The B.A. in Earth and Environmental Studies provides broad training in the physical sciences, especially process-oriented geosciences that focus on Earth’s life-sustaining surface environment. Elective tracks allow students to focus their studies on (1) climate and environmental change, (2) environmental policy, (3) sustainability, (4) Earth resources, (5) environmental management, or (6) environmental education. Most tracks are paired with an undergraduate Certificate Program that can be largely satisfied by major electives.
This training establishes a foundational understanding of the evolution of the Earth system with an emphasis on surface environment, oceans and climate and implications for sustainable human societies, empowering graduates to help Arizona and the global community address some of the most pressing challenges of the day in environmental health, climate change, and natural resources.
Graduates will be prepared well for “green” professional careers in fields such as education, environmental reporting, public planning, environmental consulting, and natural resource management or for graduate school in related disciplines such as natural and environmental sciences or education, communication and science journalism, public policy, and environmental management. The advising staff at ASU’s Career and Professional Development Services are there to help you identify and navigate the right path for you.
Earth and Environmental Studies Career Outlook
This interdisciplinary degree will prepare students for both technical and public policy, communication, or educational career paths helping Arizona and the global community address some of the most pressing challenges of the day in environmental health, climate change, and natural resources. Graduates will be prepared well for “green” professional careers in fields such as education, environmental reporting, public planning, environmental consulting, natural resource management, and more technical positions as environmental scientists in a variety of sub-disciplines. The degree will also prepare students for graduate school in the natural and environmental sciences or education, environmental journalism, environmental law, public policy, and environmental management.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the many career opportunities in growth areas available to graduates of this program include, among others:
- Environmental scientist (8% growth, $73k median salary)
- Geoscientist (7% growth, $93k)
- Conservation Scientist/Natural Resource Manager (7% growth, $64k)
- Hydrologist (6% growth, $84k)
- Geological and Hydrologic Technicians (8% growth, $73k)
- Natural Science Manager (9% growth, $51k)
- Environmental Science technician (11% growth, $47k)
- Environmental science educator (Secondary Ed: 8% growth, $63k median salary)
In a report on geoscience employment growth in January 2022, the American Geosciences Institute reported strong employment growth since March 2021 in areas of environmental geoscience including 94% growth in environmental and geoscience technician (94%) occupations with the greatest increase in geoscience jobs in geoscientist and environmental scientist occupations (+41,100 jobs) and environmental engineering occupations (+37,900 jobs) between March and November 2021.
Top 20 Environmental Science Careers
What Are Potential Careers for Earth and Environmental Sciences Graduates?
As summarized effectively on the website Careers in Environmental Science, environmental scientists either work to “identify, control, or eliminate sources of pollutants or hazards affecting the environment or public health”, “develop plans to prevent, control, or fix environmental problems like air pollution”, or “advise government officials that make policy, and businesses that need to follow regulations or improve their practices”. This work can focus on the environmental issues, impacts on human health, environmental remediation or the communication of these issues to the public as educators or communicators.
Potential occupations for our graduates span these broad sectors:
- environmental specialist, analyst or technician
- environmental consultant/planner
- environmental restoration planner
- environmental remediation
- environmental sciences professor
- natural resource manager
- natural hazards assessment and mitigation
- pollution prevention or remediation
- environmental monitoring and exposure assessment
- public policy/planning
- data analyst
Where Can Earth and Environmental Sciences Graduates Find Work?
The most common workplaces for environmental scientists are: (1) in private companies as consultants on technical, scientific, management or planning related to environmental protection, pollution, public health, sustainability, etc. (25%), (2) in state government, often interfacing between companies and regulatory agencies (24%), (3) in local government agencies or utilities (12%), (4) in engineering firms (10%), and (5) in federal government agencies.
Potential career settings for our graduates include:
- governmental agencies (city, state, or federal)
- nongovernmental organizations
- environmental consulting firms
- environmental engineering firms
- sustainability/environmental consulting, planning, and management for private sector firms
- nonprofit organizations
- publishing companies
- regulatory agencies
How Much do Environmental Scientists Make?
Environmental scientists across the board enjoy and average annual salary of about $80,000. Those working as consultants on technical, scientific, management or planning related to environmental protection, pollution, public health, sustainability, etc., in the private sector make about $82,000. Those working in state or local government agencies make about $70,000 - $75,000. Those working with energy companies earn the most, around $108,000. These numbers are for May 2020 and wages have been rising.
Example Occupations of Recent Earth and Environmental Sciences Graduates
- environmental engineering consultant
- environmental services specialist
- marketing and communications manager
- education reporter
- soils engineering technician
- environmental journalist
- health reporter
- behavioral health professional
- soil scientist
- project manager/coordinator
- environmental health and safety technician
- water resources specialist
- water educator
- public affairs specialist
- sustainability consultant
- environmental coordinator
- geotechnical engineering technician
- informatics analyst
- environmental technician
- solar advisor