Highest Salaries for Environmental Science Jobs

Check out the top-paying green jobs for environmental science majors.

By Ashley Henshaw | February 17, 2017

Environmental engineers use both scientific and engineering principles to manipulate the environment.
Photo: Nwscc.edu

Due to growing concerns over climate change and environmental impact, there’s an increasing demand for qualified workers with environmental science degrees. These green jobs are some of the hottest careers right now, giving environmental science majors a robust job market to look forward to after graduation. Find out which environmental science jobs are the most lucrative and what those roles entail.

Check out these green jobs if you’d like to score a high-paying job in an environmental field.

Enviormental Engineer -- Median Salary: $80,890

Environmental engineering majors study sciences like biology, soil science and chemistry along with engineering practices and principles. In their work, this knowledge is applied as they design systems that will reduce waste or even clean up the environment. Depending on where they are hired, engineers may work on projects like designing a system to clean municipal water supplies or reduce air pollution. They may also work in a consultant role to ensure that a facility complies with environmental regulations or to help companies make their practices more eco-friendly.

  • Pay: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for environmental engineers is $80,890 per year. The top 10 percent of environmental engineers are paid over $122,290 annually.
  • Who’s hiring: One of the best places to look for work as an environmental engineer is at government agencies. These organizations may be at the federal, state or local level. There are also environmental engineering jobs available at various corporations and architectural firms.
  • Job outlook: The BLS reports that employment for environment engineers is expected to grow by 15 percent between 2012 and 2022.

Geoscientist -- Median Salary: $90,890

If you’re particularly interested in the physical sciences, then a career as a geoscientist may be a great way to use your environmental science degree. Geoscientists generally spend a lot of time in the field collecting samples and data. Many of these professionals work in jobs geared towards environmental protection or the sustainable use of natural resources.

  • Pay: The BLS reports that the median salary for geoscientists is $90,890 per year. The top 10 percent of geoscientists earn over $187,200 annually.
  • Who’s hiring: Oil and gas extraction companies often hire geoscientists, though you may want to consider a company’s environmental impact to make sure it aligns with your views. Geoscientists are also hired by the government at both the federal and state level. Engineering firms sometimes hire geoscientists to aid in project planning.
  • Job outlook: The BLS reports that the demand for geoscientists will increase 16 percent between 2012 and 2022.

Geoscientists have a wide variety of employment opportunities.

Sustainability Director -- Median Salary: $91,166

The knowledge you gained regarding natural resources management as part of an environmental science major could lead you to a lucrative position as a sustainability director for an organization or company. This position is becoming more common at large corporations who need help ensuring that they are complying with environmental regulations. In addition, some companies are going above and beyond to look for ways to develop more eco-friendly practices that will reduce their impact on the environment. A sustainability director leads the efforts to design these practices and stays up-to-date on all the latest environmental regulations to ensure that the company remains in compliance with the law.

  • Pay: According to Payscale, the median salary for sustainability directors is $91,166 per year. The top earners in this field make over $150,000 annually. Some of the compensation in this job may come from bonuses and profit sharing.
  • Who’s hiring: Large corporations have the most openings for sustainability directors. In addition to director positions, there may also be job titles like “sustainability officer” and “sustainability manager” available.
  • Job outlook: The BLS reports that the availability of occupations in sustainability will continue to grow in the coming years.

Environmental Lawyer -- Median Salary: $113,530

Students who are passionate about the environment may want to consider a career as an environmental lawyer. Though you’ll need to attend law school after earning your undergraduate degree, the rewarding nature of the job and the higher pay may very well be worth it. Environmental lawyers work to defend the environment and ensure that companies comply with environmental laws and regulations.

  • Pay: According to the BLS, the median salary for a lawyer is $113,530 per year. The top 10 percent of lawyers are paid more than $187,200 annually. Generally, those who work in their own practice earn less than those who are partners at a law firm.
  • Who’s hiring: Government agencies like the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and state Departments of Environmental Protection often hire environmental lawyers. In addition, many large corporations hire environmental lawyers.
  • Job outlook: According to the BLS, the demand for lawyers will grow by about 10 percent between 2012 and 2022.

Check out these green jobs if you’d like to score a high-paying job in an environmental field. Though post-graduate education may be required for some positions, an environmental science degree will provide an excellent foundation for the careers listed above.

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