Careers with an Environmental Science Degree

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Undergraduate environmental science degree programs serve as great preparation for a variety of interesting and fulfilling careers, both related to the field, and outside of it. 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.

 

 

This 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!

 

 

 

 

List of Careers Directly Related to the Field

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):

 

Agricultural Consultant

Agricultural Extension Supervisor

Agrologist

Air Pollution Monitor

Biological Technologist

Blogger

Chemical Oceanographer

Climatologist

Conservation Officer

Consumer Advocate

Corporate Social Responsibility Manager

Ecologist

Elementary School Teacher

Energy Auditor

Energy Engineer

Energy Policy Analyst

Environmental Analyst

Environmental Auditor

Environmental Chemist

Environmental Consultant

Environmental Education Assistant

Environmental Education Officer

Environmental Impact Assessment Specialist

Environmental Lawyer

Environmental Manager

Environmental Policy Officer

Environmental Scientist

Environmental Technician

Farmer

Fluvial Geomorphologist

Forest Technician

Geologist

Geoscience Technician

Geoscientist

Global Warming Advocate

Greenhouse Operator

Hazardous Waste Technologist

High School Teacher

Hydrogeologist

Hydrographer

Hydrologist

Industrial Hygienist

International Aid Worker

ISO Auditor

Journalist

Laboratory Manager

Land Agent

Lobbyist

Market Gardener

Meteorologist

Municipal Environmental Coordinator

Natural Resource Policy Analyst

Natural Resources Manager

Natural Resources Planner

Naturalist

Nursery Operator

Oceanographer

Park Warden

Parks Planner

Project Assistant

Public Health Inspector

Recycling Coordinator

Remote Sensing Technician

Research Assistant

Sanitation Engineer

Science Advisor

Science Writer

Soil Conservationist

Soil Scientist

Statistician

Survey Technician

Tour Guide

University Professor

Urban Planner

Waste Reduction Coordinator

Wastewater Operator

Wastewater Treatment Engineer

Water Quality Control Manager

Water Resources Specialist

Wildlife Biologist

 

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 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.

 

Find Environmental Science Related Job Opportunities

 


 

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.

 

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

• Forestry

• Agriculture

• 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

 

 

 

Average Salary Levels of Graduates

The salary you could earn with an environmental science degree varies based on a wide variety of factors, such as:
 
• The type, size, and budget of your employer
• The discretion of your employer
• Your level of education and experience
• Your level of certification (if applicable)
• The region in which you work 
• How much overtime you are able to work (if applicable)
• The amount of responsibility inherent in your position
• Your level of experience (it’s worth noting that people with several years worth of experience can often earn substantially in their profession more than what’s listed below)
 
The salary you could earn as a graduate of this field is also highly dependent on the occupation you pursue. Below is an overview of the average earnings of people in a few career fields that are relevant to a degree in environmental science. Please note however, that the salary information listed below is meant only to serve as a guideline. In many cases, workers in these fields can earn a much lower, or much higher salary, than what is listed below. 


Agricultural Consultant
Alberta: $92,817 (ALIS)
Canada: N/A
United States: N/A

 

Agrologist
Alberta: $92,817 (ALIS)
Canada: $65,334 (PayScale)
United States: $62,910 (BLS)

 

Air Pollution Monitor
Alberta: $62,913 (ALIS)
Canada: $57,302 (Glassdoor)
United States: $45,490 (BLS)

 

Blogger
Alberta: N/A
Canada: N/A
United States: $36,580 (indeed)

 

Chemical Oceanographer
Alberta: $128,940 (ALIS)
Canada: N/A
United States: $101,541 (Glassdoor)

 

Climatologist
Alberta: $86,419 (ALIS)
Canada: N/A
United States: $92,070 (BLS)

 

Conservation Officer
Alberta: $70,214 (ALIS)
Canada: $51,049 (PayScale)
United States: $58,570 (BLS)

 

Corporate Social Responsibility Manager
Alberta: N/A
Canada: $79,427 (PayScale)
United States: $80,000 (PayScale)

 

Ecologist
Alberta: $84,998
Canada: $69,637 (indeed)
United States: $65,804 (indeed)

 

Energy Engineer
Alberta: N/A
Canada: $91,799 (indeed)
United States:$82,839 (indeed)

 

Environmental Analyst
Alberta: $80,949 (ALIS)
Canada: $79,902 (indeed)
United States: $79,446 (indeed)

 

Environmental Consultant
Alberta: N/A
Canada: $75,504 (indeed)
United States: $66,279 (indeed)

 

Environmental Impact Assessment Specialist
Alberta: $80,949 (ALIS)
Canada: $80,539 (Glassdoor)
United States: N/A

 

Environmental Lawyer
Alberta: $137,072 (ALIS)
Canada: N/A
United States: $122,531 (indeed)

 

Environmental Policy Officer
Alberta: N/A
Canada: $80,782 (Glassdoor)
United States: $65,000 (Glassdoor)

 

Environmental Scientist
Alberta: $75,812 (ALIS)
Canada: $62,849 (indeed)
United States: $58,665 (indeed)

 

Environmental Technician
Alberta: N/A
Canada: $46,810 (PayScale)
United States: $41,077 (indeed)

 

Farmer
Alberta: N/A
Canada: N/A
United States: $69,620 (BLS)

 

Forest Technician
Alberta: $63,945 (ALIS)
Canada: $51,000 (PayScale)
United States: $39,180 (BLS)

 

Geologist
Alberta: $128,940 (ALIS - Higher salary could be due to high levels of employment for geologists in the Oil & Gas industry in Alberta)
Canada: $76,299 (PayScale)
United States: $71,040 (BLS)

 

Greenhouse Operator
Alberta: $59,186 (ALIS)
Canada: N/A
United States: $45,530 (PayScale)

 

Hazardous Waste Technologist
Alberta: $80,949 (ALIS)
Canada: N/A
United States: N/A

 

High School Teacher
Alberta: $73,966 (ALIS)
Canada: $58,000 (PayScale)
United States: $59,170 (BLS)

 

ISO Auditor
Alberta: $80,949 (ALIS)
Canada: $56,749 (PayScale)
United States: $70,762 (Glassdoor)

 

Meteorologist
Alberta: $86,419 (ALIS)
Canada: N/A
United States: $92,070 (BLS)

 

Natural Resources Manager
Alberta: N/A
Canada: $65,875 (indeed)
United States: $79,500 (PayScale)

 

Oceanographer
Alberta: $128,940 (ALIS)
Canada: N/A
United States: $86,177 (Glassdoor)

 

Park Warden
Alberta: $70,214 (ALIS)
Canada: N/A
United States: N/A

 

Public Health Inspector
Alberta: $80,949 (ALIS)
Canada: $69,634 (PayScale)
United States: N/A

 

Remote Sensing Technician
Alberta: $74,501 (ALIS - Higher salary may be due to high levels of employment for remote sensing technicians in the oil and gas industry in Alberta)
Canada: $49,063 (PayScale)
United States: $43,340 (BLS)

 

Science Writer
Alberta: $58,979 (ALIS)
Canada: $56,634 (PayScale)
United States: $57,549 (BLS)

 

Soil Scientist
Alberta: $75,812
Canada: $75,000 (PayScale)
United States: $69,170 (BLS)

 

Survey Technician
Alberta: $55,746 (ALIS)
Canada: $49,640 (indeed)
United States: $43,340 (BLS)

 

Tour Guide
Alberta: $20,014 (ALIS)
Canada: $31,020 (PayScale)
United States: $20,320 (Glassdoor)

 

Urban Planner
Alberta: $96,293 (ALIS)
Canada: $93,930 (indeed)
United States: $71,490 (BLS)

 

Wastewater Operator
Alberta: $63,721 (ALIS)
Canada: $69,245 (PayScale)
United States: $69,444 (Glassdoor)

 

Wastewater Treatment Engineer
Alberta: $99,194 (ALIS)
Canada: $80,421 (indeed)
United States: $69,444 (Glassdoor)

 

Water Resources Specialist
Alberta: $63,721 (ALIS)
Canada: $69,245 (PayScale)
United States: $69,400 (BLS)


The name in brackets next to the salary data for each region is the sources from which the data was obtained. Please note, the salary data that is sourced from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) represents median salary figures, rather than average salary figures.

 


Salary Data Reference Information

ALIS: Alberta Learning and Information Service (alis.alberta.ca), sponsored by the Government of Alberta. For an overview of their salary survey methodology, please visit here.

PayScale: Private organization owned by PayScale Incorporated (payscale.com). For an overview of their salary survey methodology, please visit here.
BLS: United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov), sponsored by the federal government of the United States of America. For details regarding their salary survey methodology, please visit here.
Glassdoor: indeed is a private organization owned by Glassdoor incorporated (glassdoor.com). For an overview of their salary survey methodology, please visit here.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

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.

 

 

Environmental Science 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

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.

 

Canada

Canadian Society of Environmental Biologists

Canadian Water Resource Association

Environmental Careers Organization

 

United States

American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists

American Sanctuary Association

American Wind Energy Association

Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences

Ecological Society of America

National Association of Environmental Professionals

 

 


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