How to Become an Environmentalist
Environmentalist Careers & Degrees

Environmentalist is a term used to describe someone who is involved in protecting and preserving the earth’s natural resources as well as its inhabitants.

People who consider themselves an Environmentalist can work in a variety of careers and have as many job descriptions.

An Environmentalist typically has an interest in protecting natural resources, the environment and species that are under threat because of deforestation or other similar hazards.

Whatever specialty someone who wants to become an Environmentalist goes into, they can be assured that they will be busy educating others or preventing them from misusing the earth’s natural resources.

Some typical careers that someone who wants to become an Environmentalist can look into include the following jobs: Environmental Educators, Marine Conservationist, Environmental Scientist, Habitat Conservationist, Environmental Lobbyist, Fish and Game Warden, Environmental Engineer.

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Education Requirements to Become an Environmentalist

A person must know what the earth is made up of and what makes the environment susceptible to harm in order to protect it.

Most of the listed careers above all have a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree.

One exception is the position for Fish and Game Warden.

People interested in becoming a part of law enforcement and work as a Fish and Game Warden need an Associate’s Degree in biology or wildlife management as well experience in a police academy or military branch.

The rest of the career list requires a Bachelor’s in Environmental Science, Biology, Geology or other natural science track.

Students who take this track will concentrate their studies on classes such as Biology, Physics, Plant Biology, Organic Chemistry and Environmental Policies.

Students will gain perspectives on how to preserve the earth’s natural resources, prevent pollution or what methods are used to measure the depletion of the earth’s resources.

In order to become an Environmental Lobbyist, students will benefit from pursuing a law degree to have a competitive background in the field.

To have a strong background in Environmentalism, a candidate can pursue a degree in Environmental Science then enter law school.

Environmentalist Job Description

Because Environmentalist is an umbrella term for many professions, each individual job title has their own specific duties and roles.

Below are some common professions with essential job duties.

Environmental Educators are professionals that teach the public about ecological issues that affect people and other species, encourage the conservation of natural resources, promote sustainability and make people aware of the many ways they can enjoy nature.

These professionals use a variety of skills such as researching and developing educational programs in order to promote environmental awareness.

Environmental Educators can work with a range of people from young kids to college aged students and the general public.

Conservationists are scientists who teach people about the benefits of preserving the environment and show them techniques on how to use their land while still preserving it.

They can work with land or farm owners teaching them ways to make profit off their trade while still being able to protect the environment.

Environmental Scientists mainly work in a laboratory setting performing tests and monitoring environmental resources to measure contaminants and pollution levels.

After measuring and analyzing these levels, they look for solutions to help improve the environment.

Environmental Lobbyists work for organizations or interest groups and try to persuade state representatives to look into changing legal codes in order to protect the environment.

Fish and Game Wardens work for a state government under a law enforcement agency.

They patrol designated areas assuring people follow established rules and laws that are geared to help protect the environment and its inhabitants.

Fish and Game Wardens have the capability to arrest perpetrators or write citations.

Environmentalist Salary and Career Path

Because these professionals can perform their duties under many job titles, people who want to become an Environmentalist have plenty of opportunities available to them under many sectors and industries.

Income for these professionals ranges between sectors and industries but the national range for all the listed positions begins at approximately $48,000 per year to about $ 80,000 per year.

The job outlook for these types of jobs is expected to grow through 2018 due to the increase in population.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$112,540
New Hampshire$73,800
New Jersey$82,230
New Mexico$77,900
New York$84,080
North Carolina$65,380
North Dakota$66,040
Rhode Island$81,160
South Carolina$61,120
South Dakota$60,360
West Virginia$56,020
Puerto Rico$43,430
Virgin Islands$48,380

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $112,540.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

District of Columbia - $112,540
California - $92,320
Washington - $85,870
Virginia - $85,660
Colorado - $84,690
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Health, OCC Code 19-2041, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat does an environmentalist do?

An environmentalist can also be called an ‘environmental scientist’.

In a nutshell, an environmentalist is someone who helps the public and specific companies make educated choices regarding the environment.

There are quite a few different types of environmental scientists – lobbyists, researchers, computer analysts, office workers, engineers, conservationists, lab workers, inspectors, and so on.

The responsibilities of an environmentalist can vary, depending on the type.

However, the typical duties usually include providing scientific proof for new laws and regulations; preparing reports of environmentally hazardous accidents; conducting scientific research; data collection (analyzing samples of water, food, soil, and other materials from the environment), etc.

QuestionHow much do environmentalists make?

On average, an environmentalist can make a little more than $63.500 per year in the United States.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the employer, the location and so on.

The environmentalists that work in Ann Arbor, Washington DC, Columbian, and San Francisco, for example, have the highest average salaries.

Atmospheric scientists can make around $89.000 per year, while conservation scientists and foresters earn about $59.000 annually.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become an environmentalist?

In a lot of cases, you would need a bachelor’s degree in economics, political science, psychology, environmental science or a related field, in order to become an environmentalist.

A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

You can apply for entry-level positions with a bachelor’s degree; however, to increase job prospects, you would have to go for a master’s in environmentalism, public policy, environmental planning or environmental studies (over $11.000).

QuestionWhat is the demand for environmentalists?

Between 2012 and 2022, the environmentalist job market is expected to grow by 15%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That is a lot faster than the national average for all occupations in the United States (and even faster than the average for the other life, physical, and social science occupations).

Much of the growth is projected in the private sector; however, in the near future, every company will be looking for ways to decrease its impact on the environment.

QuestionHow long does it take to become an environmentalist?

It will take you 4 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree and another 2 years to earn a master’s degree.

Make sure that your degree is related to the kind of work you want to do in the future; for example, those who want to become lobbyists should go for a master’s in political science.

Aspiring environmentalists should seek seasonal and voluntary work, in order to have the opportunity to get that on-job experience; you can find an internship that lasts for one season or for a whole year.

An intern or a volunteer can be offered a full-time position in the company, so try to make the most of every opportunity.

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