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The Environmental Field
The environmental field is an important field for everyone living in the world as the way the environment is managed is important to all. There are many employment opportunities in the environmental field with the appropriate education. Education requirements can be a minimum of an undergraduate degree all the way to a Doctorate. Employment opportunities can be in the private sector or the government, at a local level, state level or federal level. Despite the Trump Administration trying to cut funding for renewable resources, job growth is still relevant in the environmental field. The environmental field offers a variety of opportunities for people interested in forestry, water conservation, air quality preservation, ecology, renewable resources and even in general environmental science. People who love the outdoors and people who want to protect the environment would be able to get a career in the environmental field and could get paid for something that they love.
State of Industry
The United States is the largest market in the world for environmental technologies and represents 1/3 of the global market. Small businesses make up most of the industry, but do not generate a lot of revenue. On the other hand, large companies do make a lot of revenue but do not make up the majority of the market. Additionally, the United States environmental technology industry has done quite a bit of changing over the years. The industry has grown over the past 15 years and can be expected to continue to grow (“Environmental Technology Spotlight”).
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Back in 2018, President Trump was talking about cutting funding for renewable energy. If funding was cut by the 93 percent that the President wanted, there could have been many jobs lost just in renewable resources and air quality control. However, even with the chance of funding always being cut, green jobs are increasing all over the United States. There is also growth in jobs related to sustainability, as well as jobs that make materials for others in the environmental field. Even with threats of the Trump Administration to make coal and gas the main source of energy once again in the United States, job opportunities are still available in the environmental field. Also, despite trying to cut funding for renewable resources, the United States is too far advanced for the environmental field industry to disappear entirely (Gloudeman).
There are a number of jobs within the environmental field all over the world. Some may require more education than others, but people in the environmental field could be an ecologist, a forester, an environmental scientist, or even a park ranger just to name a few employment opportunities (Cobleskill). No matter the job or location, having a job in the environmental field can allow for someone to do what they love, and get paid for it.
Ecologists are scientists who study the diversity and behavior of organisms in an ecosystem. An ecologist can also work for a number of organizations such as government agencies, environmental trusts, conservation charities, and research institutions. Job duties may include identifying plants, animals and other organisms in the field, present data to the public, and collect and analyze data (“All about Careers Ltd.”).
A forester is another job in the environmental field. Foresters can work either in private or governmental organizations. They manage forested lands for economic, recreational, and conservation purposes. A forester may take inventory of tree species, amount of timber and how much it is worth. They may also come up with ideas to conserve habitats for wildlife and develop management plans for forests (“Forester Job Description”).
An environmental scientist can also be employed by companies that clean up areas that may be polluted, help make policies, or even works to help reduce waste. Job duties may include, collecting data from air, soils, food, and water samples, make plans to solve environmental problems, and to present research in technical reports and presentations (“What Environmental Scientists…”).
Lastly, one could also become a park ranger. Park rangers protect state and national parks. They protect the natural resources and wildlife within the parks. A park ranger may also serve as a law enforcement officer. Job duties in the park may include creating programs and activities for the public, keeping the public safe, and protect and manage the park’s resources. As park rangers can also serve as law enforcement, their duties may also include patrolling the park, enforce rules and regulations, control traffic, do search and rescues, and even make arrests for felonies or misdemeanors (“What is a Park…”).
Salaries and Wages
Depending on the location of where one is working and who they are working for, wages can vary greatly. Wages could also vary on education level, as well as experience level. In the United States the average amount an ecologist can earn per year is about 69,000 dollars (“Salary Comparison…”). A forester in the United States could earn between 56,000 dollars and 82,000 dollars (“Salary for Forester”). Also, an environmental scientist can earn about 59,000 dollars a year. Finally, a park ranger in the United States can make about 14.43 dollars an hour which is about 30,000 dollars a year (“Salary Comparison…”). Most jobs in the environmental field pay relatively well for the amount of training and education needed. Also, if one sticks to the same career, they could potentially be making even above average pay just for protecting and helping the environment.
Education and Training
To get a job in the environmental field as an ecologist, forester, environmental scientist or even a park ranger, there are different requirements needed for each job.
To start a career as an ecologist one would need an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in any of the following fields of study: ecology, biology, botanical sciences, marine biology, zoology, geology, or environmental management. If one would like to increase their chances of becoming an ecologist, it would also be of benefit to volunteer with a variety of environmental organizations because it provides potential employees first-hand experience in the environmental field (“All about Careers Ltd.”).
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To become a forester, there are a number of steps involved. The first thing that is required is to earn a bachelor’s degree in forestry, forest biology, dendrology, resource management, forest inventory, conservation economics, ecology, or wilderness management (“Become a Forester…”). A degree in environmental management can also be a start toward becoming a forester (Cobleskill). The next step needed is to gain experience in the environmental field. Most forestry jobs require experience in the environmental fields and one of the best ways to gain experience is to complete internships or volunteer for environmentally conscious organizations. Also, some states in the United States require foresters to have a license, but in other states having a license is voluntary. To get the license one would need to have a bachelor’s degree and be able to pass the state’s exam (“Become a Forester…”).
To be an environmental scientist, one needs a bachelor’s degree in biology, engineering, chemistry, or even physics. However, to advance as an environmental scientist, a master’s degree is required (McKay).
Lastly, to be a park ranger, one needs to have a bachelor’s degree in botany, zoology, ecology, or geology. Degrees in park management or forestry are also acceptable, but they may have a hiring advantage. There are also a few steps one would be required to complete. First, is to earn a bachelor’s degree in one of the programs mentioned above. Next, one would have to apply for the job, then undergo a background check, pass a medical exam, pass a physical test and pass a drug test (“How to Become…”).
Challenges Facing the Industry
One of the biggest challenges facing the environmental industry today is the amount of money allocated for environmental purposes by the federal and state governments. In February of 2018, President Trump proposed repealing the Clean Power Plan that could affect jobs in the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries. There are many other proposals that could affect jobs in the environmental field. For example, President Trump proposed to change methane emission rules for oil companies which would lead to more environmental jobs being negatively affected. Trump also Proposed to cut renewable energy funding by 93 percent. That is a huge amount of funding that could have gone to research as well as funding for jobs (Gloudeman). With the United States being the largest factor in the environmental technology industry, budget and governmental policies play an important part in research and job opportunities (Environmental Technology Spotlight). Despite, the potential budget and policy concerns, the environmental industry will need to continue to monitor and protect the available environmental resources available. There will always be jobs in the environmental field. It is more a question of what types of jobs and how many jobs will be available as more and more people get degrees in the environmental field.
With any career or field of study there are always misconceptions or myths. In the environmental field, some misconceptions include working in the environment means having to work outside all the time, you have to be an environmentalist to work in the environmental field, and formal education and experience is unimportant in the environmental industry (“5 Myths about…”).
One misconception is working in the environmental field means a person will be working outside all the time is untrue. While there is fieldwork that needs to be done outdoors, with most jobs there are still a number of jobs indoors that have to do with the environment. Samples taken in the field have to be looked at and they would also be analyzed by lab assessors and environmental chemists. Also, there are jobs that could bring people to conferences, or even give presentations or present research findings to their organization or the public (“5 Myths about…”). Just because a job says it involves the environment, it does not mean it is only outside. Just like if a job says it is outside, it does not necessarily mean that the jobs are solely related to the environment.
Another misconception is that someone who works with the environment has to be an environmentalist. The media shows most environmental professionals working to conserve nature or helping with pollution. However, there are a number of other roles such as environmental engineers. Environmental engineers work with a variety of different fields. They work to do site remediations and are even found involved in the paper, oil, and gas industries as well as manufacturing. (“5 Myths about…”)
One last misconception is that many people believe that people who work in the environmental field do not need a formal education. However, the truth is that a formal education in the environmental field is just as important as a formal education in other fields. Degrees in the environmental field can range from undergraduates to doctorates like in many other fields of study (“5 Myths about…”). It is important to determine the level of education required for the area of environmental conservation someone wants to work in when determining a course of study and what area in the environmental field a person is interested in working in. Most degrees in the environmental field will require a great deal of science courses and math courses.
The environmental field is in turn quite complex. Even with the few misconceptions, there are still a variety of jobs and paths a degree can take someone in the environmental field. In the environmental field, people can become a forester, an environmental scientist, ecologist, or a park ranger with the appropriate degree and training. In addition, the salary opportunities provide an opportunity to service student loan debt and raise a family. Particularly, for someone who obtains the necessary education to be a forester or even an ecologist. But with any career in the environmental field, most career choices will start out with some form of an undergraduate degree in an environmental degree-based program.
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