Careers in Environmental Science

Careers in environmental science are widely available for those interested in working with environmental issues. Here we discuss a few of the available opportunities and their education requirements.

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Career Options in Environmental Science

The field of environmental science incorporates a variety of jobs that work to solve environmental issues and problems. This table shows a few examples of careers that are available in the field.

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Environmental Scientists and Specialists $68,910 11%
Environmental Science and Protection Technicians $44,190 9%
Conservation Scientists $61,810 7%
Hydrologists $80,480 7%
Geoscientists $89,780 10%
Environmental Engineers $84,890 12%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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  • Environmental Sciences
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Career Information for Professions in Environmental Science

Environmental Scientists and Specialists

Environmental scientists and specialists is the primary career one may think of when pursuing a job in environmental science. These scientists and specialists work to protect the environment and human health. They solve different environmental issues through the collection of air, water, soil and other environmental samples that are analyzed for pollution or contamination. They must write detailed reports that are then available to clients, the public or government officials. Environmental scientists and specialists typically hold a bachelor's degree in one of the natural sciences, such as biology or chemistry.

Environmental Science and Protection Technicians

Environmental science and protection technicians perform similar duties to environmental scientists and specialists. They work closely with clients to monitor the environment of public places, businesses and more to prevent any contamination that can negatively affect human health. They typically work under the supervision of environmental scientists or specialists and have their data evaluated by their superior before reporting to the client and other interested parties. Their findings are then used to ensure that government regulations are met. Environmental science and protection technicians need at least an associate's degree, but may be required to have a bachelor's degree.

Conservation Scientists

Conservation scientists are responsible for managing natural resources in areas like forests and parks. In this respect they use their background in environmental science to choose the best management techniques for a particular area. They value sustainability and work to manage and conserve various natural resources. Like environmental science and protection technicians, they make sure that conservation and forestry activities meet all current government regulations. Conservation scientists may also work with landowners, farmers and other landholders to protect the environment. These professionals need a bachelor's degree.

Hydrologists

Hydrologists study water and different issues related to water, such as water quality and availability. They measure different characteristics of bodies of water, like volume, and collect samples to test for pollution. They may also monitor erosion and try to predict future water supplies or effects of water-projects, like hydroelectric power plants. Most hydrologists hold a master's degree, but some entry-level jobs are available for those with a bachelor's degree. As water plays a significant role in the environment, the work of these professionals ties in closely with environmental science.

Geoscientists

Geoscientists incorporate environmental science and other physical sciences as they study the Earth. They focus on the physical characteristics of our planet, such as its structure and natural processes, to create maps and scientific reports. Geoscientists often collect samples of rock and examine photos taken over time to better understand Earth's past and present. This can allow them to make some predictions about the planet's future. These scientists need a bachelor's degree, and may require a license in some states to work with the public.

Environmental Engineers

Environmental engineers combine extensive knowledge of environmental science, biology, chemistry and other natural sciences with engineering principles to solve environmental problems. For example, they may design new ways to improve recycling, clean water for drinking or control air pollution. These professionals are responsible for conducting quality-control checks and monitoring how programs are improving the environment. Environmental engineers require a bachelor's degree, and practical experience is an advantage.

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