Many take for granted the safety of the air we breathe and the water we drink. But issues such as the lead pipe problems in Michigan and the persistent smog in Beijing demonstrate that much work can still be done to improve conditions in the U.S and around the world. Air and water safety are no accident: they are the result of individuals working in the field of environmental science.
Those who wish to start a career in the field of environmental science should first consider pursuing a degree program in the subject, alternately called environmental science, environmental studies or environmental management, to name a few. Earning a degree in this field can be an important step in preparing oneself to develop, propose and implement solutions to clean our environment and reduce negative impacts on our natural resources.
While many schools may offer degree programs in environmental science or environmental studies, how can students identify which program might be best for them? In order to help with this dilemma, we collected data from the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and utilized a custom methodology to ascertain the ten best schools for environmental science in the United States. Details on our methodology can be found at the bottom of this page.
In order to prepare for jobs in this field, online colleges for environmental science often offer a rigorous curriculum designed to foster scientific expertise and strong skills. This section explores possible courses students may take and the skills they should hone in preparation for a career in understanding and improving the environment.
Online education for environmental science is designed to prepare students for using scientific principles in real-world situations. In order for students to acquire the theoretical foundation they need to solve problems, they may be required to take some of the courses below.
Online colleges for environmental science have many specialized skills they wish to impart in order to help prepare students for the workplace. The following are some of the skills graduates should pay attention to refining as they complete their degree programs.
Workers in the environmental science field who want to demonstrate their expertise in order to impress potential employers, become eligible for promotions or negotiate a raise might want to consider earning a professional certification. The following are a few of the designations available.
The world of environmental science offers numerous career options, and the increasing interest in protecting our environment is causing those options to expand. Here are a few of the opportunities available in this growing field.
A university professor broadens the minds and experiences of students. A scientist broadens the breadth and understanding of a particular field. An environmental science professor weaves these two goals together: in addition to plotting lesson plans and conducting research, these professionals might take their students into the field for hands-on study, work closely with students on conducting research, or serve as a mentor to those who plan to create a career in the environmental science field.
In most cases, post-secondary teachers must hold a PhD in their field. Those seeking the best options for environmental science professor careers should also have a strong background of research and study in the field, including published works.
Also known as environmental scientists or specialists, environmental analysts examine a variety of natural elements, such as water, air and soil, to determine what steps might need to be necessary to protect the environment and human health. Duties might include taking samples of soil, food, water, air, and the like; analyzing the results of a variety of tests run on the samples; determining the best ways to clean or preserve a given area; and securing proper funding, workable plans and alerts for public health, if necessary.
Environmental analyst careers can take many forms. They might work as climate change analysts, industrial ecologists, environmental chemists and much more. A bachelor's degree in a natural science is the minimum requirement; many employers prefer to hire those who hold a master's degree or higher.
When seeking out and extracting natural resources, scientists and engineers rely on the help of geological and petroleum technicians. These technicians maintain equipment, collect samples and conduct tests on them, create data reports and maps, monitor wells and document activities.
Some work in the field, where their hands-on expertise helps them collect the proper geological data. Others work in the laboratory, where they analyze samples and report their findings. Those who work in laboratories usually stick to a daily schedule, but those in the field might work long hours, sometimes in very remote areas.
An associate degree or two years of post-secondary training is required for entry-level work in the field. Some employers seek out those who hold a bachelor's degree in a science-related field.
Forest and conservation technician careers all focus on one important thing: the health and quality of forests across the world. From overseeing forestry and conservation activities and ensuring they are carried out in the best way possible, to negotiating plans and contracts with governments and landowners so forest lands can be harvested and regrown safely, a forest and conservation technician works hands-on with the natural world. There are even options for those with a fire science background, as forest fire is a serious concern in most wilderness areas.
A bachelor's degree is usually required for forest and conservation technician careers, and a degree from a program that has been accredited by the Society of American Foresters or another similar organization is recommended.
For an individual who is intrigued by numbers and budgets but also cares about the future of our planet, the ever-changing economics of the environment may be the ideal field. Environmental economist careers typically require a keen understanding of the Earth's natural resources and the costs of utilizing these energy sources. With this knowledge, environmental economists estimate the costs of managing any end waste products, and strive to devise the best, most efficient way to handle the needs of our civilization and the situations that can result from those needs. They may assess the financial benefits of using alternate energy sources or implementing alternative energy programs; these may include renewable resources, such as solar power or geothermal energy. Additionally, their insight may be important to developing new policies or improving old ones. Many environmental economists have doctoral degrees, although others entered the field with a master's-level education.