Careers in Environmental Science
Students in the EVS Program can expect strong demand for their expertise upon graduation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics employment of environmental scientists and specialists is expected to increase by 11% between 2014 and 2024. The BLS notes that “[h]eightened public interest in the hazards facing the environment, as well as the increasing demands placed on the environment by population growth, is projected to spur demand for environmental scientists and specialists.” As of 2016, the median annual wage for environmental scientists and specialists was $68,910.
Environmental scientists conduct research to help identify and lessen environmental hazards that affect both humans and wildlife. This research involves collecting and analyzing samples of air, food, water, and soil to determine the state of the environment. Using their skills and training, these scientists attempt to solve these problems by investigating ways to reduce or eliminate their negative effects. These jobs generally fall into three categories:
- Public Sector: Regulation/Enforcement and Resource Management/Conservation
- Private Sector: Environmental Consultants and Jobs in Industry
- Non-Profits: Academia and Non-Government Organizations
Additional environmental job search engines are listed below.
In the public sector, environmental scientists work with people at all levels of government to develop regulations and monitor compliance with environmental laws and regulations, including conservation efforts. Those who work on policy formation might help to identify ways of changing human behavior to avoid future problems, such as groundwater contamination or ozone depletion. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 44% of all environmental scientists and specialists are employed by Federal, State, and Local governments.
Federal Government Options: Employment with the Federal government can be found through a variety of departments and agencies, including:
- the Environmental Protection Agency,
- the Department of the Interior (including the U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service, U.S. Fish, and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Forest Service),
- the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and
- the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Additional general information on Environmental Scientists positions within the federal government is available through gogovernment.org, which offers examples of position and breakdowns by agency and regions. Federal positions are advertised and offered through a centralized job clearinghouse at USAjobs.gov. Actual positions within the federal government vary considerably and include Botanist; Soil Conservationists; Ecologist; Environmental Protection Specialist; Toxicologist; Fish and Wildlife Refuge Management; and Hydrologist.
Texas State Options: Jobs with the Texas State government can be found through a number of state agencies and commissions, including:
- the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality,
- the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and
- Texas A & M Agrilife Research.
Information on openings in state agencies is also available through the Texas Workforce Commission. Positions vary and can range from Environmental Specialist to Hydrologist, from Biologist to Park Ranger.
City of Austin Options: The City of Austin operates a number of entities that employ environmental scientists, notably:
All City of Austin openings are accessible through a single portal, and all have a shared (single) online application.
Environmental scientists not working in the public sector typically find work at environmental consulting firms or in-house with industry employers. Environmental consultants work in a very wide variety of field but is often a form of compliance consulting, in which the consultant ensures that the client maintains an appropriate measure of compliance with environmental regulations. Consultancies range from generalized across a wide range of disciplines or to specialized in particular environmental issues or areas. Areas of consulting range from assisting with commercial real estate transactions (where an environmental problem with real property may affect its value) to helping companies “go green” and take advantage of government funding for renewable energy and technologies. Check out Engineering News Record’s list of Top 200 Environmental Firms. Of course, environmental scientists may also consult in-house for companies in the petroleum and other industries, helping to ensure the actions of those companies are in compliance with applicable regulations.
Other environmental scientists choose to bring their skills and training to the non-profit sector (or to non-government organizations). Typically these groups engage in environmental advocacy, and they use the work of environmental scientists to help substantiate their positions. There are hundreds of these sorts of organizations, but if you don’t know where to start, check out the Natural Resources Defense Council list of prominent environmental groups. For those interested in more specific issues, lists of nonprofits focused on Conservation, Climate Change, and Ocean Management are available from a variety of sources. Environmental scientists may also choose to pursue their education, obtain a Ph.D. and conduct research and teach in academia.
- ecolog: listserv of grants, jobs, and news from the Ecological Society of America.
- Environmental Career Opportunities: Job listings in Conservation, Engineering, Higher Education, and Advocacy, along with a newsletter and notification service.
- EarthWorks Job Clearinghouse: Job lists for domestic and international positions in all aspects of the environmental sciences.
- Society for Conservation Biology Jobs Page: posts available conservation opportunities. The job board is visible to all, but Society members receive advanced notice of new positions.
- Texas A&M Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries Science Job Board: Jobs posted here are related to aquaculture, wildlife, fisheries, environment, ecology, natural resources, conservation, biological sciences, life sciences, and outdoor recreation.
- National Park Service: Part-time and full-time positions through NPS are posted via the USAJOBS.GOV database. Internship programs can also be found through the NPS website.