Make the Future Green
Environmental scientists protect human health and the environment. They study the Earth’s systems of energy and materials – the biosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere, and atmosphere – to understand the effects of human growth, development and technology on the environment and the quality of life.
The goal of environmental scientists is to find practical solutions to environmental and/or health problems such as loss of biodiversity and endangered species, rising carbon dioxide levels and global climate change, deforestation, wetlands conservation, and toxic chemical contaminants.
The field of environmental science is broad and interdisciplinary. The field requires expertise in the natural sciences like biology, chemistry, geology, and physics. Some of the topics studied and specialized in the field are climatology; ecology; environmental health and safety; wildlife and fish conservation; water resource science, policy, and management; chemical contamination; environmental law; forestry; and sustainable systems and development. Environmental scientists work in offices and laboratories. Some may spend time in the field gathering data and monitoring environmental conditions.
According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, growth of employment opportunities in the field of environmental science is projected to be higher than the average for all occupations. However, this estimate of growth may actually be low considering the global environmental issues.
Environmental scientists are involved in producing the water we drink, growing the food we eat, disposing of our wastes, working on alternative energy sources, building and developing green buildings and communities, and preventing or remediating contamination of our air, water, and soils. Heightened public interest in environmental issues combined with the increasing demands placed on the environment by population growth is expected to increase the demand for environmental scientists.
The majority of entry-level positions in environmental science require a Bachelor’s of Science (BS) degree in environmental science or a related natural science degree. The career opportunities in the field of environmental science usually depend on the exact specialty.
University degree programs often have different specialties; therefore, care must be taken in selecting the program that is appropriate for securing a job in the desired area. Because the field of environmental science is so diverse and the spectrum of job opportunities is so wide, students may often choose to double major.
For example, if interested in environmental advocacy or advertising, a second major or minor in communications would better prepare the student for an entry-level position. In addition to the BS degree, certification in a specific field may be obtained to be/remain competitive. The National Registry of Environmental Professionals is an accredited organization that offers certification in a variety of specified fields including the following:
- Certified Environmental Scientist (CES)
- Certified Industrial Environmental Toxicologist (CIET)
- Sustainable Initiative Manager (CSIM)
- Certified Environmental and Safety Compliance Officer (CESCO)
- Mold Awareness Specialist (MAS)
- Many environmental scientists go on to pursue a higher-level degree in order to specialize and gain more knowledge in a specific field of expertise. For most industrial or consulting employment opportunities, a Master’s of Science (MS) degree provides the required specialization. Typically, an MS is required to become an environmental engineer. A Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) is often required to conduct research and/or teach at the university level. After obtaining a background in environmental science, completion of law school is a requirement to become an environmental lawyer.
- Environmental engineers: $104,815*
- Environmental scientists: $75,634*
- Forest and conservation workers: $39,642*
*Source: www.texaswages.com, 2020 annual median salaries for the Gulf Coast region.