What Is Environmental Science?

Environmental science seeks to understand and protect our environment. It encompasses many disciplines, like biology, chemistry, geology, physics and computer science. Read on for an overview of environmental science job options, responsibilities, degree programs and the career outlook. Schools offering Wildlife & Forestry Conservation degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Environmental Science Overview

Environmental science is a multidisciplinary field that explores the dynamics between Earth systems, flora, fauna and humans. It involves research on air, water, soil, food and wildlife to understand system processes, identify environmental damage or hazards and develop solutions to environmental concerns. Environmental scientists may work as environmental consultants, horticulturists, ecologists, hydrologists, park rangers and conservation planners.

Environmental scientists commonly work for private businesses and governmental organizations, though they also work for public organizations. They often split their time between collecting samples and monitoring conditions in the field, analyzing data in the lab and writing reports in the office.

Environmental Science Education

Environmental science degree programs are available from the associate's through doctoral degree levels. Some associate's degrees in environmental science may be technology-focused and designed to prepare graduates for employment, or they may be transfer degree programs. Associate's degree programs include those in energy management and climate policy, biodiversity and environmental stewardship.

Several environmental science bachelor's degree programs are available. Coursework may cover environmental policy, environmental justice, sustainability, environmental chemistry, ecology, biogeochemistry and environmental law, among other topics. Schools may offer specializations in areas such as toxicology, natural resource management and environmental education.

Students who are interested in pursuing research may earn a master's or PhD degree in environmental science. Practical field work and an internship may be part of the graduation requirements, along with a thesis or dissertation. Graduates may be able to find research positions with major organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation. Popular advanced professional degrees in environmental science include the Master of Public Health and Doctor of Public Health degrees in environmental health sciences.

Employment Information

Education in environmental science can lead to many different careers in research and public policy. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for environmental science technicians and for environmental scientists is expected to increase due to high demand to resolve environmental concerns and stricter environmental laws and policies.

The job growth is predicted to be 19% for environmental science and protection technicians and 15% for environmental scientists and specialists from 2012-2022. Also listed by the BLS, the 2013 median salary for environmental technicians was $41,700, and for environmental scientists, it was $65,090.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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