Associates Degree in Environmental Science: Program Overview

An associate's degree program in environmental science teaches students about environmental protection regulations, environmental issues and the protection of natural elements that are essential for life.

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Essential Information

An associate degree's program in environmental science is designed to prepare students for entry-level positions or as a foundation for further study. Students look at ways to prevent, correct or reduce damage to the environment and study scientific methods and principles related to environmental science. They might be required to conduct laboratory experiments and present results properly formatted.

Applicants to the program will need a high school diploma or equivalent, as well as satisfactory scores on college admissions examinations. Associate's degree programs are typically two years in length.

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Associate's Degree in Environmental Science

The curriculum for an associate's degree program in environmental science is comprised of general education and professional course components. Students study humanities, English and social sciences as well as the following topics:

  • Resource management
  • Environmental history
  • Environmental ethics
  • Environmental compliance
  • Environmental sampling
  • Hazardous materials regulations

Popular Career Options

Environmental science students may work within a variety of industries in both private and governmental sectors. Most jobs in the field require at least a bachelor's degree. Specific job roles may include (additional education required for most positions):

  • Environmental consultant
  • Environmental science teacher
  • Natural resource conservation specialist
  • Environmental advocate
  • Resource management specialist
  • Environmental lab technician

Job Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected job growth of 11%, faster than the average for all occupations, for environmental scientists and specialists from 2014-2024. During this decade, environmental science and protection technicians could expect 9% (faster than average) job growth, conservation scientists could expect as-fast-as-average job growth of 7%, and forest and conservation workers could expect 4% job growth.

The BLS reported median annual salaries for these occupations as of May 2015:

Environmental scientists and specialists $67,460
Environmental science and protection technicians $43,030
Conservation scientists $61,110
Forest and conservation workers $26,190

Continuing Education

Environmental science students can further their education by pursuing a baccalaureate or graduate degree in the field. Baccalaureate degrees are quite common in the field, and most associate's degree programs prepare graduates to transfer their credits to a bachelor's program.

An associate's degree in environmental science gives students the foundation in the life sciences required for further education or entry-level jobs in the private and governmental sectors.

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