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Careers in the Environment and Sustainability

Updated on November 29, 2015
Clean water is needed by the people of Earth and in Outer Space exploration.
Clean water is needed by the people of Earth and in Outer Space exploration. | Source

Green Jobs - Range of Occupational Opportunities

Over 100 separate job titles target the environment and its protection in the 21st century. The job titles are becoming more high demand yearly, requiring additional workers.

Words used to describe this range of jobs include green, green collar, clean, eco-friendly, environmentally friendly, sustainable, renewable, environmentally conscientious, alternative,and a few others. Whatever words you choose to describe these jobs, they all mean that this type of work leads to a cleaner environment for living and one that is not only conserved for future generations, but also more economical to use within the current generation. It's all about stopping waste and filth.

Cleaner work means fewer cases of workers employed to use carcinogens like coal dust and certain chemicals, and fewer workers falling down coal mine shafts or dying in underground coal mine explosions.

As America turns away from petroleum in future decades, petroleum-related diseases and conditions will lessen in frequency -- Cigarettes by themselves can cause cancer, but cigarette smoking in the presence of petroleum based fuel usage increases the chances of developing cancer by 8,000%.

Even without considering global warming, waste, and other illnesses related to pollution, this is a good reason to develop clean alternative energy sources.

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Geothermal Power is important.Hydroelectric power.Wind Power.Solar Power.
Geothermal Power is important.
Geothermal Power is important. | Source
Hydroelectric power.
Hydroelectric power.
Wind Power.
Wind Power.
Solar Power.
Solar Power.

Free Resources for Finding Jobs and Internships in the Environment

Environmental Careers Listing

  • 760 Whalers Way, Suite 100, Bldg. A.
  • Fort Collins, CO 80525-9802
  • Catalog of SCA Expense-Paid Volunteer Opportunities
  • Appropriate for high school students or adult Resource Assistants

Student Conservation Association

  • P.O. Box 550; Charlestown, NH 03603

Miracle of Straw Bale Building

Some Most Important Jobs for the Environment

  • Educator at an Environmental Center or Outdoor Center.
  • Engineers - Environmental consulting firms, conservation groups, or in government.
  • Environmental Researcher - Private or public institutions or businesses.
  • Forest Ranger - State or Federal government.
  • Fund Raisers - Environmental and Animal Rights organizations, conservation groups, etc.
  • Lawyer working for an environmental consulting firm, environmental organization, conservation group, state or federal government.
  • Lobbyists - Environmental organization, conservation groups, etc.
  • Management Consultants - Changeover to green jobs and industries.
  • Outdoor Trip Leader - Outward Bound, National Outdoor Leadership School, corporate team building camps, etc.
  • Program Director - Outdoor/environmental centers, environmental organizations, conservation groups, etc.
  • Scientist - Universities, foundations, environmental organizations, or government.
  • Teacher - K-12, outdoor/environmental issues through literature, science, history, politics; or through an outdoor program
  • Urban Planner/Architect - City, County, State or Federal.

The United States Department of Labor (DOL)

... publishes a new manual yearly called Occupational Outlook. It contains all of the known Job Titles available in the United States and associated territories for the year in which it is published. In addition, it references Emerging industries and job titles that are being or will be developed shortly. Each Job title is official and bears an identifying number.

Occupational Outlook provides:

  • Job Descriptions
  • Job Duties
  • Descriptions of the daily tasks and work-life of a person employed in the Job Title
  • Salary Ranges
  • Related Job Titles
  • Statistics associated with the Job Title and related titles
  • Education & Training [E & T] requirements
  • The Outlook for the job title - That is, whether the job is producing fewer openings, the same amount of openings as the previous year, or greater numbers of openings; and the chances for promotion to greater responsibilities and pay.
  • Associations governing the Job Titles addressed.

Job Titles Most Involved in Environmental and Sustainability Occupations

In order to access full data on each of the following entries, click on and enter each entry title below into the Search DOL box with the yellow header. You can also search all of the entry titles in the Top Environmental and Sustainability Jobs listed above. All of these searches will yield additional job titles as well for your consideration in the world of environmental and sustainability careers..


  • Engineers --Environmental Engineers are coming into more high demand than other engineers in the 21st century. Civil Engineers are even more in high demand and greatly affect the environment in the planning and revitalizing of cities and public works. Environmental Engineers enhance and improve environmental health.
  • Engineering Technicians --These people work hand in hand with the engineers and are vital employees.
  • Environmental Engineering Technicians -- These employees modify, test, and operate equipment and devices to enhance environmental health and develop mew methodologies and components..
  • Engineering and Natural Sciences Managers


  • Statisticians -- Statisticians work for scientific, environmental, and agricultural agencies. They gather and analyze data to help the agencies as well as the engineers and other environmental workers.
  • Environmental Scientists and Hydrologists -- Associated with water in the environment.
  • Environmental Scientists and Specialists (also Health)
  • Registered Nurses -- Occupational/vocational health nurses and Public Health nurses work to prevent job-related and environmental injuries and illnesses. An EXTREMELY HIGH DEMAND occupation, more and more will be needed through 2100AD, and are much used in Travel Nursing, which pays premium wages and benefits, including rent or mortgage.
  • Environmental Science, Health, and Protection Technicians
  • Environmental Science Teachers, Postsecondary
  • Science Technicians -- These include lab and field tests workers and forensic science applications.
  • Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians
  • Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services

Specific Scientists


  • Urban and Regional Planners -- These workers help with Go Green! Types of projects and tackle environmental issues like pollution.
  • Surveyors, Cartographers, Photogrammetrists, and Surveying and Mapping Technicians
  • Landscape Architects
  • Interior designers -- The highly public and growing knowledge of environmental issues is affecting this Job Title and Interior Designers that acknowledge and work in a green methodology will prosper.
  • Construction
  • Construction Laborers
  • Construction Managers; for an example, see Cob Building.


  • Advocacy, Grantmaking, and Civic Organizations-- Environment, alternative energy, and wildlife organizations require skilled advocates and PR representatives.
  • Agricultural and Food Scientists
  • Forest, Conservation, and Logging Workers
  • Mining
  • Motor Vehicle and Parts Manufacturing
  • Power Plant Operators, Distributors, and Dispatchers
  • Water and Liquid Waste Treatment Plant and System Operators

What Characteristics Make a Good Environmental Professional?

Is there an Environmental Personality? -- Take the following survey to see if you are "Environmental."

Would an Environmental Career be Good for You?

1. The Environmental Workplace - check all of the below features that you would enjoy.

____I want to work with other people or serving others.

____I want to work alone.

____I want to work as part of a team.

____I want to work outside.

____I want to work with any or all people that are urban/rural/ disadvantaged/ handicapped/behaviorally or mentally problematic or challenged.

You'll need above of the above goals.

2. Of the activities below that involve outdoor/environmental careers, circle those that interest you.

  • research
  • writing
  • fundraising
  • law
  • lobbying
  • math & sciences
  • politics
  • publicity
  • environmental issues
  • education and training
  • work in the outdoors
  • work with the hands

You'll need several of these.

3. Circle the necessary skills below that you have or want to develop.

  • writing skills - VITAL!
  • public speaking skills & presentation skills
  • fund raising skills
  • research skills
  • outdoor skills (hiking, backpacking, canoeing, orienteering etc.)
  • environmental skills (biology, geology, agriculture, ecology, other)
  • teaching people
  • managing people

You'll need a few of these, especially writing and probably speaking..

4. Lifestyle - Check the elements below that fit you.

____I want to live near the wilderness, including urban areas that are considered internal wildernesses.

____I want to live in a house/apartment and work on environmental issues form an office or lab.

! I am willing to work more than 40 hours/week (If not, think about another career)

School's Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Environmental Engineers

Education & Training and Research in Green Jobs

  • GEOTHERMAL EDUCATION OFFICE Global Geothermal Resources map and classroom materials.
  • UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY - The Renewable Alternate Energy Laboratory (RAEL)
  • KANSAS UNIVERSITY - Geothermal Reservoirs, their structure, functions, and use.
  • Building and Environmental Thermal Systems Research Group -- heat transfer, HVAC, energy simulations, hydronic heating, geothermal heat pumps, and ground loop heat exchangers. International Ground Source Heat Pump Association.
  • Geothermal Energy - Technical assistance to development & applications - Geo-Heat Center.
  • STANFORD UNIVERSITY - New Reservoir Engineering techniques for geo-heat.
  • UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA, RENO - Geochemistry, hydrogeology, geophysics, thermodynamics, remote sensing, seismology and structural geology (mapping).
  • VIRGINIA POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE AND STATE UNIVERSITY - Regional Geophysics Laboratory in the Department of Geological Sciences -- terrestrial heat flow and low-temperature geothermal energy. Focuses on heat flow from New Jersey to Georgia.
  • WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY - Developing alternative energy programs since 1996.

A Day in the Life - Environmental Scientist


© 2008 Patty Inglish MS


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