What You Can Do with an Environmental Science Degree
Undergraduate environmental science degree programs serve as great preparation for a variety of interesting and fulfilling careers. These careers range from geology to forestry, community outreach to research, environmental management to eco-tourism, and everything in between!
Some jobs you may be able to jump right into, while others may require further education and experience. Fortunately, if you have a passion to go further academically in your field, you will also be in a very strong position to apply to graduate school.
Jobs Board for Environmental Science Students & Grads
This environmental science careers guide contains detailed occupational information on career paths relevant to your degree. Included are job descriptions, expected salaries, educational requirements and other pertinent information related to these careers. We’ve also included environmental science-specific scholarships to help you pay for school!
Career Guides You for an Environmental Science Degree
The knowledge and skills you can gain by studying environmental science at the university level serve as an excellent foundation for the following careers (not an inclusive list):
Please Note: Some of the above listed careers require additional education, training and/or experience. Click on careers that are of interest to you to find out more about the qualifications you’ll need.
Job Postings Related to Your Environmental Science Degree!
Whether you're a student looking for a job to help you pay for school, or a graduate looking for an entry or mid-level job, our job board has opportunities directly and indirectly related to environmental science.
What Environmental Science Programs Teach You
Environmental science is an interdisciplinary field focused on the study of the environment, and solutions to environmental problems through the application of scientific methods and techniques.
Environmental sciences programs in Canada and the United States are designed to give you a broad perspective on the environment. They aim to provide you with an understanding of past and present relationships among air, water, rocks and minerals, and biota. Interactions between humans and the environment are also emphasized in these programs.
The curriculum in many of these programs provides you with a foundation in chemistry, life sciences, as well as earth and ocean sciences. In addition to lecture-based coursework, many programs also examine environmental issues through seminars and group projects.
As a result of coursework, you can develop a skill set that is directly applicable to many careers related to environmental science. These skills are increasingly in demand by employers, as there is a growing awareness of environmental issues related to the effects of industry. As a graduate of an environmental science program, you’ll have the expertise to combat many of these issues.
Through a careful selection of coursework, and depending on the school offering the program, certain environmental science degree programs can also be designed to meet registration guidelines in professional environmental science associations, such as the Canadian Council of Professional Geoscientists (CCPG).
Employable Skills You Can Gain
As an environmental science student, you’ll have the chance to acquire a knowledge base and a specific set of skills that are applicable to a variety of environmental science careers.
• An understanding the impact of geography on economic, political and cultural development
• Awareness of issues such as climate change, population trends, globalization and resource management
• Ability to measure the use of earth resources through time to understand changing environmental changes
• Familiarity with principles of resource management
• Familiarity with the impact that development and tourism have on the environment
• An understanding of techniques related to conservation and effective land management planning and use
• Ability to interpret relevant scientific information and data to assist in land-use planning and development
• Ability to gather and interpret the economic and environmental impact of environmental changes
• Thorough understanding of geographical principles and statistical techniques
• Technical skills related to field and laboratory techniques
• Cartography skills and GIS skills
• Knowledge of how to interpret and apply scientific principles, relevant legislation, policies and guidelines to environmental, corporate and industrial resource management practices
Environmental Science Careers: Sectors of Employment
Environmental employment can be classified into three distinct, yet inter-related sectors:
Sector A: Environmental Protection
• Human & Environmental Health
• Air Quality Protection
• Water Quality Protection
• Land Quality Protection
• Integrated Environmental Management
Sector B: Conservation and Preservation of Natural Resources
• Fisheries and Wildlife Management
• Parks and Outdoor Recreation
• Mining and Energy
• Natural Resources Management
Sector C: Environmental Education, Communications and Research
• Environmental Education
• Environmental Communications
• Environmental Research
• Integrated Management
• Environmental Education
• Communications and Research
Environmental Science Graduate Salary
Your salary as an environmental science graduate first entering the workforce can vary drastically, and is heavily dependent on the following factors (not an inclusive list):
• Your level of education (such as if you went on to graduate studies)
• The industry in which you find work
• The type of job you have, and your level of responsibility
• The size and type of your employer
• The region in which you work
• Other work experience you may have accrued
• Other skills you may have
Environmental Science Graduate Salary Ontario: According to a study in 2011 conducted by the Ontario Council of Universities, $42,181 CAD* is the average salary earned by Agricultural and Biological Science graduates, 2 years after graduating from Ontario universities in 2010.
*This figure is a composite of all graduates who earned a Bachelor’s degree in the Agricultural and Biological Sciences, not specifically for Environmental Science graduates. Unfortunately, similar statistics for other Canadian provinces and the United States cannot be found from reputable sources.
Do I Need a Graduate Degree?
With an undergraduate environmental science degree, there are careers you may be able to jump right into. These are typically positions with lower levels of responsibility, often referred to as “entry-level” jobs. Jobs with a higher degree of responsibility will often require further education, training and/or experience to qualify for. This typically includes most teaching, research and consulting positions.
Fortunately, if you are interested in a career that requires further education, an undergraduate degree in this field serves as a great foundation for advanced study, in this and other graduate and professional programs, such as Chemistry, Biology, Business Administration, Engineering, Journalism and Law.
Sub-Disciplines of Environmental Science
Below is a brief overview of the sub-disciplines of environmental science (not a comprehensive list). This information can help you narrow your focus concerning possible career field options.
Economic Geology: The finding and recovering of materials that can be used profitably by humans, including fuels, ores, and building materials. People in this industry usually focus on one area, such as petroleum geology.
Environmental Geology: Includes, but is not limited to, the study of the protection of human health and safety through geological processes.
Geochemistry: The application of chemistry to the study of earth, its resources, and the cycling of chemicals through its systems.
Geophysics: The study of the physics of materials such as rocks, minerals, and ice within the fields of petrology, mineralogy, and glaciology, as well as the study of seismology.
Geomorphology: The study of landforms and landscapes, usually of the changing structure and form of land surface, but can also include the study of the sea floor.
Human Geography: Involves the study of all phases of human social life in relation to the physical earth. Areas of study include: economic geography, cultural geography, ethnography, urban geography, and demography.
Hydrology: The study of water on the earth's surface, excluding the oceans.
Hydrogeology: The study of groundwater and the sources of groundwater.
Paleontology: The study of fossil life and the history of organisms' evolution and extinction.
Petrology: The study of rock formation, composition, alteration and decay.
Pollution Remediation: The study of pollution preventions well as the remediation of polluted lands and waters. Also includes the study of technologies that would decrease or prevent environmental contamination.
Sedimentology: The study of sediments and their origin.
Seismology: The study of the travel of seismic waves through the earth, either man-made or natural.
Stratigraphy: The study of the history of the earth's crust, specifically its stratified (layered) rocks. Concerned with determining age relationships of rocks as well as their distribution in space and time.
Structural Geology: The study of the form, arrangement, and internal structure of rocks, including their deformation.
Environmental Science Degree Scholarships
If you’re an environmental science major looking for help in paying for school, then you’re in luck! Our scholarships database has scholarships that are specific to your field of study, scholarships for science students in general, and scholarships that are open to any field of study.
Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any and all scholarships for which you qualify, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships in Canada and the United States that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants.
Professional Associations for Careers in Environmental Science
To find out more about careers directly related to your environmental science degree, consult the following professional association websites. They offer career-related information, and many have opportunities for student membership, as well as job placement and mentoring opportunities.