevation of only 807 feet at Woodall Mountain down to sea level at the Gulf of Mexico on its southeastern border. The state also has the lowest per capita income in the nation. Over the years as land has been cleared and levees built in an attempt to control the flooding of crops, the problems of flooding continue. The current of the Mississippi River has grown stronger due to an interruption in natural absorption. An effort to restore some areas to their natural state will need the help of environmental scientists and policymakers. Mississippi’s ecological problems are an example of the history of negative human influence on the environment. Hopefully, modern scientists can help correct many years of mistakes.
Mississippi has several universities and colleges with environmental science programs. Mississippi State University offers an environmental sciences in agricultural systems program.
The state has two automobile manufacturing plants. Large cotton and poultry farms are mostly mechanized. Though agriculture and manufacturing have impacts on the environment, Mississippi is also at the lowest tier of mean annual wages for environmental scientists at $45,540 to $58,950.
Missouri has plains in the north and flat areas of agriculture in the southeast as well as the Ozarks in the south. The Ohio and the Missouri Rivers meet the Mississippi River in the state of Missouri. The state is also home to more than 6,000 caves. The Bull Shoals Lake Field Station provides living quarters and opportunities for students and educators to work on research projects.
Environmental scientists are needed to monitor and set policies for ongoing human development projects of small and large scale that affect the environment. Degrees in environmental science in Missouri are attainable at the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, the University of Central Missouri School of Environmental, Physical and Applied Sciences, and Maryville University in St.Louis.
The “Missouri Green Jobs Report” indicates that as of 2008, the state had more than 131,000 green jobs, which accounted for 4.8 percent of total employment. The “Missouri Economic Research Brief” indicates the state is number two in the nation for the number of farms at 107,825. The USDA reports that in 2014, Missouri had 182 certified organic farms working 48,630 acres. Research provided by environmental scientists is helping to make things better for people and the environment.
Montana is only behind Wyoming and Alaska when it comes to population density. Though most of Yellowstone National Park is in Wyoming, Montana has about three percent of it and Idaho has about one percent. Montana is no stranger to ecological issues even though the state is not densely populated. Asbestos from the W.R. Grace plant in Libby is still a problem, and the Berkeley Pit in Butte, filled with about 900 feet of contaminated water from copper mining, is another issue.
Montana State University offers a doctoral program in ecology and environmental sciences. The University of Montana Western offers Bachelor of Science programs through its environmental sciences department.
Students reaching the 90th percentile for environmental scientist wages in Montana can expect to earn about $72,960 annually. The mean is $58,520, and the low end at the 10th percentile is $39,780. Students studying for environmental science degrees today may discover ways to clean up the asbestos and acidic water that are two of Montana’s worst ecological problems or cause enduring legislation to be enacted that prevents future ecological disasters in the state.
Nebraska is home to just under 1.9 million people. Nebraska was hit by a locust swarm in 1875 known as Albert’s Swarm. A physician, Albert Child, figured the swarm to cover 198,000 square miles. Nebraska is only 77,354 square miles in size. Hastings, Nebraska was home to the Naval Ammunition Depot. It was the largest ammunition manufacturing plant in the United States. Nebraska’s Central Community College is located there now. Hastings also has a contaminated groundwater problem that is suspected to date back to early 20th century wastewater disposal.
Students desiring a degree in environmental science can study at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Nebraska Omaha.
Environmental scientists can expect a mean wage of $63,250 per year. Experts are needed to help with Nebraska’s water problems. Invasive plants, such as phragmites (perennial grass) and saltcedar, are being sprayed with chemicals to keep them in check. They absorb large amounts of water, lowering the amounts needed for other purposes. Nitrogen fertilizers have caused problems in Hastings. Plus, Nebraska has a legal commitment to supply water to Kansas, and the water problems makes it difficult to comply.
Though Nevada’s name means snow-capped, it is the driest state in America. At nearly 110,000 square miles, only six other states are bigger in area. It is also the state where the federal government owns the majority of the property. The U.S. government owns 86 percent of the land, and 69 percent is handled by the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service. The oldest known organism in the world is the bristlecone pine, which is found in Nevada. It is also home to two types of fish that cannot be found anywhere else—cui-ui and Devils Hole pupfish. It is important that environmental scientists make sure these and other plants and animals are not made extinct.
The University of Nevada, Nevada State College, and Sierra Nevada College are just three places where students can study environmental science in the state.
The average wage for an environmental scientist in Nevada is $69,540. Some areas of Nevada only receive four inches of rain per year. One area of study is ecohydrology, which is the integration of water, residents in a community, and the environment. Other areas of study include the management and restoration of forest ecosystems, wildlife conservation and preparing to become an environmental lawyer.
The state of New Hampshire has an official website filled with fact sheets covering everything from groundwater to waste management. For example, there is a highly informative fact sheet about radon in the air and water for homeowners. Information is power. It makes it possible for people to make decisions based on facts rather than hearsay. Those fact sheets have been prepared using scientific results. Many states probably have information like that available for its residents, but New Hampshire makes it easy to find. Things like this come about when there are scientists doing the research and being involved in making policies.
Environmental science and environmental studies can have a concentration on the research side or law and policy making. In New Hampshire a degree in environmental science can be attained at Southern New Hampshire University, and an associate in science with a major in environmental sciences at NHTI, Concord’s Community College. The University of New Hampshire College of Life Sciences and Agriculture offers a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and a master’s degree in natural resources.
The mean wage for an environmental scientist in New Hampshire is $70,980.
Only three states are smaller size-wise than New Jersey. However, the state is the most densely populated of all the states in the nation. It is also the second wealthiest state in America. Water makes up nearly 16 percent of the state. In 2015, the Department of Environmental Protection began restoring Wreck Pond, which is a lake that was severely changed by Hurricane Sandy. One side was ripped open, leaving it exposed for the first time to the ocean. Environmental scientists are part of the team that is helping to restore the lake since there are expected major ecological changes.
Rutgers University in New Brunswick, Rider University in Lawrenceville, Drew University in Madison, and Essex County College in Newark are just a sampling of the various colleges and universities in New Jersey that offer degrees in environmental science. Regardless of the actual field in environmental studies that is chosen, students will play major roles in the future of the world, which has continued issues with its ever-expanding human population, climate change and better sustainable living efforts.
Environmental scientists in New Jersey make an average of $78,430 per year. It is one of the states that has an abundance of jobs in this field.
New Mexico has the same environmental concerns that many other states have. They have issues with mining and how it affects the environment and fracking, which has been blamed for everything from water pollution to man-made earthquakes. The science is proving it to be true, and environmental scientists are the ones gathering the facts to support and implement policy changes.
Studying for a degree in environmental science in New Mexico includes the bachelor’s program at the University of New Mexico and the master’s degree in agricultural and extension education at New Mexico State University Distance Learning, which provides off-site education. Not every student with a desire to pursue an environmental science degree can attend traditional classes at a regular university. Opportunities to use technology such as online classes opens up the possibility of becoming an environmental scientist to many more students.
New Mexico has about 2.1 million people with an employment ratio of environmental scientists at 1.21 per 1000 residents. That puts New Mexico as one of the top employment states for environmental scientists.
Those who have never been to New York may think it is largely urbanized. Yes, New York City has a population of 8.4 million people, but the entire state only has 19.75 million residents. Other areas of the state are not as heavily populated. There is plenty of land and water for ecological study and work from Lake Ontario Bay at Olcott to the 4,000 acres of ecologically fragile and diverse land at Bald Hill and Groton, which is owned by Cornell University.
The College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) in New York has undergraduate and graduate programs. Students who are studying for a degree in environmental science or environmental studies realize that they must specialize their degree choice. ESF has doctorate programs in environmental and forest biology, chemistry, environmental resources engineering and others such as forest resources management. The school is four hours from the Big Apple, so a weekend trip is easy for students.
Career prospects for environmental scientists in New York vary from research jobs with the United States Navy to the position of scientific advisor for the Bureau of Environmental Sciences and Engineering in Manhattan. From moraines left over from the Ice Age to the Hudson River Watershed, there are plenty of opportunities in New York for studies and careers in environmental science.
A North Carolinian is familiar with the term “Tar Heel.” It has changed from a derogatory term to one of pride for North Carolina University. One source for the term is believed to be related to the tar, pitch and other products from pine trees that were once major exports. In recent years North Carolina tobacco farms that used to be a major contributor to the state’s economy have been replaced by other agricultural industries such as hog farming. Now residents are complaining about the odors associated with large hog farms. With anti-tobacco campaigns and legislation as well as limited additional uses for the plant, the state needed to adjust what it does to earn and produce.
Schools where students can earn degrees in environmental science in North Carolina include the University of North Carolina Wilmington, which offers bachelor’s and master’s programs, and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, which offers programs through its School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.
Environmental scientists in North Carolina earn a mean wage of $60,080 per year. Also, the state employs 1.01 environmental scientists per 1000 residents, making it one of the top tier states for such work.
North Dakota has been in the news for resident concerns about oil drilling and hydraulic fracturing, which is better known as fracking. The North Dakota Oil Boom has residents complaining of problems with air quality, spills and the dumping of wastewater from fracking, and issues with getting authorities to force energy companies to clean up their messes. The drilling is said to have begun in North Dakota back in 2006.
Schools that have programs for students interested in studying environmental science in North Dakota include North Dakota State University, which has master’s and doctoral programs, and the University of North Dakota, which has master’s and doctoral programs in environmental science. North Dakota’s geography includes the bottom of the glacial lake known as Lake Agassiz, which is said to have been larger than all five of the Great Lakes combined if it was still filled with water.
Environmental scientists in North Dakota can expect a mean wage of $60,490 annually. Top earners are at $91,520 per year. Environmental scientists are the ones who get tasked with gathering the data to report to others in their field of expertise who influence public policies and legislation.
Ohio has just over 11.6 million residents in an area that covers 44,825 square miles. Ohio, like many other states, is experiencing an increase in drilling for oil and natural gas. There are residential concerns that current laws are not adequate to address the new technologies being used such as fracking. There is even a concern of radioactive radium being brought up from deep underground and disposed of in inappropriate ways. Probably very few people even considered the possibility of radioactive waste from hydraulic fracturing used in the extraction process of drilling operations.
Schools that teach environmental science in Ohio include the University of Mount Union in Alliance. Ohio University has an environmental studies program. Typically, studies versus science programs vary in their focus. Studies programs are likely to focus on law and philosophy of the environment while science programs help develop scientists in various environmental fields.
Environmental scientists can work in any area that involves the impact that human beings are having on the environment. Economic development must be a concern that is balanced with long-term hazards of how human beings go about developing a robust economy. Scientists measure and determine current and projected future impacts industry and products can have on the environment.
Oklahoma is nearly 70,000 square miles in area. There are ten million acres of forest there, including the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Osage County. At 45,000 acres, it is the largest area of tallgrass prairie in existence today. In order for it to survive, one-third of the acreage is burned every year. This eliminates seedlings and introduced species that are not found naturally there, which ensures its survival every year. The greater prairie chicken is an endangered species, but it is surviving thanks to tallgrass prairie preserves and the environmentalists who know how to properly manage this rare land.
klahoma universities and colleges that offer degrees in environmental science include Oklahoma State University, Tulsa Community College, Bacone College and Northeastern State University. The average wage in Oklahoma for an environmental science worker is $64,580. Students can tailor their education to what they want to do once they graduate.
Whether they study meteorology, zoology, horticulture, marine biology or a multitude of other environmental science studies, they will enter one of the fastest growing fields once they graduate. It is expected that the career growth rate will be 11 percent, which is a rapid increase when compared to other careers.
Oregon is home to Crater Lake. It is a caldera lake of a volcano. The lake is 1,949 feet deep, making it one of the deepest lakes in the world. There are 19 volcanoes in Oregon from Mount Hood to North Sister. This includes several cinder cones. Mount Hood is part of the Cascade Arc that includes Mount St. Helens in Washington. In 2015 an undersea volcano erupted about 300 miles off the coast of Oregon. Ecological concerns of residents include the 250 percent increase in rail cars filled with crude oil being transported, the Jordan Grove Liquid Natural Gas terminal, and the sale of the Elliot State Forest.
Oregon presents an opportunity for environmental science students to study things such as volcanoes and the impact that energy production is having on the environment. Schools that teach environmental science in Oregon include Oregon State University, Portland State University and the University of Oregon.
Environmental scientists in Oregon can expect a mean wage of $71,870 per year. Employment for environmental scientists in Oregon is at a ratio of 0.66 per 1000 residents. The employment of environmental scientists is expected to grow by 11 percent from 2014 to 2024 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Pennsylvania has wind turbine power generation, locks and dams on the Monongahela River, wetlands, Lake Erie, and mining and natural gas drilling. Being part of the Marcellus Shale region for natural gas, those with environmental science degrees could find themselves doing anything from studying the impact of coal mining to reporting for policy decision makers on wiser ways of drilling and running pipelines for natural gas. Those interested in using their degrees to study and develop alternative energies may work with the over 20 existing wind farms or the ones under development in Pennsylvania.
Universities that have environmental science degree programs include Allegheny College in Meadville with both environmental science and environmental studies degree programs and Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, which has a degree program in environmental studies.
Whether new students are interested in purely the science of studying the environment or work that includes education on the history, philosophy and other areas of this field, they will find Pennsylvania rich with options for education. The state has a vast and diverse ecosystem and industry structure that provides many opportunities for field study, internships and careers.
Rhode Island’s full official name is the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Rhode Island has a total area of 1,214 square miles with almost 14 percent of it being water. It is home to just over 1 million residents.
Institutions of higher education in Rhode Island that teach environmental science include a bachelor’s and master’s program at the University of Rhode Island and Roger Williams University. Today’s students of environmental science in Rhode Island may discover ways to clean up toxic areas in each of the affected towns and regions as well as discover ways to prevent future ecological issues with toxic wastes that are hazardous to humans and wildlife.
The Toxics Action Center in Providence publishes “Toxics in Rhode Island: A Town-By-Town Profile.” It discusses toxic wastes from chemical manufacturers, power plants, closed and active landfills, leaking underground storage tanks and other sources. The publication asserts that 4 out of 10 Rhode Islanders will develop cancer at some point in their lives, and that it could be linked to chemical exposure. Environmental science is not only about the impact humans are having on the environment but also how those environmental changes may affect humans.
South Carolina is facing rising seas. Charleston is a city at risk. Economies that rely on coastal tourism will face greater challenges as the seas continue to rise. Some residents feel that lawmakers are not concerned enough about the environment. South Carolina is home to just under 4.9 million people. Its eastern border meets the Atlantic Ocean. South Carolina even has earthquakes. The Charleston Earthquake of 1886 was 7.2 in magnitude and killed 60 people. Being a coastal state, it is also affected by hurricanes. Two notable examples were the category 4 hurricanes Hazel, in 1954, and Hugo, in 1989.
Schools that offer programs in environmental science in South Carolina include the University of South Carolina and the College of Charleston, which offers a master’s program in environmental studies.
Students pursuing a degree in environmental science can expect to earn a mean wage in the state of $58,950. At the top of the scale, environmental scientists are earning $92,130 per year in South Carolina. Its northern counterpart has a higher rate of pay for environmental scientists and a higher rate of employment.
South Dakota has less than a million residents. It is ranked 46th for population density of all the states. However, even though there are not that many residents in the state, there have been 3,327 reported contaminant releases into groundwater between 1973 and 1993, according to a Northern State University report. Part of the good news about the number is that incidents are likely being reported more often due to increased regulations. When there are no laws, there are no infractions to report. Regulatory laws end up getting incidents reported because of the penalties faced for not reporting.
Students desiring an environmental science degree in South Dakota may wish to study at South Dakota State University, which also offers a youth 4-H program in earth and environmental sciences through its iGrow extension program.
Environmental scientists are involved in getting legislation passed that protects the environment as well as the people, animals and plants that live in it. It is due to their diligent gathering of facts to support claims that lawmakers are able to lobby for stricter controls.
Clingmans Dome, at 6,643 feet, is located in Tennessee. It is located in the eastern part of the state, and it is the highest point of the Appalachian Trail. The eastern part of the state has western Blue Ridge Mountains, the middle is a plains area, and the west is part of the Gulf Coastal Plain. Tennessee is not immune to environmental issues. The Smoky Mountains are assaulted with air pollution and invasive species. Acid rain is causing problems with aquatic species, and the woody adelgid, an invasive species, is destroying hemlocks. As humans cause one problem after another to the natural environment, scientists are routinely called upon to come up with corrective measures.
Schools offering environmental science programs in Tennessee include the University of Tennessee Chattanooga and Belmont University.
As knowledge increases about the risks human activities pose on the natural environment and how those risks end up affecting humans as well as the environments they live in, it drives the science behind laws and protective measures that are working to prevent future problems as well as correcting past ones. Tennessee has a higher mean wage for environmental scientists than some other states at $72,280 annually.
Texas is bigger than some countries. For example, at 268,581 square miles, it is bigger than France or Afghanistan. It is second only to California with a gross state product of $1.6 trillion. Where it does lead is as the nation’s number one carbon emitter. Residents are advised to not eat fish caught in the waterways because of high mercury levels. Another problem is that fines for pollution are often less expensive for companies to pay than it is to clean up the messes that caused the fines in the first place. However, as science informs the public of pollution risks, the public can put pressure on legislators to crack down on polluters.
Opportunities for studying environmental science in Texas include The University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M; University in Commerce, and Abilene Christian University.
Environmental scientists are paid at the highest tier in the nation for such employment. They can expect to earn a mean annual wage of $77,480. Top earners in the field can expect yearly wages of $128,080. Employment concentrations for the field of environmental science are in Houston, Sugar Land and Baytown.
Land, air and water all play a part in environmental issues. Utah is no different. It is the 13th largest state in the nation and home to nearly three million people. Environmental scientists monitor all three to ensure that Utah residents have a safe place to call home. The air quality is expected to be compliant with national standards by 2019 as more laws are created under a five-year plan that will help companies make more environmentally safe products as well as cutting back on the pollution they currently produce.
Brigham Young University in Provo, University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Snow College in Ephraim, and Weber State University in Ogden all have programs that will help students learn both in the classroom as well as in the field.
Environmental specialists are also monitoring land where radioactive waste is dumped as well as bodies of water where chemical spills have occurred to make sure those areas are safe for residents as well as wildlife. Without environmental scientists monitoring land, air and water, this world would have a very different landscape. It is one of the fastest growing fields of all occupations. Those wishing to pursue a degree can expect to make an average of $71,300 per year working in Utah.
At only 9,616 square miles, Vermont is one of the smallest states in the nation. Wyoming is the only state that has fewer people living in it. It does not border the ocean like the other New England states do. Around 75 percent of the land is forested. Because of the destruction of some forests as well as climate change, some of the plants and animals in the area have been or are currently endangered. Turkeys and ospreys completely disappeared from the state in the last century, but both have since made a comeback thanks to the help of environmentalists. Bumblebees are in danger as 40 percent of the species in Vermont have disappeared as well.
Students wanting a career to study and protect the remaining animals and plants from further elimination have many secondary education choices. Middlebury College, Saint Michael’s College, Castleton University and Norwich University are just some of the places where students can get a degree in environmental science.
Though Vermont is a small state, there are still 1.25 environmental scientists per 1,000 residents, and the average annual wage is $60,710. This field of study is growing every year, and there are going to be more jobs available in Vermont and the rest of the nation as well as internationally in the coming years.
While some people may not believe climate change is happening, environmental scientists often see proof that it is in their daily work. Virginia has experienced changes in their weather patterns over the last half century. It has been slightly warmer in the winter months, and rainfall amounts have changed as well. Summer rain has decreased, and it has caused droughts throughout Virginia. Heat waves have been deadly in the last decade, and the seasonal forecast is showing signs of being altered. Winters are predicted to become more mild, springs will start earlier, and summers will last longer. Environmental scientists are hard at work in many ways to keep this from happening at such a rapid pace, from research and development to policy making at state and federal levels.
There are dozens of colleges throughout the state that offer different programs in environmental science. Three of the top schools are University of Virginia, University of Richmond and Virginia Tech.
Virginia has over 3,100 environmental scientists working in a variety of fields. The average income per year for this line of work in Virginia is $84,820. Those choosing this profession can work in offices, labs, in the field or even in a political setting.
Over 71,000 square miles make up Washington state. Mountains, rain forests, islands and metropolitan areas seem contradictory for one area , but all four exist together in the Evergreen State. One area of the state gets up to 160 inches of rain per year while another part receives six inches or less. Another interesting fact about Washington for environmentalists is Mount St. Helens. The 1980 eruption is still being studied by scientists today. It is impossible to know just how many animals died and the number of plants that were destroyed, but the toll was significant. The ecological rebound of the area started quickly and is still happening today.
Whether a person wants to study weather patterns that cause such diversity in such a small area or learn more about the resilience of animals and plants in one of the worst volcanic disasters in America, learning opportunities abound in Washington. Northwest University in Kirkland, Gonzaga University in Spokane, Walla Walla University in College Place, and Antioch University in Seattle all have environmental science programs that will equip students to help make the world a better place once they graduate.
There are nearly 4,000 environmental scientists working in the state already, making an average annual salary of $76,360.
West Virginia made the news in 2014 for a massive chemical leak that affected 300,000 people in a multitude of counties. The chemical was an obscure one used to clean coal. Approximately five thousand gallons spilled into a major river. While the government indicated that the water was safe to drink after five days, environmental scientists believe there can be long term ramifications since there is not much data known about the chemical. Fracking and coal mining jobs are plentiful in West Virginia, which is another area of interest for environmental scientists. They monitor that both are done in a safe manner to protect the environment as much as possible while still permitting industry to thrive.
West Virginia University, Marshall University, Alderson Broaddus College and Glenville State College all offer various programs in environmental sciences. Graduates have job opportunities within the state, but they can also take advantage of opportunities not only in other states but in other countries too.
The average annual pay for a person with an environmental science degree in West Virginia is $45,540. This is lower than average for this field from a national perspective, but the cost of living in West Virginia is also lower than other states.
Environmental attorneys in Wisconsin are working hard to close loopholes that can allow streams and lakes to become polluted. They are also ensuring that companies adhere to the law when it comes to runoff, which also means less pollution. Other environmentalists are studying solar power, which is one of the reasons why so many households and companies are switching to solar for their energy needs. Another area where environmentalists are working hard in Wisconsin is learning more about diminished bee colonies. Bees are burdensome to some people, but they pollinate over 70 percent of the crops that make up the majority of the food in the world, making them indispensable.
Carroll University in Waukesha has the most environmental science graduates in the state, but there are plenty of other colleges that offer great programs in this field. Carthage College in Kenosha, University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, and Saint Norbert College in De Pere are just a few that also have high numbers of environmental science graduates.
The world is changing every day, and it is up to dedicated environmental scientists to try and ensure the world is a better place for future generations. The average wage per year for a worker in this field in Wisconsin is $62,390.
There are a lot of environmental issues facing the state of Wyoming. The most severe is one other states are experiencing, but Wyoming is the most affected. The pine beetle has infested the majority of trees in the state’s forests. As of 2014, over three million acres of trees were killed. Though pine beetles are native to the area, they have been able to do more damage in recent years because of milder winters. Environmentalists now must figure out what to do with so many acres of dead trees. Decisions made today and in the near future will determine what the forests will look like in Wyoming for future generations.
There are several colleges and universities in the state where students can earn a degree in environmental sciences. University of Wyoming, Western Wyoming Community College, Casper College and Laramie County Community College all have programs that will guide students to their choice of environmental careers.
Graduates might end up helping determine the future of Wyoming forests while others can choose to help protect the wildlife in the state or come up with new solutions for an air pollution situation that has gone from one of the cleanest to one of the worst in the nation in recent years.