If you don’t believe in global warming, you probably won’t be looking for a job in climate change. But if you are one of the 63% of Americans who do, the job market in this field is heating up.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the “Employment of environmental scientists and specialists is projected to grow 15 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. Heightened public interest in the hazards facing the environment, as well as the increasing demands placed on the environment by population growth, is expected to spur demand for environmental scientists and specialists.”
The University of California San Diego offers a minor in environmental studies, offering students “from every major a basic grounding in the scientific, technical, social, and cultural issues presented by the interaction of human beings with their environment and the need to build a more environmentally sustainable future.”
Stacy Barnes, 28, of Escondido is getting her master’s in environmental sciences for many reasons, only one being a paycheck.
“I plan on becoming a scientist so I can find out how to slow global warming, because at this point I am not sure we can stop it,” she said. “I love being an environmentalist and I hope to be able to help keep the earth the way it is for my children and generations to come.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics describes this career as conducting research or performing investigation for the purpose of identifying, abating, or eliminating sources of pollutants or hazards that affect either the environment or the health of the population. Using knowledge of various scientific disciplines, may collect, synthesize, study, report, and recommend action based on data derived from measurements or observations of air, food, soil, water, and other sources.
So it’s a pretty big deal of a job, and it pays from $65,000 to $120,000 a year.
“I want to make good money considering all the loans I’ve taken out,” Barnes said. “But this is something that I’ve cared about since I was a little girl. I want to stop the destruction we’ve already caused to the earth. If I can make a good living from it than that’s even better.”
Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia have the highest rate of pay for environmental scientists, and San Diego pays in the median range at about $78,000 a year.
Climatology is another environmental career that is concerned with how the climate affects everything from crops to construction.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that about one-third of the nation’s approximately 9,600 atmospheric scientists worked for the federal government. However, demand is expected to be greater in the private sector through 2020, as more companies seek detailed weather information to increase the efficiency of their operations the Bureau noted. Employment prospects should be more robust for candidates with a graduate degree.
In 2011, the median annual wage for atmospheric scientists was $89,790, with the top 10% earning more than $136,000, the Bureau reported. Those salaries represented increases of approximately $2,000 and $4,000, respectively, over the previous year.
Many of these jobs take place in a lab as well as in the field, but if you don’t see a PhD in your future there is another way to help Mother Earth as well as your bank account.
Eco-tourism is a career as eclectic as the species of trees in the Amazon. Eco-tour guides take like-minded tourists on adventures. Many of these tours are intended to raise awareness about threatened species as well as providing fun vacations. If you’re not a hiker but still want to plan these types of tours, many jobs include office and administrative positions as well as tour planners to organize excursions at travel destinations. Promoters advertise and market conservation tours. Eco-travel agents book trips for travelers. Website designers work with eco-travel agencies to build an online presence that promotes resort opportunities and the benefits of eco-tourism.
“I know a lot of people my age who want to go into environmental fields, and I think it’s because we were taught to give back,” Barnes said. “Older people think my generation doesn’t care about anything at all, but clearly they are wrong.”