Groundwater and Environmental Science Jobs: Salary and Career Facts
Find out about career options in groundwater and environmental science. Read about different job options, education requirements, salary and job outlook to see if this is the right field for you.
What Do Groundwater and Environmental Scientists Do?
Groundwater and environmental science jobs involve the study and analysis of water systems and other natural resources. Professionals in the field isolate and correct problems and develop plans to protect and conserve these resources for future generations. Three potential careers include hydrologists, environmental scientists and environmental science technicians. Hydrologists focus on studying water quality and distribution. Environmental scientists typically conduct various research projects to help prevent pollution and reduce threats that affect the environment and human health. Environmental science technicians collect and analyze samples and data that are used to respond to pollution issues. The following chart gives you an overview of the general requirements for some careers in this field.
|Hydrologist||Environmental scientist||Environmental Science Technician|
|Degree required||Master's degree preferred||Bachelor's degree||Associate's degree|
|Field of Study||Geosciences, engineering with a concentration in hydrology||Environmental science, geosciences, biology, chemistry||Environmental science, public health|
|Key Skills||Computer modeling, data analysis, digital mapping||Scientific analysis, technical writing, management||Laboratory skills, documentation, technical and computer skills|
|Average Salary (2018)||$82,790*||$77,580*||$50,350*|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||7%*||8%*||9%*|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Are My Options in Groundwater and Environmental Science Jobs?
You could find work as a hydrologist, specializing in the study of groundwater. In this position, you may search for new groundwater sources, discover ways to clean up water sources and implement measures to protect water sources in the future.
You might consider becoming an environmental scientist. As an environmental scientist, you'll study the environment, pollution and ways to protect the environment. You may work on methods to clean up environmental areas, protect endangered areas or analyze the pollution levels in environmental areas.
Within the groundwater and environmental field, you can choose from various career options. Hydrologists and environmental scientists are only two options you may have. Other jobs you may consider include field sampling technician, water treatment specialist, agriculture consultant, compliance officer and hazardous materials specialist.
What Education or Training Do I Need?
To work as a hydrologist, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree in geosciences, but it's more common for employers to require master's degrees. If your goal is to work in research for a college or university, you'll likely need a Ph.D. You may also want to consider programs with specializations in hydrology or environmental science.
You may be required to hold a license by the state. In some states, licensing isn't required, but you may decide to become certified through a professional organization, such as the American Institute of Hydrology, which offers certification in groundwater hydrology (www.aihydrology.org).
To become an environmental scientist, you'll typically need to hold a bachelor's degree in an earth science area. A master's degree may increase your job opportunities, and a Ph.D. may be required for research positions with colleges or universities.
What Is the Job Outlook for These Careers?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), hydrologists are expected to see 7% job growth from 2018-2028 (www.bls.gov). The increase in environmental regulations, the need for more management of water sources and an increase in population in coastal areas may contribute to job growth for groundwater hydrologists. Holding a master's degree and having experience in the field may increase your job opportunities.
The BLS projects an 8% job growth between 2018-2028 for environmental scientists. Increases in pollution and the population, along with a growing concern for the environment will help job growth in this field. There may be an increase in consulting work with contractors and builders who must conform to environmental regulations. Government positions may also provide good job opportunities.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
A couple of jobs that are related and require at least a bachelor's degree include environmental engineers and geoscientists. Environmental engineers also work to improve public health and end pollution. They use the sciences and engineering principles to solve a variety of environmental issues. Geoscientists study the physical attributes of Earth to learn more about its history. They apply their knowledge to current conditions on Earth and what impacts it may have on the future.