Environmental Science Degree Holder Responsibilities and Job Description

This is an interdisciplinary field that encompasses ideas and information from many scientific disciplines including maths, physics, chemistry, geology, botany, and zoology. As a result, there is a wide range of scientific careers which are available for an environmental science degree holder. How closely they align with the discipline will vary depending on employer, project and individual preference.

There are many careers in environmental science which require scientific understanding but could be accessed by people who studied a different degree. A career in environmental science is so varied, it is difficult to consider. An environmental science degree holder could end up working from home most of the time or travelling around the world on an annual basis. He/She could be doing desk work, fieldwork, or some combination thereof.

The focus could be mathematical, physical, or written. Of course, the majority careers in environmental science are some blend in-between. Those engaged in Environmental Policy, Planning, and Management usually work for a local government and are likely to be engaged in a lot of research-intensive work. Environmental Lawyers may be able to get out of the office to the courtroom, or, again, have intensive desk jobs.

Environmental Policy Degree Holder Job Description

It could be argued that environmental policy is one of the most important career specializations in existence for an environmental science degree holder today. People who have a degree in environmental policy are knowledgeable in quite a few areas.

They study ecology and the environment, such as how climate change works and what factors contribute to it, as well as laws and policies related to environmental changes, such as government regulations that limit the number of waste companies can emit, or even citywide recycling initiatives.

Other important areas of knowledge may include common sources of pollution, methods to protect nonrenewable resources, economics, and statistics. They stand out from Environmental Science majors and Environmental Studies majors by being trained to deal with laws, permitting, and regulations.

Most in the field began their careers by going to college and receiving a Bachelor’s degree in

  • Environmental Policy or a related environmentally-focused area of study. Many schools offer specific tracks to this degree, which allow specialization in specific fields of interest. It is not required to have studied environmental policy specifically for an undergraduate degree, though, and one can be admitted to a graduate program in Environmental Policy with a wide variety of degrees.
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Ecology
  • Economics
  • Statistics, and
  • Business Management are a few undergraduate choices that would provide a beneficial background to a graduate degree in Environmental Policy.

Getting a higher-level degree will greatly improve your knowledge, skills, ability to get a good job, and starting salary. A Master’s or Doctoral degree will allow you to gain specialized knowledge in the areas that you would want to work in during your career. Learn more

Environmental Planning and Design Degree Job Description

The main goal of a program in Environmental Planning and Design is to merge environmental concerns with human desires and needs. Blending efficiency with social desires as well as practicality and environmental feasibility is a true science. There may be different approaches to doing this and different interpretations of what this means. Is the design to maximize efficiency for utilities;

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The nuances involved in finding a balance between nature and the needs of mankind are multitudinous. Often economic demands may win out, but one must remember that those economic demands may change over time as well. What this generation considers a nuisance or unsightly may be the next generation’s future; for example, a highly polluted lake may be turned into a sight-seeing development area with well-planned restoration efforts.

Unlike other Environmental Science programs, Environmental Planning and Design is often housed either in or in conjunction with, a school of architecture. Due to the nature of the profession, there are established routes to licensure in most schools.

There is a good deal of variability among the schools highlighted, researching individual professors may factor into a student’s selected university as well. When choosing this major, students may believe they are going into a program with one goal and come out with another after learning some of the fundamentals

Typical coursework should include basics of design, landscape planning, rural and urban development. Fundamental environmental classes should cover basics of ecology and hydrologic systems and water movement.

Speciality classes may be in anthropologic areas, sociology, interior design, historic design, preservation, restoration, and land management, to name a few. International programs may be available. Learn more

Environmental Law Degree Holder Job Description

Environmental Law is a specialization in law related to the regulation and usage of our natural resources; be they water, air, land, and species inhabiting these areas. Laws are in place globally and locally that regulate specifics from noise levels to chemical discharges encompassing habitat destruction, remediation, and a variety of other subjects.

Pollutants and their containment, transport, and clean-up are a large part of environmental regulatory issues. The energy sector, especially involving fossil fuels such as oil and gas, is highly regulated. Many environmental law professionals can work their entire career just in this arena.

A degree in Environmental Law is just that, it isn’t a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD, it is a “doctor of Law”, or Juris Doctor (JD). You may also see the abbreviation or offering of an LLD or MD, JSP, JSD, etc. from some schools. These speciality degrees are often for individuals planning to teach law, or those that know they have an established role in a well-respected firm that requires such elaborate degrees.

Bachelor’s degrees, and perhaps, if one wanted, Master’s degrees, can be earned in other closely related fields that would aid a student in their environmental law efforts. Suggested fields would be

  • Environmental Policy
  • Environmental Management
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Environmental Legislation
  • Environmental Economics, or Environmental Monitoring and Assessment.

Some students may begin in a true “environmental science”, such as biology or chemistry and then go to law school. They may also major in Policy, Law, Economics, etc. as an undergraduate and then gain an interest in the environmental area afterwards. Typical coursework for the Environmental Law speciality should include environmental law and international environmental law.

Basic legal courses will also be covered so that students can pass the bar exam. If no other environmental classes were taken before law school, students should have some ecology and sustainability core course work. Speciality classes may be in land use, energy law, economic analysis of law, animal law, indigenous rights, various international specialities, and climate change. Learn more

Basic Career Opportunities for an Environmental Science Degree Holder

Teaching

Teaching is an important aspect of environmental science – ensuring future generations understand the importance of the environment and the impact humans have upon it is vital to ensure that preservation and conservation continue in the future.

Typically, the older the pupils the greater the opportunity to specialize in environmental science-related topics secondary teachers are usually expected to teach physics, chemistry or biology whereas university lecturers have greater opportunity to specialize.

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Main Responsibilities

  • Planning and teaching lessons
  • Assessing students to identify weaknesses and strengths inspiring students to develop their interests and abilities
  • Adapt lessons to any changes in class size, ability or attitude
  • Supervise students outside the classroom – for instance in clubs or trips

Required Skills

A degree will be required, as will interest in education. Confident public speaking, strong people skills and a lot of patience is also beneficial! Progression will typically involve managing people and taking greater responsibility for student grades. Strong scientific knowledge and the ability to explain complex ideas is also key.

Environmental Engineer

Environmental engineering is not solely concerned with the construction of eco-friendly buildings or renewable energy facilities. It involves all of the ways buildings and sites can impact on the environment, including tackling contamination or dealing with wastewater or developing regulations to prevent mishaps during construction.

Typical Responsibilities

  • Design projects that contribute to environmental protection
  • Inspect government and private factories and facilities to ensure that they comply with environmental standards
  • Advise governments and businesses on managing and cleaning contaminated sites
  • Evaluate the significance of an environmental hazard and advise of treating or containing it
  • Research the environmental impact of construction projects

Required Skills

A degree in engineering will be required – some universities offer environmental engineering degrees, but any engineering degree will help provide the skills you need. Imaginative thought and problem-solving are very important, as well as data analysis, communication skills and the ability to understand technical information quickly.

Environmental Lawyer

Environmental law is a broad and complex specialism, which is increasingly in demand. This is an area of law that requires a highly technical understanding of environmental issues alongside the key skills required to practice law. This career offers an opportunity to work hard to change attitudes and policy, as an alternative to searching for scientific solutions to environmental problems.

Typical Responsibilities

  • Analyse and interpret data obtained from case law, literature reviews, research and sample findings
  • Convince judges and juries of legal culpability through carefully constructed arguments which are evidenced persuasively
  • Determine if there is sufficient evidence to proceed with prosecution
  • Interpret data through interviews with scientists, often as part of the court enabling them to give expert opinions, testify and inform.

Required Skills

In order to pursue a career in environmental law, you will need to qualify as a lawyer and successfully pass the bar examination. Analytical thinking, public speaking skills, careful judgement, and excellent memory and eye for details and strong scientific understanding are necessary to succeed in this career.

Environmental Scientist

The job duties, working conditions and focus are all very varied in this career; depending on your employer, you could be part of a one-person team conducting an in-depth analysis of a specific body of water, or you could work as part of a large multi-disciplinary team analyzing a wide range of environmental samples.

Typical Responsibilities

  • Informing and supporting businesses, governments and the general public on health risks and environmental hazards
  • Choose the best data collection method for research projects
  • Analyze samples of soil, water, air, food and other materials to collect environmental data
  • Assess threats to the environment through scientific analysis
  • Present technical reports on findings, and explaining research and findings
  • Develop strategies to prevent, limit or fix environmental problems such as land or water pollution

Required Skills

A postgraduate degree in environmental science or a science-related field is usually required. Understanding of a wide range of scientific and data analysis methods, ability to present findings in technical reports and also communicate them in an understandable way.

Zoologist

dinosaur - Environmental Science Degree Holder Responsibilities and Job Description

Zoology is one of the many branches of science that environmental science influences and are influenced by. Although zoology is a very specialized discipline, many zoologists make a detailed study of animal habitats, the impact of human behaviour and the way animals interact with the environment, all of which is closely relevant to environmental science.

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Typical Responsibilities

  • Develop and carry out experimental studies with animals
  • Collect specimens and data for scientific analysis
  • Utilizing geographic information systems and modelling software to analyze animal behaviour
  • Analyze the impact of human activity on wildlife and habitats
  • Develop conservation plans and recommend courses of action on wildlife conservation and management issues to stakeholders

Required Skills

A degree in a biology-related subject is necessary; this can be specified in zoology or wildlife biology or might be a more general degree with electives in these areas. This will equip you with the knowledge of ecology, anatomy and cellular biology required for the role. Strong IT skills, critical thought, attention to detail and problem solving are also key to the role.

Hydrologist

Hydrologists analyze how water influences the environment and how the environment impacts on the quality and quantity of water. There are different kinds of hydrologists – including groundwater hydrologists, who study the water below the Earth’s surface; and surface water hydrologists, who study above groundwater such as streams, lakes and snowpacks.

Typical Responsibilities

  • Measure volume, streamflow, pH and pollution levels of bodies of water and water samples
  • Analyze data on how pollution, erosion drought and other problems impact the environment
  • Research ways to minimize the impact of natural and man-made changes to bodies of water, such as sedimentation, erosion and pollution
  • Use computer modelling software to forecast water supplies, floods and the spread of pollution
  • Evaluate whether water-related projects such as hydro-electric power plans, irrigation systems and wastewater treatment facilities are feasible

Required Skills

A degree is required for this career; very few universities offer a degree in hydrology however, most earth science or geoscience degrees offer an opportunity to concentrate on hydrology. Understanding of economics, environmental law and government policy may help hydrologists influence policymakers. Analytical, communication and critical thinking skills are also key.

Conservation Scientist

Although conservation scientists and environmental scientists appear very similar, and often have similar education, in fact, the roles are very different. Whereas environmental scientists focus on a broader study of air, water and soil; conservation scientists are typically concerned with land use and the effect of consuming land related natural resources such as wood.

Typical Responsibilities

  • Support governments and landowners to decide the most ecological and prudent use of land
  • Help manage parks, forests, natural areas and private land
  • Monitoring forestry and conservation activities to ensure they are complying with government regulations
  • Creating and implementing plans to manage lands and resources
  • Create plans taking into consideration disease prevention, harmful insect invasions and the use of fertilizer.

Required Skills

A degree in an environmental science-related area or forestry is typically required. These degrees teach practice skills alongside theory to prepare you for the role. Decision-making skills, speaking skills, management skills and physical stamina are all important for this role, which is often very hands-on.

Culled from Mendeley | Top Careers in Environmental Science

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About the author

I am Adegboyega Tunde Temitayo. A registered Town Planner with the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP) and Town Planners Registration Council (TOPREC).

I love to think differently and possibly on various Urban and Regional Planning issues to proffer solutions to Urban and Rural Environmental Problems. You can subscribe to my YouTube Channel

As the Chief Editor of Town Planners Diary, I humbly welcome you to this platform which is about enhancing Planning Education through research on various Town Planning and Environmental issues.

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