According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth in the Environmental Science field is projected to be 15% through 2022. This estimate, which is faster than the average growth, is conservative considering the environmental challenges facing the planet across all industries. Pursuing a degree in Environmental Science offers one of the best returns on your investment at the Bachelors level. There are plenty of career paths that pay great and offer high job satisfaction for those with just a Bachelors degree. Here is everything you need to know about completing your degree, as well as the wide selection of career paths available upon graduation.
Earning an Environmental Science Degree
Today’s educational climate offers you a couple of choices for pursuing your degree. Instead of the traditional route, you can opt to complete your courses online. The only catch is, depending on your chosen career path; you may have to go to a physical campus for a course or two. Here is a list of topics studied in pursuit of an Environmental Science degree.
– Wildlife & Fish Conservation
– Water Science
– Water Policy & Management
– Human Impact on the Climate
– Environmental Law
– Urban Forestry
– Sustainable Ecosystems
As you can see from this list, there is a wide spectrum of career paths available for Environmental Science majors. The specialization you choose determines whether or not you need to continue to graduate studies. For example, graduate school is a requirement if you want to become an environmental lawyer or an Environmental Studies professor. Those who want to pursue a career in pure research also go on to get their doctorate.
With that being said, there are several career options for those who hold a bachelor’s degree. The typical Bachelors degree includes general education classes, as well as a couple of upper division courses in Math. The rest of the credits are filled with classes on the topics in the list above, with an additional number of credits in your specialization.
Career Options for Environmental Science Majors
A typical misconception of a degree in the Sciences is the only job option involves wearing a lab coat and researching some obscure scientific breakthrough. This misconception is especially false when it comes to Environmental Science. Environmental scientists handle growing the food we eat, treating the water we drink and solving problems such as energy scarcity and the climate change crisis.
Environmental Science covers a broad area of study. A person who analyzes chemical levels in a town’s water supply and a person who studies the effect of deforestation on the local ecosystem are both environmental scientists.
Resource Management Jobs
Every single water treatment plant in the country employs at least one environmental scientist to ensure the water is safe to consume. They also study local impacts of man-made pollutants on the surrounding ecosystem in relation to its effect on the water supply.
“Big AgriBusiness” is a huge employer of environmental scientists who specialize in Horticulture. Gone are the days of the small-time farmer who goes with his gut when he plants his crops. Farms are now essentially massive factories responsible for feeding hundreds of millions of people. Things like planting schedules, nutrient mixtures, cloning, and breeding are all now done by an environmental scientist to maximize yield and genetic strength.
Environmental Advocacy Jobs
Non-profit organizations are another big employer of environmental science graduates. This is the career path for those who want to be on the front line of making a difference. While the pay may not be as great as some of the other options, it is an excellent opportunity for networking. Many Eco- activist groups recruit environmental scientists to provide concrete statistical analysis that supports the specific change for which the group is advocating. They also perform the preliminary research that is the foundation for any proposed policy change.
Environmental law is another avenue for those who want to affect environmental policy. While this path requires more schooling than the others, it is also the most rewarding. A legal case involving a business in violation of environmental law often involves millions of dollars. These cases earn you a hefty commission while providing you a forum to defend Mother Nature.
Animal lovers are best fit for a career in zoology. This can involve anything from working at zoos and wildlife reserves, to working in foreign countries advocating for habitat conservation. Daily duties include interacting with rare and exotic animals and researching ways to help these species adapt to their changing environments.
Research and Teaching Jobs
If you have a passion for research and shaping young minds, then the professorship avenue is right for you. This requires a doctorate, but most programs offer paid experience in the form of teaching undergraduate courses as a Graduate Assistant. This gives you teaching experience while allowing you to absorb information from some of the best minds in the field.
With today’s issues regarding climate change and energy scarcity, it is safe to assume that these two areas will see steady growth in years to come. Environmental scientists in the energy sector occupy a variety of roles. There are some whose job is to analyze how to extract, utilize, and distribute resources like oil and coal effectively. Others have the job of studying how we can start using alternative energy sources like solar,the wind, and water to replace our finite fossil fuels.
Solar is one industry in particular that is experiencing explosive growth. These solar companies are shelling out big salaries to scientists so they can develop more effective solar panels.
Climate studies is another area that is set to experience explosive growth. While some areas of the country have chosen to deny the importance of climate change, the reality is globalized industrialization has drastically sped up the process. The United States government employs hundreds of scientists whose sole job is figuring out how to reduce the country’s carbon footprint. Many industries in the private sector have also invested in reducing their environmental impact. As the country becomes more “green”, the pockets of environmental scientists become greener as well.