What Are Some Popular Career Options in Environmental Science?

Job prospects are favorable for several environmental science careers. Read on for an overview of four popular environmental science fields that require education ranging from an associate's degree to a graduate degree. Schools offering Environmental Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Environmental Science Careers Overview

Environmental science is a diverse field, encompassing jobs like ecologist, air quality technician, sustainable building consultant, wildlife biologist, soil conservationist, natural resource planner, solar power engineer and environmental educator. Below you can read the job descriptions for some example careers in environmental science and get information on the typical education requirements and salary.

Important Facts About a Career in Environmental Science

Work EnvironmentEngineering services, technical consulting, federal and state government
Key SkillsPrepare environmental reports, analyze data, advise government officials on important environmental issues, perform inspections and ensure compliance with environmental regulations
SpecializationsClimate change, hazardous materials, legal, public health
Professional CertificationWetland Scientist, Soil Scientist, Hydrologist Surface Water, Hydrologist Groundwater, and Hydrologist Water Quality

Environmental Science Technology

Entry-level positions in this field usually require an associate's degree or 2-year certificate. Most environmental science technicians assist environmental scientists in research by collecting samples and performing field tests. Others, who are referred to as protection technicians, are responsible for inventorying hazardous material and ensuring organizational compliance with environmental safety regulations.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), environmental science and protection technicians earned a mean yearly wage of $45,910 in 2014. Faster than average job growth of 9% is expected in this field from 2014-2024, and the most job openings are expected in private consulting.

Environmental Science Consulting

Many types of environmental scientists consult for public or private organizations. Energy consultants, for example, specialize in energy management and waste reduction and help companies reduce costs by conserving resources. Environmental scientists, including consultants, need at least a bachelor's degree to qualify for employment, though an advanced degree can open additional job opportunities.

Among all scientists and specialists, the BLS predicts a 11% job growth for the 2014-2024 period. Also, environmental scientists who are trained in using technology like GIS and computer modeling often stand out in the job market. According to the BLS, environmental scientists and specialists had an average annual wage of $72,050 in 2014.

Environmental Engineering

Engineers that specialize in environmental science design infrastructure to promote health and reduce environmental hazards. They typically work on large projects, such as water treatment, waste management or pollution control. The entry-level education is a bachelor's degree, though graduate degree programs that can prepare you for higher-level research and design projects are also available. Employers typically value practical experience, so environmental engineering students should consider completing a co-op. Earning a Professional Engineer (PE) license can also improve job prospects. Furthermore, board certification for environmental engineers is available.

Overall, the employment outlook for environmental engineers is good. A 12% increase in employment of environmental engineers is expected between 2014 and 2024, and the average salary in 2014 for environmental engineers was $86,340, according to the BLS.


Hydrologists study the physical properties and distribution of water. They may specialize in surface water or underground water. Many use remote sensing techniques to investigate the movement of water through the Earth and its return to the ocean or the atmosphere. Hydrologists often work for consulting firms or perform research for public and private organizations. A master's degree or Ph.D. is usually required to advance a career in hydrology.

Per the BLS, the 2014 mean salary for hydrologists was $81,930. An employment increase of 7% is expected for hydrologists between 2014 and 2024, with employers preferring applicants who have computer modeling skills.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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