Information compiled by the GradSchools.com team - last updated November 2010
Global Warming. Solar-powered roofs. Hybrid cars. Inconvenient truths. In this heavily technology-focused world, it is more important than ever to understand our natural environment and the ways in which it works and affects our lives. In recent years, we’ve seen many prominent figures attempt to raise awareness of the various issues affecting our environment, but it remains in peril and in need of educated advocates. This is where environmental science graduate curriculums come in.
Environmental Sciences courses
Students enrolled in environmental sciences curricula will find themselves at the forefront of a field whose importance and relevance is arguably second-to-none. They strive to understand and better control the effects of the interactions between the physical, chemical and biological aspects on the environment. Those in environmental sciences courses will explore the relationship between living things and their environments, in terms of population size, weather effects, and pollution.
Masters or PhD degrees in environmental sciences may lead to work in the field itself, or to positions in universities and other institutions of learning; teaching others about the field and conducting research. Environmental studies students will find many areas in which they might specialize. Some of these environmental sciences concentrations include:
Environmental sciences curriculums, no matter what the concentration, cover such study fields as the natural sciences, engineering, social science, economics, and law. The aim is to conserve natural and urban environments, as well as to promote biodiversity and sustainability. To reach these goals, students will take environmental sciences courses on topics such as environmental law and policy, risk management and waste management.
Students will take a breadth of courses within the physical and earth sciences such as atmospheric science, ecology, environmental chemistry, geosciences, and environmental assessment. They will study the quality of water, air and soil, as well as collect and analyze environmental data. Environmental sciences courses help prepare students to define and solve the problems that threaten the environment, as well as to preserve animals, plants and ecosystems.
Those pursuing a Masters or PhD degree in environmental sciences research alternate sources of energy, particularly renewable energy sources, and hope to arrange a way in which humans and the environment can coexist more effectively. They also seek to help endangered species and to better deal with pollution and climate change.
Many people studying in environmental sciences curricula have done so because they have felt strongly about something they have learned through the course of their studies. Students will find a number of environmental sciences career paths, specialties, businesses and organizations, due to the broad spectrum of topics covered by the field.
Careers in Environmental Sciences
As with most fields in which there are many career options available, generalizing the amount of money one can make in environmental sciences careers across the board is difficult. Top-level science jobs for a biotech company would obviously pay much more than would a position for a researcher at a nonprofit environmental organization. But competition is growing due to heightened interest in the field. While those with college degrees can still find positions, a graduate degree is quickly becoming standard for the field.
Those with a Masters or PhD degree in environmental sciences will use their mathematics, computer, analytical, writing and research skills to enter careers in education, business, consulting, government, health care, industry and research. The salary of an environmental scientist varies depending upon the employer. Environmental scientists working for the federal government can make an average annual salary of $82,000, while those working for local and state governments can make about $52,000 and $51,000 respectively.
A career as an environmental engineering consultant can command an average salary of $52,000 each year, while conservation scientists can earn about $54,000 annually. Environmental engineers can make an average annual salary of $60,000, and environmental project managers can take home about $62,000. A career as a project management environmental consultant can earn a graduate about $77,000.
In order to become a researcher or professor, students will need a PhD degree in environmental sciences. Researchers can earn about $66,000 a year, while professors can earn about $71,000 annually. Meanwhile, geoscientists can earn an average annual salary of $80,000 and hydrologists can make about $82,000. A career in environmental sciences as an environmental health and safety manager may take home about $86,000 per year.
Graduates who enter careers in environmental sciences will work outdoors, and in laboratories and offices. Pursuing a masters or PhD degree in environmental sciences provides an excellent opportunity to study abroad and discover new ecosystems. Those who enter environmental sciences careers are able to do what they love, as well as improve the world in which they live.