What is an Environmental Career?

Are you interested in a career that helps protect and conserve the environment? You might be wondering what options are available. Environmental careers are diverse and encompass a wide variety of professions. A common theme that runs through all environmental careers is the protection and conservation of our environment. As we learn more about how human activities affect the environment, we see an increased need for professionals who help mitigate the negative effects of these activities. Environmental careers are not just those involved in working in wilderness areas or national parks. Today, you can combine your love of the environment with practically any academic discipline in any professional field. Environmental professionals can be found in science, education, policy, law, activism, journalism and many other disciplines. Furthermore, environmental protection is an important agenda for most businesses and industries. Companies look to environmental engineers and planners to reduce their impact on the environment and to help them comply with environmental protection laws.

It is a good idea to research job titles and professions that interest you. Find out the education requirements, average salary, type of employer (government, business, nonprofit, etc) and the amount of job availability. Below are examples of careers according to subjects you study in school:

English and Communications

  • Educate and inform people about environmental issues and the ways to weigh various sides of a matter to make informed and responsible decisions
  • Involve critical thinking, problem solving and effective decision-making skills
  • Motivate others to take responsible actions on environmental issues

Career Possibilities: Environmental Journalist, Community Relations Coordinator, Park Ranger, Restoration Ecologist, Marketing Specialist/Manager, Teacher, Fundraiser, Environmental Educator, Entrepreneur

Math and Engineering

  • Work to solve environmental problems through quantifiable information and knowledge
  • Involve critical thinking, analysis and problem-solving skills
  • Develop graphs, equations and tables to analyze data and explore relationships between different factors and variables

Career Possibilities: Environmental Engineer, Survey and Mapping Technician, Transportation Planner, Landscape Architect, Energy Technician/Manager, Water/Wastewater Engineer, Statistician, Business Process Designer

Science and Computer Science

  • Develop theories and hypotheses on how the world works and tests the theories through inquiry, computer modeling and experimentation
  • Plan effective conservation programs based on scientific knowledge

Career Possibilities: Geographic Information Systems Specialist, Botanist, Watershed Manager, Environmental Health Physician, Fisheries Biologist, Hydrologist, Toxicologist, Groundwater Professional, Geographer, Wildlife Biologist

Social Studies and Law

  • Understand human behavior and the ways people relate to the environment
  • Motivate and educate people on the importance of conservation
  • Know how social, economic and political activities influence environmental decision-making

Career Possibilities: Environmental Lawyer, Urban/Regional Planner, Corporate Recycling Manager, Compliance Specialist, Parks and Recreation Specialist, Policy Specialist/Manager, Natural Resource Manager, Environmental Quality Control Specialist

Career Resources

Look at this site for “cool jobs.”  www.environmentalcareer.com

EPA Youth and the Environment Training and Employment Program  www.epa.gov/owm/mab/smcomm/youth.htm

Outdoor Action Guide to Outdoor/Environmental Careers  www.princeton.edu/~oa/jobs/careeroe.html

Youth Conservation Corps  www.nps.gov/gettinginvolved/youthprograms/ycc.htm

Large selection of careers with descriptions  www.ecojobs.com/index.php

Reference: Toward a Green Future: Environmental and Conservation Career Opportunities, www.nwf.org

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