Forbes recently published this list for “The Top 10 Cities for Green Jobs” and it details some of the best places to go for jobs in America related to Environmental Science. The field has growth that is slightly above average, so you can expect a favorable outlook over at least the next decade. But with an Environmental Science degree, what can you expect to do with it? As you go through your undergraduate coursework, you’ll refine what you want to do and it will leave you with a few distinct paths to pursue. The Environmental Science Institute at The University of Texas at Austin has great informational links pertaining to career options and is very worthwhile to check out. Below we’ve broken down the different general career routes you can pursue with your degree.
Academia is probably the least common of the many options environmental science students pursue after graduation, although it’s certainly a very respectable route. Pursuing a career in academia requires an advanced degree and focuses primarily on research and teaching. You’ll attend a number of conferences and work to educate students on some of the most pressing contemporary issues. Working in academia is an incredibly important undertaking. It puts one in a position to significantly influence large numbers of students through how the most important environmental issues are framed. Helping to educate students who will go on to work in the field is just as important as working in the field itself, if not more so.
Environmental scientists in the public sector compose 23% of all those working in the field. In comparison to the private sector’s 19%, it’s slightly more viable to go the public route. In the public sector, you will likely get hired into a regulatory government position, but enforcement or conservation are common as well. The conservation route can set you up to work for a non-profit even. Mother Jones has an impressive guide to environmental non-profits that gives incredibly worthwhile perspective to some notable organizations and particular aspects to avoid.
By far the most lucrative option of the three, private sector jobs in environmental science have two main subsects: research and internal regulatory work. It’s becoming increasingly common for energy companies to hire environmental scientists to research the best methods for attaining things such as oil or gas. Hydraulic fracturing has become more common in recent years and this was designed by environmental scientists. Consequentially, one of the biggest proponents against hydraulic fracturing comes from the regulatory component of different agencies and even within these companies. Organizations will hire environmental scientists for numerous reasons related to their industry, but it’s also incredibly important to understand the implications of potentially affecting the environment. Some companies may have an environmental scientist on staff to detail the ramifications of various waste disposal situations or explain why certain types of logging are outlawed.