Environmental Studies/Sciences

Environmental Studies/Science

Environmental Remediation/Compliance

  • Ground water
  • Surface water
  • Soils
  • Air
  • Sediments:
    • Remediation
    • Liability
    • Audit
    • Compliance
    • Sustainability


  • Federal government:
    • Army Corps of Engineers
    • Department of Interior: Bureau of Reclamation, Office of Surface Mining, Bureau of Land Management
    • Department of Agriculture
    • Natural Resource Conservation Service
    • Environmental Protection Agency
    • Department of Defense
  • Agricultural consulting firms
  • Environmental consulting firms


  • Gain experience through internships, volunteer or other part-time positions with government or private remediation projects.
  • Develop excellent communication skills, both oral and written, as well as the ability to work as part of a team.
  • Conduct regulatory research regarding environmental issues in area of interest.
  • Plan to travel to worksites.
  • Seek experience with data management, analysis and tools used for remediation (e.g., GIS, CADD, and regulatory/compliance software).
  • OSHA HAZWOPER training may be required for some positions.

Waste Management

  • Risk assessment
  • Quality control
  • Logistics
  • Industrial hygiene
  • Planning
  • Recycling
  • Transportation
  • Compliance
  • Environmental engineering
  • Public and environmental health


  • Federal, state, and local government:
    • Environmental Protection Agency
    • Department of Energy
    • City/county waste management departments
    • Recycling centers
  • Private waste management firms
  • Consulting firms
  • Nonprofit organizations


  • Pursue experience through volunteer, paid, and intern positions related to waste management.
  • Seek opportunities to hone communication skills, both written and oral.  Take courses in technical writing.
  • Develop decision-making and problem-solving skills, diplomacy and the ability to work under pressure.
  • Demonstrate flexibility and willingness to look at issues from various perspectives.
  • Gain familiarity with current technologies, regulations and statutes.
  • Join community groups or service organizations that focus on environmental awareness; attend public meetings about waste management.
  • Become familiar with Superfund and its programs.  Learn about the activities of local chapters of citizen watch groups.

Soil Science

  • Soil and water conservation
  • Land use planning
  • Waste disposal
  • Environmental compliance
  • Reclamation of contaminated lands
  • Landfill operation and monitoring
  • Agrichemical management
  • Fertilizer technology
  • Agricultural production:
    • Food and fiber
  • Research
  • Education


  • Federal government:
    • Environmental Protection Agency
    • Natural Resource Conservation Service
    • Department of Agriculture
    • Department of Health and Human Services
  • State farm bureaus
  • Environmental research laboratories
  • Agricultural or environmental consultant firms
  • Privately owned farms and ranches
  • Universities


  • Develop acute observational skills.
  • Seek related experience through co-ops, internships or part-time jobs in area of interest.
  • Gain extensive laboratory and research experience to prepare for research positions.
  • Stay abreast of current environmental issues: policy, conservation and industry trends.
  • Seek knowledge of technology used in natural resource management: software, geographical information systems and global positioning systems.
  • Participate in related clubs, organizations and soil judging teams to build contacts and cultivate academic interests.
  • Learn about certification programs offered by the Soil Science Society of America including soil science and agronomy.

Air/Water Quality Management

  • Testing/Analysis
  • Watershed management
  • Stream restoration
  • Sustainable infrastructure
  • Risk assessment
  • Project development
  • Compliance
  • Permitting
  • Modeling


  • Federal, state, and local government:
    • Environmental Protection Agency
    • Natural Resource Conservation Service
    • Fish and Wildlife Service
    • Department of Agriculture
  • Public works departments
  • Geological survey
  • Consulting firms
  • Private laboratories
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Water treatment plants
  • Consumer products manufacturers


  • Develop strong research skills through coursework with laboratory components, by assisting faculty with research projects or through related internships and jobs.
  • Seek experience in student and community organizations related to the environment such as those focused on water resources, pollution or conservation.
  • Stay up-to-date with local and federal regulatory agencies and laws pertaining to your specialty.
  • Develop strong oral communication and technical writing skills, as well as the ability to collaborate in a team environment.
  • Learn to use the tools and software associated with watershed modeling or air dispersion modeling
  • Investigate certification programs offered by the American Institute of Hydrology.
  • Be willing to work and travel to various client sites.

Planning and Conservation

  • Natural resource management: land, soil, water, plants, animals
  • Sustainability management
  • Water resources
  • Aviation planning
  • Transportation planning
  • Building/Zoning
  • Land acquisition
  • Land use
  • Recreation management
  • Park/Preserve management
  • Mining
  • Construction
  • Renewable energy


  • Federal, state, and local government:
    • Environmental Protection Agency
    • Natural Resource Conservation Service
    • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
    • Fish and Wildlife Service
    • National Park Service
    • Department of Agriculture
    • Real estate development companies
    • Department of Transportation
    • Public works departments
    • Planning departments
  • Utilities companies
  • Forestry companies
  • Wildlife ranges
  • Indian nations
  • Mining companies (e.g., petroleum, mineral)
  • Market research companies
  • Colleges and universities
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Land trust organizations: The Nature Conservancy or Trust for Public Land
  • Zoological parks
  • Hunting and fishing clubs
  • Consulting firms


  • Obtain experience through volunteer positions such as Student Conservation Association, and seek leadership positions.
  • Seek research experience with professors, through coursework or through internships in the industry.
  • Develop knowledge of land and water policies, ecology and conservation history.  Real estate experience may be beneficial for some positions.
  • Participate on planning boards, commissions and committees to stay abreast of local planning and conservation initiatives.
  • Hone communication and negotiation skills for interacting with various stakeholders: land owners, elected officials, and conservation and community representatives.

Environmental Education and Communication


  • Elementary
  • Secondary
  • Post-secondary
  • Non-classroom education
  • Technical writing
  • Editing
  • Illustrating
  • Photography
  • Public relations


  • Public and private schools, K-12
  • Two-year community colleges/technical institutes
  • Four-year colleges and universities
  • Museums
  • Zoos
  • Nature centers and parks
  • Publishing companies:
    • Scientific magazines
    • Professional journals
    • Periodicals
    • Textbooks
    • Online publishers
  • Educational and scientific software companies
  • Environmental organizations
  • Government agencies
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Newspapers


  • Gain experience working with students through tutoring, part-time employment or volunteering.
  • Learn to work well with people of varying backgrounds and skills.
  • Develop excellent interpersonal, communication and content area knowledge.
  • Complete a teacher preparation program for K-12 positions, which varies by state.  Learn about the endorsements for environmental science.
  • Master’s degrees may be sufficient for teaching at community or two-year institutions.
  • Seek Ph.D. for teaching opportunities at colleges and universities.
  • Join professional associations and environmental groups as way to learn about the field and network.
  • Acquire thorough knowledge of photographic procedures and technology.
  • Take advanced courses in technical writing or journalism classes or consider a minor in either.
  • Join professional associations like the National Association of Science Writers or the Public Relations Student Society of America.
  • Seek related volunteer or paid experiences with student/local publications to increase marketability.
  • Consider earning an advanced degree in a communications field to specialize (e.g., scientific journalism or public relations).

Environmental Law

  • Political action/Lobbying
  • Regulatory Affairs
  • Science Policy
  • Patent Law
  • Non-profit or public interest
  • Environmental law
  • Mediation


  • Federal and state government:
    • Environmental Protection Agency
    • Department of Justice
    • Attorney General Offices
  • Political action committees
  • Nonprofit organizations (e.g., Green Action and Natural Resources Defense Council)
  • Law firms
  • Large corporations


  • Develop strong research and writing skills.  Hone communication skills through public speaking courses, debate team or Toast Masters, a public speaking organization.
  • Participate in pre-law honor societies and seek guidance from campus pre-law advisors.
  • Maintain current knowledge of industry trends, laws and, policies specific to area of interest (e.g., conservation, regulation compliance, etc).
  • Take courses in history, political science and/or legal studies to supplement science curriculum.
  • Learn about the law school admissions process, maintain a high GPA and plan to perform well on the LSAT.  Research schools with concentrations of interest (e.g., environmental law and policy, conservation, sustainable development).

General Information

  • Environmental studies and environmental science differ from each other in the amount of science course work required.
  • Environmental studies provides a broad base of hard sciences as well as social science coursework.  Environmental science incorporates hard sciences and environmental sciences.
  • Choice depends upon career focus, for example, administration or policy-making versus technical areas or research.
  • Pursue volunteer or internship experience to test fields of interest and gain valuable experience. Take independent research classes if possible.
  • Stay up-to-date with changing environmental legislation by reading related literature and journals and participating in professional associations.
  • Attend seminars, conferences and workshops sponsored by professional associations or public interest groups and utilize networking opportunities.
  • Learn local, state and federal government job application procedures. Utilize your campus career center staff for assistance.
  • A bachelor’s degree will qualify one for work as a laboratory assistant, technician, technologist or research assistant in education, industry and government.
  • A bachelor’s degree is also sufficient for nontechnical work in writing, illustration, sales, photography, and legislation.
  • A master’s degrees allow for greater specialization in a field and more opportunities in research and administration.  Some community colleges will hire Master’s level teachers.
  • Doctoral degrees are necessary for advanced research and administrative positions, university teaching and independent research.

Professional Associations

Occupational Outlook

Related Resources

Employment Opportunities