Environmental scientists will typically conduct research by gathering samples and data.
Environmental science is a discipline that focuses on both science and policy to address a number of pressing environmental concerns, such as waste management, public water safety, air pollution and recycling. An advanced degree in environmental science provides students with opportunities to deepen their knowledge of the issues outlined above, and typically involves the completion of research projects and practical assessments, Study.com detailed. As a discipline, environmental science is rather broad, and many master's degree programs provide individuals with the chance to truly specialize in an area or topic that interests them the most.
In terms of prospects post-graduation, more often than not, students that opt to study for a master's degree in environmental science will move onto a career, either in the public or private sector, that involves developing strategies and solutions for dealing with common environmental problems.
While it's possible to begin a career in environmental science after the undergraduate level, students that opt to study for a higher degree will likely benefit from an increased number of job opportunities and higher starting salaries. Indeed, a career in this industry can be lucrative, and given the growing number of environmental issues engendered by global climate change, there will surely be an increased demand for environmental scientists in the coming years, Johns Hopkins University noted.
So if you're considering pursuing a master's in environmental science but are unsure of the potential career paths this program of study could lead to, then check out the list below.
1. Environmental Scientist.
This is perhaps the most common and obvious career path, given the title of the degree! An environmental scientist will conduct research concerning a number of environmental issues that pertain to public health and safety, such as pollutants or the risk of flooding or any other major environmental concern. Individuals in this profession will frequently travel, heading to pertinent sites to collect data before analyzing and then presenting it, Environmentalscience.org reported.
"Environmental scientists that work for the government can earn $95,000 per anum."
Environmental scientists can be found across an array of industries as well as public agencies. For example, some environmental scientists are employed by state and federal governments to consult on environmental policy, while others may work in the corporate sector, advising companies on things such as the environmental impact of development projects.
In terms of compensation, environmental scientists can expect to earn, on average, around $63,000 a year, although environmental scientists that work for the government can earn in excess of $95,000 per annum.
2. Atmospheric Scientist.
This kind of career will require specialization in weather and climate at the advanced degree level. Atmospheric scientists, including meteorologists, study weather patterns and long-term climate trends across the world, the Bureau of Labor Statistics explained. The job entails an extensive amount of research and will often necessitate travel to an array of sites to collect data. Atmospheric scientists can work in a number of different areas and capacities, such as research laboratories, academic institutions and weather centers. It's even possible to secure a career in the media as a television meteorologist. The source noted that compensation for this kind of career is typically generous, with meteorologists in particular making an average of nearly $90,000 a year.
3. Environmental consultant.
In a similar vein to an environmental scientist, a consultant will typically work with companies or government bodies to advise them about the environmental impact and suitability of projects and developments, Prospects detailed. A consultant will be tasked with ensuring that any adverse environmental impacts of projects are curtailed or eliminated entirely, as well as ensuring that the organization in question obeys local environmental laws. Environmental consultants can typically be found working on projects such as renewable energy developments and flood risk assessments. In terms of salary, a typical consultant will earn around $65,000 a year.
A master's degree in environmental science can also be the first step toward a teaching position at the college level. Most tenure track professor positions will require a PhD and a master's is usually a prerequisite for such an advanced degree. Professors in the field of environmental science, much like environmental scientists, will conduct research and publish studies, along with teaching students. Glassdoor noted that salaries for this position can vary considerably according to institution and experience level, but a typical assistant professor will make around $60,000 a year.
It's possible to teach at the high school level with just a master's degree, however. Environmental science graduates can teach geography, science, geology and even mathematics. Note that in order to teach at most high schools an additional teaching qualification, usually from the state, must be obtained.