Climate change and sustainability are hot fields. Within these large specialties are many subspecialties that those passionate about the environment can pursue. From business to energy to engineering and more, there are many career paths in climate change that you can choose from.
Generally, it is estimated that careers dealing with climate change, green building and sustainability currently employ at least 2 million Americans. Those jobs generate at least $100 billion in GDP and wages annually.
Our research of this growing environmental field found that the following climate change careers are your best options.
#1 Environmental Engineer
Environmental engineers utilize the fundamental principles of engineering, biology, chemistry and soil science to devise solutions to difficult environmental challenges. They also are involved in work to strengthen the effectiveness of recycling, disposal of waste, public health, air pollution and water pollution control. Environmental engineers also deal with climate change, unsafe water for drinking, and the sustainability of the environment.
Salary: The median salary for environmental engineers is $84,800.
Growth: The job outlook for environmental engineers will grow by 12% by 2024.
Requirements: Environmental engineering requires at least a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering, and management positions require a master’s degree.
#2 Environmental Scientist
An environmental scientist uses his knowledge of various natural sciences to provide protection for human health and the environment. Many environmental scientists focus on the study of climate change and how its effects can be mitigated to improve human health and the natural world. These scientists collect various types of environmental data related to climate change, including air, soil, water and food samples. They also may do studies of new construction projects by private business and the government, and how these projects are affected by climate change.
Salary: The median salary for environmental scientists is $68,900.
Growth: The job outlook for environmental scientists will grow by 11% by 2024.
Requirements: Environmental scientist positions usually require a bachelor of science degree in environmental science or environmental engineering. Some professionals also hold a bachelor’s or master’s in biology, chemistry or even physics.
#3 Environmental Science and Protection Technician
Environmental science and protection technicians monitor the environment for sources of contamination, pollution and climate change effects. Anything in the environment that can negatively affect public health is something that environmental science and protection technicians will study. In the public realm, these environmental workers spend most of their time doing inspections of public spaces and businesses. They also may work for consulting organizations and help clients to monitor and manage the environment and to help companies to comply with various regulations.
Salary: The median salary for environmental science and protection technicians is $44,100.
Growth: The job outlook for this profession with increase by 9% by 2024, which is faster than average.
Requirements: Environmental science and protection technicians need at least an associate’s degree, and many need a bachelor’s. The common background in this field is environmental science, public health or environmental health.
#4 Conservation Scientist
A conservation scientist manages the overall quality of parks, wetlands, forests and other natural resources. They are responsible for ensuring that forestry and conservation work complies with various types of governmental regulations. These workers also work to ensure that our natural resources are protected as much as possible from the consequences of climate change. They work with both private business and the government at the state, federal and local levels to improve how our lands are maintained.
Salary: The median salary for conservation scientists is $61,800 per year.
Growth: The job outlook for conservation scientists is about average, with 7% job growth expected through 2024.
Requirements: Conservation scientists need to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in forestry. Some may also have a bachelor’s in environmental science or agricultural science.
#5 Environmental Engineering Technician
Environmental engineering technicians are mostly responsible for carrying out the plans that are developed by environmental engineers. They frequently test, operate, set up and change equipment that is used to monitor climate change and various sorts of environmental pollution. They also regularly perform both indoor and outdoor jobs to monitor environmental quality.
Salary: The median salary for environmental engineering technicians is $49,100 per year.
Growth: The job outlook for environmental engineering technicians will grow by 10% by 2024, which is faster than average.
Requirements: Environmental engineering technicians need to have at least an associate’s degree in environmental engineering, and higher level positions usually require a bachelor’s degree.
#6 Urban Planner
An urban planner develops plans for lang use, which are used to accommodate the growth of the local population and to grow the community effectively, while also keeping in mind the environmental impact of climate change and other environmental factors. Urban planners work closely with government officials in the state and local governments to develop land use and plans effectively. They most often use geographic information systems that both manipulate and analyze data that take into effect myriad environmental factors, including how the changing climate will affect the area where the community or structures are being planned.
Salary: The median salary for urban planners is $70,500.
Growth: The job outlook for urban planners will grow by 6% by 2024, which is about as fast as average. It is expected that urban planners will be needed in many large cities to deal with issues related to climate change, the degradation of the environment and population growth.
Requirements: Most urban planners are required to have a master’s degree from an accredited regional or urban planning program. There currently are 72 such programs in the US, according to the Planning Accreditation Board.
#7 Agricultural and Food Scientist
An agriculture and food scientist studies ways to improve how agriculture products are developed and grown. These professionals are playing an increasingly critical role in expanding the food supply of the country, which is becoming more of a challenge as climate change takes its toll. Many agriculture and food scientists study the chemical and biological processes which make crops and also livestock grow. Scientists in this field also study better ways to select, preserve, process and package all types of food.
Salary: The median salary for agricultural and food scientists is: $62,900.
Growth: The job outlook for this field is about average, with 5% growth in positions expected by 2024.
Requirements: Agricultural and food scientists must have at least a bachelor’s degree, and some may earn their doctoral degree in veterinary medicine.
#8 Agricultural Engineer
Agricultural engineers try to solve agricultural challenges that involve various pollution and environmental problems, such as climate change. They also work to solve difficult agricultural issues regarding power supplies, agricultural machinery, how to use facilities and structures in agriculture efficiently, and how to process and store many agricultural products. They often use computer software to better design agricultural equipment, structures and systems.
Salary: The median salary for agricultural engineers is $74,600 per year.
Growth: Jobs in this field will grow by 4% by 2024, which is slower than average.
Requirements: Agricultural engineers typically possess a bachelor’s degree in biological or agricultural engineering.
A hydrologist studies the ways in which water travels on and through the crust of the earth. They also study how rain, snow, tides and other types of water affect groundwater and rivers. Hydrologists also look at how surface water and water on the group can evaporate or eventually get to the ocean. Further, hydrologists study how water is influenced by changes in the climate, which affects society in many ways. For example, cities that are located on the coasts can be severely affected by rises in sea level and tides beyond the norm. These scientists often work with remote sensing devices to collect data about how water is traveling over the earth, and how climate change is altering this flow.
Salary: The median salary for hydrologists is $80,400 per year.
Growth: Jobs in the field of hydrology will increase by 7% by 2024, which is about as fast as average. Environmental worries centered around climate change and rises in sea level are going to increase demand for these workers.
Requirements: Hydrologists need to have a bachelor’s degree at minimum in hydrology, which is usually a sub specialty offered in engineering, geosciences or earth science.
#10 Sustainable Architect
Sustainable architects focus on erecting buildings and structures that are have an efficient use of resources and are environmentally responsible. Sustainable architecture limits the impact of the structure on the environment by conserving the maximum amount of water and energy. They also are usually constructed from renewable and recyclable materials. Also critical are reducing energy costs. Sustainable architects, as all architects, discuss what the objective, requirements and budget is for a construction project with the client. Next, they develop the final plans for construction after the initial proposal is agreed upon. Computer aided design and building information modeling is used in sustainable architecture in place of traditional drafting today.
Salary: The median salary for architects generally is $76,900.
Growth: Jobs for architects will grow by 7% by 2024. This is about average when compared with other occupations. However, demand for architects with green design skills or sustainable design will be on the rise.
Requirements: To become an architect, you need to earn a five year bachelor of architecture, and often a master’s degree in the field as well. All architectural boards in each state require each graduate to finish a paid internship of three years before they can take the Architect Registration Examination.
#11 Civil Engineer
Civil engineers design, build, operate and maintain many types of construction activities in the public and private sector. The most common projects they engage on are airports, buildings, tunnels, water systems, dams, bridges and roads. Civil engineer expertise is required to guide all types of construction activities; they also are required to ensure that regulations are followed in the construction of these projects. Civil engineers also work on permit documents for many types of projects involving renewable energy.
Salary: The median salary for civil engineers is $83,500.
Growth: Jobs in this field are anticipated to grow by 8% by 2024. More civil engineers will be required for many types of renewable energy products that are critical to slowing climate change. Many experts in government and industry believe that civil engineers will be needed aggressively to educate the public about the dangers of climate change.
Requirements: Civil engineers need at least a bachelor’s degree, and must have licensure to be promoted to leadership roles.
- 1,700 Careers in Climate Change. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20427351-700-careers-in-climate-change/
- Environmental Engineers. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/environmental-engineers.htm
- Environmental Scientists and Specialists. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/environmental-scientists-and-specialists.htm#tab-2
- Agricultural and Food Scientists. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/agricultural-and-food-scientists.htm#tab-4
- Chan, E. Green Gigs – How to Launch a Stellar Sustainability Career. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.themuse.com/advice/green-gigs-how-to-launch-a-stellar-sustainability-career
- Scott, D. Civil Engineers Have a Key Role to Play in Adaptation to Climate Change. (2014, May 12). Retrieved from http://news.asce.org/civil-engineers-have-a-key-role-to-play-in-adaptation-to-climate-change/