If you’re passionate about science, environmental issues, and the impact human activity has on animal species, this section is for you.
Here you will find useful information about careers in environmental science, environmental engineering, wind turbine technology, and more.
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Job descriptions for environmental workers vary depending on their field of expertise and place of employment.
For example, environmental scientists and specialists are responsible for:
- Determining data collection methods for research projects
- Collecting and compiling data
- Analyzing samples and other information
- Developing plans to prevent or fix environmental problems
- Providing information and guidance to business and government officials
- Preparing technical reports.
Wildlife biologists are responsible for:
- Developing and conducting experimental studies regarding animals in controlled environments
- Collecting biological data and specimens
- Studying characteristics of animals
- Analyzing the influence of human activity on wildlife
- Researching and improving breeding programs that support healthy game animals, endangered species, or other animal populations
- Developing and implementing programs to reduce risks to human activities from wildlife and invasive species
- Writing research papers
- Developing conservation plans
Some wildlife biologists and zoologists are specialized in a specific species.
For example, those who study wild fish are called ichthyologists while those who study birds are called ornithologists.
For certain projects, biologists may team up with environmental scientists and other environmental workers.
Environmental scientists are also needed to assess the risks that new construction projects pose on the environment or when lands and waters have been contaminated by pollution.
Some environmental workers are hired by local or state governments, while others work for private companies.
For example, most fish and game wardens work for state governments.
The biggest employer for environmental scientists and specialists were companies that provide consulting services, which employed about one-quarter of all workers in these occupations.
Approximately 24 percent of these workers were employed by state governments and 12 percent worked for local governments.
Many environmental engineers worked for providers of engineering services or consulting companies.
The third-biggest employer for environmental engineers were state governments, which hired approximately 13 percent of all environmental engineers.
This section also includes wind turbine technicians- who work mostly in the field of electric power generation or repair and maintenance.
Many environmental careers require working on your feet, and in some cases, you may have to carry and set up testing equipment.
Depending on the work they do, environment workers may need to wear protective equipment, such as hardhats, coveralls, and masks to protect them from the dangers associated with this profession.
Most workers in this sector work full time and they may need to travel to clients’ locations.
Environmental specialists who work for the government ensure that environmental regulations are followed.
Most environmental careers require a bachelor’s degree in natural science, environmental engineering, or a related field.
However, some careers can be started with an associate’s degree or diploma.
You can become a fish or game warden, for example, with an associate’s degree in biology, wildlife, or a similar track from an accredited university.
This degree can be earned after two years of post-secondary education.
Two years of post-secondary training are usually required for a position as a wind turbine technician.
Conservation scientists and foresters need a bachelor’s degree in forestry or a related field, which requires around four years of post-secondary training.
Undergraduate programs typically cover topics such as ecology, biology, and forest resource management.
Most of the time, the curriculum also covers forms of computer modeling such as Geographic Information System technology and remote sensing.
One of the most in-demand professions in this sector is wind turbine tech.
This trade can be learned through a technical school and on-the-job training.
The curriculum usually covers topics such as:
- Rescue, safety, first aid, CPR
- Electrical maintenance
- Hydraulic maintenance
- Braking systems
- Mechanical systems
- Computers and logic control systems
Most employers offer a 12-month training period to their newly hired wind techs, training that focuses on the specific wind turbine they service.
Two years of post-secondary education are also required for environmental science and protection technicians, but some employers may require a bachelor’s degree.
Besides formal education, some special skills are required in this line of work.
For example, fish and game wardens need physical strength, the ability to spend many hours outdoors, as well as good vision and hearing.
Licenses and Certifications
Although licensing is not mandatory for most environmental occupations, professional certification can prove the worker’s skills to potential employers.
For wind techs, certifications in workplace electrical safety, tower climbing, and self-rescue can prove very useful.
Although licensure is not required for entry-level environmental engineering positions, earning a Professional Engineering license can bring more independence and leadership.
The licensing requirements for environmental engineers vary by state, but they usually include:
- A degree from an accredited engineering program
- A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering exam
- Relevant work experience of at least four years
- A passing score on the Professional Engineering exam
Certifications are also available for environmental scientists, who can become Certified Hazardous Materials Managers.
This credential is offered through the Institute of Hazardous Materials Management and must be renewed every 5 years.
Several levels of certifications are also available through the Ecological Society of America.
Applicants who have a Bachelor’s degree can become an Ecologist in Training, while those who also have at least one year of experience may become Associate Ecologists.
The Ecologist certification is available for applicants who have a bachelor’s degree and five years of experience and for those who have a master’s degree and at least two years of experience.
Those who have a doctoral degree can apply for a Senior Ecologist credential after gaining 5 years of experience.
This certification is also available for candidates with a bachelor’s or master’s degree and more than 10 years of work experience.
Environmental scientists and specialists reportedly made $73,230 per year, on average, with wages varying between less than $43,000 and more than $130,000, according to BLS.
The $73,230 median wage tells us that half of all workers in this profession make less than this amount while half make more.
The highest-paying field for this profession was the federal government, where the median annual wage for environmental scientists and specialists was $103,180.
Those who worked for state governments made significantly less, with the median calculated at $67,700 per year.
Higher wages were reported by environmental engineers- a profession with a median annual wage calculated at $92,120.
The median annual wage reported by foresters was $63,980 with wages varying between less than $42,500 and more than $93,060.
The median annual wage for fish and game wardens was $58,040 with salaries ranging between less than $29,880 and more than $81,960.
Wardens who are employed by state governments usually earn more than those who worked for local governments.
The median annual wage reported by wind turbine technicians was $56,230 as of May 2020 with salaries ranging between less than $40,000 and more than $80,000.
The median annual wage reported by environmental science and protection technicians was $46,850 with salaries ranging between less than $30,000 and more than $80,000.
Technicians who worked for local governments made $51,510 per year while those who worked for testing laboratories made $40,560.
As the public becomes increasingly interested in issues involving the environment, more jobs will appear for scientists, engineers, and technicians who focus on environmental issues and for specialists in environmentally-friendly power generation solutions.
Many new jobs will also appear from the need to replace workers who leave the occupation or retire.
The wind turbine technician profession will see a spectacular growth of 68 percent from 2020 to 2030, with 1,400 new openings resulting each year.
As more wind turbines are developed, wind turbine technicians will be needed to install and maintain them.
Employment for zoologists and wildlife biologists is projected to grow 5 percent from 2020 to 2030.
As the human population grows and the development continues to impact wildlife and animal habitats, zoologists and wildlife biologists will continue to be needed.
Because most funding for these professions comes from governmental agencies, employment opportunities may be limited due to budgetary constraints.
According to BLS, employment for environmental scientists and specialists is projected to grow 8 percent, with 9,800 new jobs projected for each year.
As more businesses will continue to consult with environmental specialists to minimize the impact on the environment, the demand is expected to grow for those who provide consulting services.
Additional jobs will be offered by state and local governments as well.
New jobs are also projected for environmental science and protection technicians- an occupation that will grow 11 percent by 2030, with 4,700 openings occurring in the next decade.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a degree for a career in this field?
The answer to this question depends on the career you want to pursue.
Positions as scientists and environmental engineers need at least a bachelor’s degree in natural science or environmental engineering.
However, there are also technician positions that require only an associate’s degree or two years of post-secondary education.
How much does an environmental worker make?
Salaries in this field vary widely depending on specialty, education, region, employer, and level of experience.
Environmental scientists can make anywhere between less than $50,000 and more than $130,000 per year.
Salaries for technicians vary between less than $30,000 and more than $80,000.
You can improve your earning prospects by becoming certified in your specific field of expertise.
What prospects do environmental workers have?
As people become more aware of the impact human activity has on the environment, additional jobs for specialists in environmental issues will appear.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for these professions will grow by rates that vary between 5-68 percent, depending on the specialty.
The most spectacular growth is projected for wind turbine techs, so learning how to safely install and maintain wind turbines can lead to a stable career.
What does an environmental worker do?
Job descriptions in this field vary depending on the worker’s specialty and level of training.
Some are responsible for collecting samples and designing research projects, while others install and service wind turbines.
Many workers in this sector have to do fieldwork, and they may have to travel to clients’ locations.