Education and Training: Bachelor’s degree in biology, environmental science, entomology, or chemistry
Average Salary: $59,750 per year
Job Outlook: Good
A majority of the environmentalists work as environmental volunteers, scientists, or lobbyists. The duties of an environmentalist can vary widely depending on the area of specialization. Most environmental careers involve some sort of research in areas such as habitats and natural resources, ecosystem management, and others. Many environmentalists may also be required to submit research proposals and obtain grants.
As environmental scientists, environmentalists make use of science to find solutions and identify issues that minimize the impact of humans on the Earth. For instance, environmental scientists may have to test the quality of water in sources that lie near a manufacturing plant or identify sources of pollution in groundwater. Preparing risk assessments on the potential impact on ecosystems by construction sites also comes under their role. They may also have to write technical proposals and prepare and give presentations to policymakers based on their research. As environmental lobbyists, environmentalists can help prepare green policy for the government, non profit agencies, and companies. They may persuade higher officials in the government departments to pass green regulations or laws for a better environment. They will engage in green awareness campaigning and training and may also help with fund raising for the organization.
Education and Training Requirements
Those who are interested in becoming environmentalists must preferably have a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. Environmental scientists must mostly major in biology, chemistry, entomology, botany, environmental science, agriculture, urban planning, and related subjects. Students who hope to become environmental lobbyists can also choose subjects such as environmental science, political science, and social sciences as majors. However students who have completed any four-year degree can gain employment in the entry-level positions in this field.
Getting the Job
If you are keen to work as an environmentalist, education alone is not sufficient. You must also get lots of exposure on the job. This can be achieved through internships. Most internships are a part of an undergraduate or master’s degree program. You can complete your environmental studies and take up a job only on the satisfactory completion of the internship.
Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development
The number of career opportunities for environmentalists is expected to increase by leaps and bounds in the future. This trend is owing to the new consulting opportunities and increased environmental research options available both at the federal and the local level. The need for environmental scientists will also exist in areas such as assessment of natural resource and habitat issues.
Many environmental scientists find employment in federal institutions such as the EPA. They are also hired by the private companies to work on green policy formation. Some environmentalists find jobs in colleges and universities and may also conduct green research. Environmental lobbyists are also hired by environment advocacy groups to launch “Go Green” campaigns.
The responsibilities of environmentalists are varied. They help corporations, government, as well as the public to make informed decisions regarding the use of natural resources. Depending on the career specialty chosen, their duties and responsibilities may vary widely. Environmentalists work for several groups including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), non-profit organizations, and private corporations.
Working Conditions and Environment
The role of an environmentalist can be both challenging and rewarding. The work of an environmentalist is not confined to only indoors. Each and every environmentalist tries to make the world a better place through campaigns and research works. They also have to step outside their workplace and try to educate others about the importance of green issues and how it can make a huge difference in the lives of everyone. Environmentalists may also associate themselves with local and international programs such as Friends of Nature, Greenpeace, and Worldchanging. A wide range of eco-projects may also be initiated in their communities such as park clean ups, farmers’ markets, and recycling drives while front ending efforts to back future green efforts.
Salary and Benefits
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual earnings of environmentalists was $51,080 in 2004. Those who worked as hydrologists earned almost $61,510. While those who worked for state and local government earned between $46,850 and $48,870, those in federal employment earned $73,530.
Where to Go for More Information
Florida State University
425 W Jefferson St.
Tallahassee, FL 32306-1601
University of California, Berkeley
87 Soda Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-1776