What Can You Do With An Environmental Science Degree?

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Environmental science is the study of addressing issues caused by both living and nonliving things within the environment and developing ways to fix these issues with the use of biological, physical, and information sciences. A large part of environmental science focuses on the impact that human beings have on the environment. If you are currently in high school trying to decide what path to take when you finally walk across that stage and receive your hard-earned diploma, why not consider environmental science? In order to determine if that’s the right path for you, the most important question is, “What can I do with a degree in environmental science?”

Studying Environmental Science

Environmental science is a very important field of study, because it helps people understand the world around them so that they may address and solve problems with the environment in order to preserve the earth as well as its inhabitants. In order to best understand environmental science, it is important to look at a variety of subjects. Below are just a few examples of what environmental scientists study.

Ecology – observation of interactions between plants and the earth

Geology – observation of the history and physical components that make up the earth

Economics – observation of how people use the earth

Sociology – observation of interactions between societies and the earth

How to Get an Environmental Science Degree

In order to get a degree in environmental science, first you need to find a school that will offer you exactly what you’re looking for. Below are three schools with excellent environmental science programs. Remember when applying, you should always apply to at least three schools. Always have a backup plan.

Northland College in Ashland, WI, was founded in 1892, and it is one of the top schools in the United States for environmental science. The school itself is a liberal arts college that has a strong concentration in environmental studies. Students looking to get into environmental science can earn a Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Geosciences, during which time they will learn the ins and outs of the earth, its elements, and how individuals and societies are impacted by the earth as well as how it effects individuals and societies. They will use top-notch equipment to create maps to display their findings during their field experience and demonstrate their understanding of how these interactions can be improved. The school also offers a major in Environmental Education.

The College of Environmental Science and Forestry at the State University of New York offers its students 6 different majors specifically related to environmental science in addition to an associates degree in Environmental and Natural Resources Conservation. These programs mix together to cover everything from environmental law and policy to identification and life history of organisms to secondary education certifications. Graduate programs include environmental physiology, ecological engineering, entomology, and more. Refer to the school website for detailed information on master degrees and doctoral degrees.

The University of Queensland in Australia also has highly-rated environmental science and management programs in which undergraduates can earn their bachelor degrees. These programs cover everything from resources to toxicology to natural systems and wildlife. They prepare students for handling environmental challenges by the use of excellent problem solving, analytical, and research skills so that students are ready to tackle issues affecting individuals, societies, and their environments.

Careers in Environmental Science

Many career paths will become available to you once you earn your degree in environmental science. Whether you like to get your hands dirty or you prefer to educate individuals on the importance of safe and healthy environments, an environmental science degree can help you achieve your dream job.

Entry Level Careers in Environmental Science

With a bachelors degree in environmental science, you’re sure to find a job that will put your knowledge to the test.

Health and Safety Coordinator

Health and safety coordinators have a very important job. They are often responsible for training other employees in health and safety precautions and procedures as well as helping to develop plans for proper health and safety techniques and assisting in enforcing said plans within a company. They are also known to occasionally perform inspections of areas for cleanliness and safety. Health and safety coordinators need to have excellent problem solving and analytical skills as well as proper written and verbal communication skills.

Health safety coordinators can earn anywhere from $30,000 to over $60,000 annually.

Development Technician

If you’re interested in finding ways to improve products’ environmental-friendliness, then perhaps you should consider a job as a development technician. Development technicians are responsible for ensuring the environmental and personal safety of everyday products from toiletries to surfboards. For this reason, they must have impeccable problem solving skills, and it is preferred that they have been trained in dealing with physical and natural sciences. Analytical skills are particularly impressive. Much of the time, they find themselves working in laboratories.

Entry level development technicians can earn around $32,000 annually.

Wildlife Biologist

Do you have a passion for protecting wildlife in addition to keeping humans and their pets safe from potential environmental threats? If so, consider a position as a wildlife biologist. Wildlife biologists are responsible for ensuring the safety and health of human property and wild animals and plant life by assisting in the planning and execution of ways to protect property and agriculture from being harmed by wildlife. They also create reports on services and proper procedures of these plans.

Of course it varies by location, but wildlife biologists can earn over $50,000 annually.

Advanced Careers in Environmental Science

Once you’ve gained a significant amount of experience in your field of study or you’ve achieved a masters or doctoral degree in a branch of environmental science, you will qualify for many more job opportunities. Some of these paths are listed below.

Professor of Environmental Science

Once you earn a doctoral degree, you can land a job as an environmental science professor at a college or university. There, you will educate students on many things you learned during your years of higher education in environmental science, including but not limited to research and analysis techniques, the elements of the earth and how they impact living organisms, and toxicology. Outstanding written and verbal communication skills are necessary so that you will be able to communicate with your students in groups or individually during office hours in order to help them better understand the subject.

Environmental science professors can earn around $78,000 annually, depending on their level of experience and how many classes they teach per year.

Environmental Engineer

Much of an environmental engineer’s time is spent researching specific information related to the environment and how it impacts society. After analyzing conclusive results, they develop and perform tests to determine solutions for problems associated with the environment and society. They also write up reports on their findings and tests; therefore, excellent written communication is necessary, as are impeccable research and analytical skills.

Environmental engineers can earn over $85,000 annually.

Environmental Project Manager

Environmental project managers are responsible for making sure that everything runs smoothly during field testing of water, soil, air, etc. They oversee research groups and assist them in analyzing and collecting data samples when necessary. They can also supervise performance on construction sites, as well, to help prevent serious environmental damage that may effect both wildlife and civilization. For this reason, they need excellent managerial and communication skills as well as experience in research and analysis.

An environmental project manager with a bachelors degree can earn around $60,00 annually; whereas an environmental project manager with a masters degree is capable of earning over $90,000 a year.

Companies that Hire People with Environmental Science Degrees

Many places are in search of individuals with degrees related to environmental science, because many companies are interested in making the world a safer, healthier place. Some examples of companies that have jobs in environmental science open from time to time are located below.

Kroner Environmental Services, Inc. – located in Los Angeles, CA; environmental management and planning company; offers internships for students; hires environmental site supervisors, workers, and other managerial positions

Modern Industries, Inc. – three locations throughout western PA; hires customer support representatives, sales representatives, etc.

Texas A&M University – located in College Station, TX; hires positions for environmental science professors and department heads

American Samoa Power Authority – providing since 1981; economical utility service; hires environmental engineers with a variety of specialties

The information provided here is meant to help start your journey in environmental science, from colleges to available jobs. Always remember to apply to at least three schools, and never stop job hunting until you’ve landed the job that makes you happy.

Author: Rose Boettinger

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  • Ralph Alvarado

    I chose environmental science because I wanted a broad background that allowed me to explore different sciences and chart my own course of study. I was not impressed by the rigidity of other courses of study. My degree in environmental science has really set me up for success in my career. I am an elementary engineering teacher. Having a broad background benefits me every day as a teacher. I can confidently teach any science content class.

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