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Careers in Environmental Science

In today's fast-paced world, it can be intimidating to find your way to a fulfilling and stable career. One of the most common questions we get is,

What can I do with this major after graduation?
An ESS student takes water measurements from an alpine stream in northern Alaska.

A degree in Environmental Science will prepare you for some of the fastest growing and diverse professional opportunities on the planet. Our graduates work in every job sector from industry to education, working in fields from analytical chemistry to sustainable development. While the career opportunities are as diverse as our students, there are three general pathways that Environmental Science students follow:

1. Direct entry into the professional world

Some students finish their B.S. and want to jump right into the job market. A B.S. in Environmental Science will qualify you for a wide variety of jobs in different professional sectors, including:

  • environmental consulting (private or public sector)
  • working as a research or laboratory technician
  • sustainable business consulting
  • positions with local, state, and federal agencies
  • non-governmental organizations and international development
  • environmental advocacy and outreach
An ESS student collects stream invertebrates during a summer internship. Getting work experience as an undergraduate can help you find your passion and open doors for future employment.

If you are on the direct entry path, it is crucial to get work experience as an undergraduate. We strongly recommend participating in summer internships where you can get professional experience and build the relationships that will help you get a job after graduation. Environmental Science faculty and staff can help you find the summer jobs that can lead to a great career.

2. Graduate education

For many research and leadership positions, an advanced degree such as an MS or PhD is required. These positions include:

  • professional researcher in a national lab
  • researcher or research manager in a private corporation
  • program manager for a local, state, or federal agency
  • faculty or staff at an educational institution
Undergraduate and graduate ESS students present their research at the Spring Runoff Conference. Presentations and publications are stepping stones towards finding a graduate adviser and future employer.

A B.S. in Environmental Science will give you a solid foundation for your advanced degree. As an undergraduate, you will have opportunities to contribute to and present high-level research, including publishing peer-reviewed articles, securing grant funding, and building international collaborations. Our graduates routinely get into the best graduate programs in the country and world.

3. Professional degree in law, medicine, or business

Some of our graduates are bound for medical school, law school, or an MBA. A BS in Environmental Science will give you the foundation you need in the physical and biological sciences as well as laws, policies, and human relationships. By working closely with professors who are leaders in their field, you will develop relationships that can open doors (and provide letters of recommendation) as you continue on your professional development.

On an internship in Ecuador, ESS students use enzymatic techniques to quantify water-borne pathogens in local water supplies. A degree in ESS lets you combine and develop your interests across fields.

Unparalleled access to professors and opportunities

Whatever professional path you are on, an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science can help you make your plans a reality. The high faculty to student ratio in Environmental Science will give you access to professors and opportunities that just isn't possible in many other majors. The engaged and supportive atmosphere in Environmental Science uplifts students and faculty and helps all of us make meaningful contributions to our communities.

The care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.
WENDELL BERRY