Jobs you can get with an environmental science degree

Posted January 18, 2021

Want a job that really makes a difference, not only now but for the future? Consider getting your degree in Environmental Science. 

If you dream of engineering the world to be a more sustainable, healthy place for future generations, you’ve come to the right place. We’re about to give you an overview of the field of environmental sciences, and delve into some of the highest-paying environmental science jobs that will be within your reach once you obtain your environmental science degree.

At CareerBliss, we believe that job happiness isn’t just something you should dream of; it’s something you deserve to obtain for yourself. As you know if you’ve been following our blogs, job happiness is multifaceted; when you get a degree and a job in environmental science, not only can you feel great on the job knowing you’re making a difference, but you can earn a great salary while you do so. 

For new grads looking for a job in the field with their environmental science degree, you can typically get an entry-level job in an exciting, cutting-edge field with a bachelor’s degree. The median salary for environmental jobs is $71,360 annually (or $34.31 per hour). And best of all there are so many jobs in this exciting field--jobs that enable you to be a world-changer. 

What exactly is environmental science?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Environmental scientists and specialists use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment and human health. They may clean up polluted areas, advise policymakers, or work with industry to reduce waste.” expands on job responsibilities further, to include “conducting research to identify, control, or eliminate sources of pollutants or hazards affecting the environment or public health. Their research generally involves determining data collection methods; collecting and analyzing air, water, and soil samples; analyzing environmental data gathered by others; and analyzing for correlations to human activity. They also need to prepare reports and presentations that explain their findings… Environmental scientists also develop plans to prevent, control, or fix environmental problems like air pollution. They may also advise government officials that make policy, and businesses that need to follow regulations or improve their practices. Some conduct environmental inspections of businesses. Many assess the potential effects of development projects to prevent creating new problems.”

Every day, environmental scientists are making a difference through the very important work they do to ensure a better, safer, cleaner tomorrow. 

Why the environmental sciences matter

The earth is getting warmer. 2019 was the second warmest year on record, with average temperatures 1.8 degrees warmer than any other time in the 20th century. All together, the last 5 years (since 2015) have been the warmest years between 1880-2019. 

Today, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is about 416 part​s per million, which is directly contributing to the earth heating up. Environmental scientists are doing what they can to not only mitigate but reverse the effects of climate change on the environment and the world.

But just in case you need further evidence of why the environmental sciences matter, have a listen to what the experts have said about climate change.

Jane Goodall: “Deforestation is changing our climate, harming people and the natural world. We must, and can, reverse this trend.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt: “A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.”

Albert Einstein: “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live.”

Wangari Maathai: “You cannot protect the environment unless you empower people, you inform them, and you help them understand that these resources are their own, that they must protect them.”

Mahatma Gandhi: “What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another … ”

Steve Irwin: “The single biggest threat to our planet is the destruction of habitat and along the way loss of precious wildlife. We need to reach a balance where people, habitat, and wildlife can co-exist – if we don’t everyone loses … one day.”

Environmental science degrees stats

Environmental science degrees are growing in popularity. And it’s a great thing, considering the current state of the heating world. In 2017, there were 7,996 degrees awarded  from universities. Students who have graduated with their degrees in environmental science go on to earn an average wage of $68,265. Currently, there are about 373,404 people in the workforce, with an average age of 40. 

There are many universities to choose from when getting your environmental science degree. The median in-state tuition is $6,916, and the median out-of-state private tuition is $33,335. 

There are so many jobs in environmental sciences. Although a Master’s Degree may be required for some more advanced positions, once you have your bachelor’s degree you can begin applying for jobs in the growing field. 

However, if you plan to work in a field that deals with hazardous waste, or simply want to increase your opportunities by expanding your knowledge and abilities, you may need additional certifications, such as a HAZWOPER (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response) certificate, CPESC (Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control) and Certified Wetland Delineator. Remember, when you’re applying for jobs in this field or any field, you want to make sure you stand out from the competition vying for the same job. Having certifications in addition to your degree can help give you the upper hand in the job search.

Preparing your resume for an job in environmental sciences

As you prepare your resume and list any relevant experience, courses or certifications that may help you stand out, be sure to include your skills which can pertain to the job. The skills below are very important within the environmental sciences; if you have them, be sure to list them out on your resume. If you don’t have some of these skills, now is a great time to start developing them so you’ll be ready to go for it once you get an email or call regarding your job application. These skills that are pertinent to jobs in environmental sciences include:

  • Analysis skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Composing lab reports
  • Organizational skills
  • Time management skills
  • Proposing environmental solutions
  • Collaboration skills
  • Deductive reasoning
  • Communication skills
  • Conducting quantitative research
  • Identifying environmental issues
  • Environmental sampling skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Research skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Science and math skills
  • Data-gathering skills
  • Writing scientific research papers

Environmental Science Jobs

Some of the most popular jobs you can do with a degree in environmental science include:

  • Agricultural engineer
  • Anthropologist
  • Archaeologist
  • Bioinformatics
  • Climatologist
  • Ecologist
  • Entomologist
  • Geographer
  • Hydrologist
  • Marine Biologist
  • Meteorologist
  • Microbiologist
  • Molecular Biologist
  • Oceanographer
  • Paleontologist
  • Seismologist
  • Wildlife Biologist
  • Zoologist

7 particularly high-paying environmental science jobs

  • Environmental Biologists earn a national average salary of $75,756 per year. Environmental Biologists analyze and assess the environment, including the weather, the air, the soil, etc. Once they collect and study samples to determine what is going on in the environment, they can then create plans and make recommendations to protect the earth and the creatures therein.
  • Environmental Engineers earn a national average salary of $79,617 per year. Environmental Engineers design systems much the same as other engineers, only they systems they design and develop have the same end goal: to protect the environment. Projects may include recycling various substances (including waste) to be turned into energy, or reclaiming water to be a responsible, respectful citizen of the earth. 
  • Environmental Health Officers can earn a national average salary of $82,879 per year maintaining environmental and public health standards for the private or public sectors. 
  • Meteorologists earn a national average salary of $85,647 per year. While meteorologists may not be what you think of when you think of an environmental scientist, they certainly are just that. Meteorologists study and analyze our atmosphere and weather patterns and conditions to keep track of the climate. 
  • Water Quality Scientists earn a national average salary of $82,297 per year doing everything from testing and alanzyling water, and coming up with solutions to ensure water is clean, healthy and usable. They also test and report on polluted water sources and ensure quality drinking water.
  • Environmental Health and Safety Officers earn a national average salary of $88,780 per year, ensuring that processes in the workplace meet all safety regulations and industry standards. For those companies or processes that don’t meet the standards, they may create recommendations and blueprints for improvement.

What is the future and outlook for environmental science jobs?

Environmental science is a growing field which will only become more popular and critical as the years go on. In fact, environmental science is growing at a rate of 8% per year, much faster than the average job. In 2019, there were 90,900 jobs in the environmental sciences, with 7,100 new jobs expected to be added to the job market through 2029. 

As of 2012, most environmental scientists (22%) worked in state government. Another 21% worked for companies providing management, scientific, and technical consulting services. These professionals usually help companies comply with regulations. 14% worked for local government agencies. 10% provided engineering services, and 7% worked for the federal government.

We love these stats. More people than ever are doing truly exciting things to save their world, and we think that is absolutely amazing. With the job growth taking place in Environmental Science over the next decade, there’s never been a better time to move in that direction, whether or not you’re just starting your career, or looking to transition to a career on the cutting-edge.

The CareerBliss Team

CareerBliss cares about your career happiness. That's why we offer a variety of great tools and resources to help you make better-informed career decisions. We believe that if you're happier at work, you'll be happier in life! Check out company reviews, salary information, career advice and, of course, millions of jobs on CareerBliss and choose happy today!

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