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Environmental Science Jobs

Environmental science includes broad scientific areas such as ecology, environmental chemistry, environmental biology, and geology. It also includes lesser known areas of study such as natural resource use and conservation, climate change, soil and water science, and pollution. The bottom line in environmental science is simple: the protection and conservation of all aspects of our environment: air, land, and water.

Growing "Green" Fields of Environmental Science

Ecology

Ecology is focused on the study living organisms and their environment.

This includes the distribution and abundance of organisms, how living things interact with each other and their environment, and biological and physical processes.

Environmental Chemistry

This field of environmental science focuses on the pollution and contamination of the environment caused by chemicals (soil contamination, air and water pollution).

Environmental Biology

This field of environmental science focuses on the effects of environmental conditions on biological systems. Studies are focused on individual organisms (or species) and their interaction with the environment. Environmental scientists also study the fields of genetics and ecological biodiversity. In addition, environmental biological study incorporates such areas as climate change, pollution, human encroachment, and water and soil erosion and its effects on ecosystems.

Education

All environmental scientists are required to have a college degree in a related field. Most are required to hold an advanced degree (MA or PhD). In college, future environmental scientists may take courses in ecology, geography, chemistry, biology, earth science, and physics. Math and statistics (for analysis, and an understanding of measurements and data), and law (for work with governments and organizations like the EPA) may also be part of a studentís curriculum, depending on which direction they want to take after obtaining their degree.

Top Academic Programs

  • University of Wisconsin, Institute for Environmental Studies
  • University of Vermont, Rubenstein School of Natural Resources
  • University of Alaska Fairbanks, Program in Natural Resources
  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, School of Natural Resources
  • SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
  • Oregon State University, Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society
  • Arizona State University, Environmental Technology Program
  • Purdue University, Department of Forest and Natural Resources
  • Indiana University, School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA)
  • Boston University, Center for Energy and Environmental Studies

Professional Outlook

As our population grows, we will need environmental scientists to study the effects that human interference and global climate change will have on the environment and the earth (the largest ecosystem). Also, with this constant growth in our population, environmental scientists will be the individuals we look to as the relationship between man and nature grows more and more precarious and combative.

Today, more than ever, environmental scientists are needed to interpret, analyze, and enforce the guidelines of governmental policies. With the growing concern for the environment, and the new focus on the green-collar industry, the number of jobs for environmental scientists is expected to grow over the next decade.

Environmental Science Jobs

Environmental Scientists

Environmental scientists work for governments (local, state, and federal), companies in the science and technology fields, as well as companies in the energy fields (especially the growing companies in the green energy industry).

Environmental scientists use their education, which could include various earth and life sciences, to protect the earthís natural resources.

Environmental scientists research and remedy the many problems faced by our environment. Environmental scientists are also involved in enacting and implementing laws to protect the environment. Individuals in the environmental science field combine their knowledge of environmental science with other sciences. Environmental chemists find out if different chemicals hurt the environment. Environmental biologists focus on protecting animals and plants.

Environmental Scientists earn an average of $40,000 and $70,000, with some professionals earning close to six figures, depending on field and experience. A career in the environmental sciences can be a rewarding, lifelong occupation. As is the case with scientists in many diverse fields, you have the opportunity to devote your professional life to a discipline you love. And, in the case of environmental science, you have the privilege to see the environment flourish as a result of your hard work and dedication.

Some positions in various fields are as follows:

Freshwater Scientist

A Freshwater Scientist supports a wide range of conservation actions. Freshwater scientists are dedicated to the conservation of freshwater ecosystems. They study and research the impact of pollution, land use, and other causes of freshwater contamination and degradation, as well as the duties of taking water samples, surveying wildlife, and working with local and state authorities.

Wetlands Scientist

This profession is dedicated to wetlands restoration and conservation. Wetlands Scientists study and research how wetlands function and how to protect them. They also study the wildlife, water quality, flood prevention and shoreline protection. Along with this, Wetlands scientists work with communities to educate citizens on the negative effects of recreational activities.

Restoration Ecologist

Like a Wetlands Scientist, a Restoration Ecologist provides research and analysis for restoration of riparian (riverbank, shoreline) and aquatic habitats. A restoration ecologist also works with government entities on issues of building, permitting, and the use of natural bodies of water and the wilderness. It is also the duty of a restoration ecologist to monitor local wildlife and flower and plant species.

Forest Scientist

Forest Science focuses on managing forests to produce various products and benefits, including timber, wildlife habitat, clean water, biodiversity, and recreation. There are many sub-specialties within the field, including Forest Conservation, Forest Management, Urban Forestry, Wilderness Management, and more. The field strives for a balance between the demand for forest resources and the protection of wildlife, water quality, and scenic and recreational use.

Natural Resource Scientist

Natural resource scientists work with federal and state agencies to develop resource management and restoration plans. Many projects deal with habitat restoration, natural resource mitigation, observation and restoration of rivers and streams, and overall environmental protection.

Resources

  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service
  • The Groundwater Foundation
  • The Water Environment Federation (WEF)
  • EcoNet
  • World Forest Investment Inc.