Careers in Environmental Economics: Job Options and Information

Oct 10, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to have a career in environmental economics. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and prospects to find out if this is the career for you.

You could choose to apply a bachelor's degree in economics to a career that focuses on environmental issues. Career options in this field exist in both the public and private sectors, and include environmental economist, policy analyst, and commodities broker; for some positions, a master's degree or Ph.D. is required. Predicted job growth varies considerably depending on the specific field.

Essential Information

There are a variety of options for individuals interested in helping the environment. For example, studying environmental economics can help prepare for a career in environmental policy. While some may find work as environmental economists, others may consider working as policy analysts or using their training in the environment and economics to work as investment bankers in environmentally related fields.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in related field
Other Requirements Master's and doctoral degree for advanced positions
Projected Job Growth 8% from 2018-2028 for economists*
Average Salary (2018) $116,020 annually for economists*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Options

Environmental Economist

Environmental economists, like other economists, focus their work on the economic impact of policies and business decisions. Economic systems are subject to careful analysis, and as economic decisions affect environmental interactions, those trained in environmental economics can use their knowledge to understand how the economy impacts the environment, as well as the how environmental policies will impact the economy.

Education Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement for entry-level economist positions; however, students will need to pursue a master's or doctoral degree for career advancement. There are some programs that specifically focus on environmental economics, such as the Bachelor of Science in Environmental Economics and Policy, while other economic programs offer environmental specializations.

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

In 2018, the BLS reported that the average salary for all economists was $116,020. The BLS projected that economists would see 8% growth in employment opportunities from 2018 to 2028. The private sector is expected to continue to hire economists to assist in operations planning.

Environmental Economic Policy Analyst

Environmental policy analysts may work as political scientists to understand the effects that policy changes will have on related factors. The can work with government agencies or private corporations in order to assist with making business decisions relevant to the environment.

Education Requirements

The BLS notes that typically, political scientists have at least a master's or doctoral degree. Some students combine undergraduate studies in environmental economics with a related degree, such as the Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science ad Policy.

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

In 2018, the BLS reported that the average salary for political scientists, including those who worked in policy analysis, was $115,300. The BLS projected that employment for all political scientists will increase by 5% from 2018-2028.

Commodities Broker

Working within the public sector, commodities brokers analyze data to forecast economic trends and help create environmental sustainability. With proper analysis, they may then guide investors to secure both safety and profits funds and portfolios in the environment sector.

Education Requirements

According to the BLS, a bachelor's degree is required for entry-level commodities careers. Obtaining a master's degree, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Natural Resources and Environment and Business, can help workers advance in this field. Registering with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is also a requirement to work as a broker or investment banker.

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

The average salary for commodities agents, according to the BLS, was $98,770 in 2018. Agents in commodities, financial services and securities are predicted to see 4% employment growth between 2018 and 2028.

In summary, environmental economics is an analytical field that applies knowledge of markets and policy to environmental issues. If you have an advanced degree in economics you are likely qualified to pursue jobs in environmental economics, but could also consider becoming an environmental policy analyst or commodities broker.

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