Love the Earth? Consider One of These Environmental Careers

Find a Green Job

Environmental engineer on a windfarm
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Do you care intensely about the environment? You can have a career that takes that passion into account. People who work in environmental careers protect the earth from further damage or work to repair that which has already occurred.

All you have to do is figure out which of these environmental jobs—also known as green jobs—is the right career for you. Then you have to get the required education and training to make it happen.

These occupations require degrees ranging from an associate to a master's. Each one pays well, and all but one have at least good job outlooks over the next several years.

Agricultural Engineer

Agricultural engineers design farm machinery, equipment, sensors, processes, and structures. They improve the processing of agricultural products and develop ways to conserve soil and water.

You will need to earn a bachelor's degree in engineering with a concentration in agricultural engineering to work in this occupation. If you are going to work directly with the public, you will also have to become licensed as a Professional Engineer.

Agricultural engineers earned a median annual salary of $73,640 in 2016. This may not be your best option as the job outlook is expected to be poor over the next few years. Employment will grow more slowly than the average for all occupations.

Learn More About Becoming an Agricultural Engineer

Conservation Scientist

Conservation scientists find ways to utilize land while protecting the natural resources on it. They work with landowners and governments.

You need at least a bachelor's degree in ecology, natural resource management, agriculture, biology, or environmental science to work in this occupation.

Eventually, you may want to get a master's or doctorate.

In 2016, conservation scientists' median annual earnings were $61,810. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts employment will grow as fast as the average for all occupations through 2024.
Learn More About Becoming a Conservation Scientist

Environmental Engineer

Environmental engineers use engineering principles and their knowledge of biology, soil science, and chemistry to solve environmental problems. Their expertise is with pollution control, recycling, and public health issues.  

To work in this field, you usually need a bachelor's degree in environmental engineering. You will also have to get a professional engineering license if you provide services to the public.

Environmental engineers earned a median annual salary of $84,890 in 2016. This occupation is a good choice if you are looking for a job that will have many opportunities in the future. Employment is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2024.
Learn More About Becoming an Environmental Engineer

Environmental Scientist

Environmental scientists' goal is to identify, abate, or eliminate pollutants and hazards to the environment or the health of the population.

They conduct research that will help them in this endeavor.

You can get an entry-level job with a bachelor's degree, but you will have to continue your education to make yourself a more desirable job candidate for advanced positions. Most employers prefer to hire job candidates who have a master's degree in environmental science, hydrology, or a related natural science.

Environmental scientists earned a median annual salary of $68,910 in 2016. Job opportunities are expected to be excellent. The BLS predicts employment will grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2024.
Learn More About Becoming an Environmental Scientist

Environmental Technician

Environmental technicians perform laboratory and field tests to monitor the environment and look for sources of pollution. They are supervised by environmental scientists.

Most jobs require an associate degree or certificate in applied science or science-related technology. You will need only a high school diploma for some jobs and a bachelor's degree for others.

In 2016, environmental technicians earned a median annual salary of $44,190. Prospects in this field through at least 2024 are very good, with employment expected to rise faster than the average for all occupations.
Learn More About Becoming an Environmental Technician

Geoscientist

Geoscientists study the earth's composition, structure, and other physical aspects. Some help environmental scientists clean up and preserve the environment.

To work in this occupation, you will need a master's degree. You must take coursework in geology, but your degree can be in physics, biology, engineering, chemistry, computer science, or mathematics.

Geoscientists earned a median annual salary of $89,780 in 2016. The BLS predicts employment growth that is faster than the average for all occupations through 2024.
Learn More About Becoming a Geoscientist

Hydrologist

Hydrologists are concerned with underground and surface waters. They help environmental and other scientists preserve and clean up the environment, as well as search for groundwater.

You must have a master's degree in geoscience, environmental science, or engineering with a concentration in hydrology or water sciences to work as a hydrologist, if you want more than an entry-level position.

Hydrologists earned a median annual salary of $80,480 in 2016. Employment will grow as fast as the average for all occupations through 2024.
Learn More About Becoming a Hydrologist

Landscape Architect

Landscape architects design outdoor areas, for example, residences, parks, shopping centers, school campuses, golf courses, and parkways, to make them beautiful, functional, and compatible with the natural environment.

To practice this occupation, you will need a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) or a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture (BSLA). You can also earn a Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) degree, even if you don't have a BLA or BSLA.

Landscape architects earned a median annual salary of $63,480 in 2016. Employment, according to the BLS, will grow as fast as the average for all occupations through 2024.
Learn More About Becoming a Landscape Architect

Urban or Regional Planner

Urban or regional planners help local governments decide how to best use their land and resources. They develop plans and programs after meeting with government officials, the public, and developers.

To work as an urban or regional planner, you must have a master's degree in urban or regional planning from an accredited program. Your bachelor's degree can be in a variety of majors, but studying economics, geography, political science, or environmental design at the undergraduate level can be very good preparation for your graduate studies.

People who work in this field earned a median annual salary of $70,020 in 2016. The BLS expects employment to grow as fast as the average for all occupations through 2024.
Learn More About Becoming an Urban and Regional Planner

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/ and Employment and Training Administration, US Department of Labor, O*NET Online, on the Internet at https://www.onetonline.org/ (visited May 4, 2016).

Explore more Careers By Field or Industry

 

Comparing Green Jobs
 Required EducationLicenseMedian Salary (2016)
Agricultural Engineer Bachelor'sRequired to work with the public$73,640
Conservation Scientist Bachelor'snone$61,810
Environmental Engineer Bachelor'sRequired to work with the public$84,890
Environmental Scientist Master'snone$68,910
Environmental Technician Associatenone$44,190
Geoscientist Master'sRequired to work with the public in some states$89,780
Hydrologist Master'sRequired in some states$80,480
Landscape ArchitectBachelor'sRequired in almost all states$63,480
Urban or Regional PlannerMaster'snone$70,020

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