The University Network

12 Jobs For Environmental Science Majors

At large, environmental science majors are passionate about preserving and improving the world’s land, water and air quality. A degree in environmental science can open up many job opportunities in research, education, law and more. Oftentimes, environmental science majors end up working for universities, the government or private research institutes. While some of the jobs on this list can be achieved with solely a bachelor’s degree, many of them require further, more specialized education or training.

Here is a list of 12 possible jobs for environmental science majors:

Most Common Jobs for Environmental Science Majors

1. Environmental Scientist

In a nutshell, environmental scientists are tasked with studying, analyzing and potentially providing sustainable solutions to environmental problems, including pollution, biodiversity loss and climate change. Oftentimes, they are employed by the government, universities or research institutes. While some environmental science jobs can be earned with only a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree will open up many more prestigious employment opportunities.

Median annual wage: $69,400

Common entry-level degree: Bachelor’s/Master’s degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 3%

2. College Professor

As with many students in the sciences, many environmental science majors go on to become professors of their discipline. Patience, communication, organization and enthusiasm are some of the most important characteristics of a good college professor. To earn a job teaching at the post-secondary level, a master’s degree (and sometimes a doctorate degree), is required. In addition to teaching, some college professors also conduct research and write scholarly articles.

Median annual wage: $76,360

Common entry-level degree: Master’s degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 3%

3. High School Science Teacher

Being a high school science teacher is a common path for environmental science majors. As a teacher, you can communicate and hopefully pass down your love for science to the next generation. To become a secondary school teacher, you will need to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in the subject you want to teach, while completing your school’s teacher preparation program. You’ll then need to complete a teaching internship in your subject, take and pass your state’s teaching licensure tests, and get your teaching license.

If you are dead set on being a teacher, the best advice would be to major in education. But if you’re still uncertain about what you want to do, an environmental science degree could ultimately help you land a teaching job.

Median annual wage: $59,170

Common entry-level degree: Bachelor’s degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 1%

Specialized/Unique Jobs for Environmental Science Majors

4. Environmental Engineer

Environmental engineers might work on a wide range of projects relating to environmental health and sustainability. This could include developing new recycling programs, strategies and methods. It could also include developing renewable energy technologies and systems like dams or large-scale water filtration systems. A bachelor’s degree is necessary for entry into the field, and some employers may seek out candidates with master’s degrees. Leadership and management positions require a Professional Engineering (PE) license, which can be attained after 4 years of working in the field.

Median annual wage: $86,800

Common entry-level degree: Bachelor’s/Master’s degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 1.8%

5. Environmental Consultant

Environmental consultants work on projects with organizations offering their expertise on environmental regulations or environmental impact. Typically, they will be employed by an environmental consultancy firm, which take on contracts with commercial or government organizations. Environmental consultants may specialize in subfields like air or water pollution, waste management, natural disaster risk, or renewable energy. In order to become an environmental consultant, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree.

Median annual wage: $69,400

Common entry-level degree: Bachelor’s degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 3%

6. Forester

A career in forestry is ideal for anyone who strives to be outdoors and sighs at the thought of working at a desk all day. Foresters are primarily tasked with maintaining and preserving wilderness areas and forest habitats. They may have to engage in pest control, fire prevention, soil sampling, and more. Generally, foresters are employed by government agencies, such as national and state parks and wildlife refuges.

Median annual wage: $60,120

Common entry-level degree: Bachelor’s degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 0.8%

Non-Traditional Jobs for Environmental Science Majors

7. Environmental Reporter

If you are interested in the environment but would like to write for a living, an environmental science major can prepare you well for a career as an environmental reporter. Technically, there is no required degree to become a reporter, but you will have a hard time finding a job without one. Skilled reporters are master storytellers with strong writing and grammar skills. To learn the essential skills, most aspiring reporters study journalism in college. However, the knowledge gained through an environmental science degree will give you an advantage in reporting on the environment and sustainability efforts.

Median annual wage: $40,910

Common entry-level degree: Bachelor’s degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 11%

8. Environmental Lawyer

At large, environmental lawyers strive to uphold and lobby for laws that protect the quality of the air, water and land. They also can represent individuals and communities who may have been injured or developed an illness due to environmental conditions in a town, workplace, building or more.

However, to become an environmental lawyer, completing a bachelor’s degree program is just the first step. Aspiring lawyers will also have to pass the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), apply to law school, earn a Juris Doctor degree and pass the Bar examination — all before they can begin to practice law. Generally, it takes 3 years to graduate from law school, so the entire process takes 7-8 years. If you’re interested in earning your master’s degree in environmental science while working towards your Juris Doctor degree, some universities, such as Duquesne University and the University of Colorado Boulder, offer joint programs.

Median annual wage: $119,250

Common entry-level degree: Juris Doctor degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 4%

9. Toxicologist

Toxicologists are experts in chemicals and toxic materials, who use their expertise to research and evaluate the safety of chemical products and drugs, and identify the safety of chemical products. Toxicologists are often employed by water, pharmaceutical and chemical companies to test the safety of their own products. They may also be employed by government regulatory agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Most aspiring toxicologists major in environmental toxicology in college. However, for environmental science majors who were late to realize they want to become toxicologists, there is still hope. Some universities allow students to add a toxicology specialization or focus to their degree. Additionally, a master’s degree in toxicology would help students refine their skill set and qualify for more jobs.

Median annual wage: $82,090

Common entry-level degree: Bachelor’s degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 0.5%

Other Potential Jobs for Environmental Science Majors

10. Marine Biologist

Primarily, marine biologists are tasked with analyzing ocean life and identifying possible threats or diseases. Typical assignments could include assessing the changes in a specific fish population over time or determining the cause of an obscure algal bloom. Although most aspiring marine biologists pursue a major that is specific to animals, such as biology, zoology or ecology, an environmental science degree can serve as the base for a career in marine biology. However, to earn a job in the field, a more advanced degree may be needed.

Median annual wage: $62,290

Common entry-level degree: Bachelor’s/Master’s degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 30%

11. Climatologist

At large, climatologists study trends in climate and how it impacts people and the environment. They observe how climate has changed over time, so they can predict trends for the future and avoid potential long-lasting damage. A degree in environmental science could serve as the backbone to a climatology career; however, to earn a research position at a university or institute, further education that is specific to climatology, meteorology or atmospheric science is likely necessary.

Median annual wage: $89,790

Common entry-level degree: Master’s degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job: N/A

12. Fish and Game Warden

Fish and game wardens work in protected outdoor conservation areas, such as state and national parks and forest preserves, to protect wildlife and enforce fishing, hunting and boating laws, among others. In addition to an environmental science education, aspiring fish and game wardens should be versed in criminal justice. To earn a job as a fish and game warden, internships or apprenticeships are almost always necessary.

Median annual wage: $56,410

Common entry-level degree: Associate’s/Bachelor’s degree

Likelihood that robots will take your job: 8%

10 Famous Environmental Scientists

  1. David Brower
  2. Rachel Carson
  3. Marjory Stoneman Douglas
  4. Sylvia Earle
  5. Jane Goodall
  6. James Hansen
  7. Julia Hill
  8. Aldo Leopold
  9. John Muir
  10. Peter Newman