As the nation's focus on the environment continues to grow, there is an ever-increasing demand for environmental science jobs. If you're seeking a career in this field, you can look forward to a far more robust job market than graduates of many other disciplines, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Where to find environmental science jobs
You can find opportunities for environmental science careers in a variety of areas, including private industries, educational institutions, and government agencies (federal, state, or local). As an environmental scientist, you might decide to pursue teaching, research, or consulting positions.
Although employers will hire candidates with a bachelor's degree for some entry-level positions, most companies and government agencies prefer a master's degree from environmental science programs. A doctorate degree from a graduate school is generally required for research or college teaching positions.
Consulting firms offer opportunities for an environmental scientist to help businesses and government agencies comply with environmental policy. Generally, there are two types of consulting firms: the larger multi-disciplinary engineering companies can have thousands of employees who work on large, long-term projects, while the smaller specialty consulting firms work more often with businesses and clients in the government and private sectors.
Certain states or cities may have a higher concentration of environmental science jobs than others, so be sure to investigate current trends.
Salary ranges for environmental science careers vary due to the different types of work you can do and the different types of employers you might work for. The Occupational Outlook Handbook, provided by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, offers basic salary information about many environmental science jobs.
What you'll do
In general, an environmental scientist seeks to protect the environment by studying the earth's properties, locating and preserving resources, predicting hazards, and providing assessments and advice on environmental issues.
You can also choose to specialize in subfields that take a narrower view on environmental issues as they relate to specific disciplines or topics, such as biology, chemistry, conservation, ecology, or engineering.
For example, hydrologists focus specifically on studying the properties, distribution and effects of water on the earth's surface, in the soil and in the atmosphere, while environmental engineers develop solutions to prevent environmental damage, clean up hazards, and help companies or agencies comply with regulations.
Whether you work out in the field, in a lab, at the office, or in a classroom, you'll have the knowledge that you're in a fast-growing field that can offer a variety of career opportunities.