Are you passionate about protecting the natural environment? Learn what you can do with an environmental science degree.
Climate change and the impact we’re having on our natural environment is arguably the most urgent global issue of our time. If you care about the environment and want to play a part in preserving our natural world, getting a degree in environmental science is a great first step.
It’s perfectly understandable if you’re under the impression that an environmental science degree is highly specialised. However, the knowledge and skills you gain during your studies can be applied across a whole range of interesting industries and job roles.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what you can do with an environmental science degree and the sort of jobs you can consider applying for. Let’s dive headfirst into a world of eco-discovery.
What is environmental science?
Environmental science is an interdisciplinary field that includes physics, chemistry, geology, and biology learnings. These are combined to study environmental issues and human impacts on the natural world.
Studying environmental science means you can work on a range of matters, such as:
- Climate change
- Soil contamination
- Water quality
- Waste management
Thanks to growing public awareness of environmental issues and an urgency to do something about climate change, environmental science has grown in importance and popularity.
Therefore, if you want to get involved and play your part in shaping our future on planet Earth, then a degree in environmental science could be your calling.
What will you study as part of an environmental science degree?
While studying for your degree in environmental science, you’ll cover a wide range of modules. The exact course content and modules will depend on the university you attend, but here’s an idea of what to expect:
- Global issues in environmental science
- Data science
- Ecology and conservation
- Atmospheric and oceanic systems
- Evolution of human societies
- Sustainable development
- Politics of climate change and energy
- Population and community ecology
All of these modules will be assessed using coursework, essays, exams, presentations, projects, and a dissertation.
As an environmental science student, you’ll develop a wide range of career-specific skills that’ll help you tackle environmental issues and challenges on a local, national, and global scale.
However, you’ll also learn some key transferable skills that can be applied to lots of different careers. Soft skills you’ll develop include:
- Creative thinking and problem-solving
- Ability to conduct research and analyse complex data
- Excellent communication
- Presentation skills
- Maths and IT skills
- Planning and time management
If you’re looking to start an online degree, find out how you can be best prepared to do so in our how to prepare for your online degree article.
What jobs can you get with an environmental science degree?
With an environmental science degree, there are lots of different careers you can specialise in. Some will be directly linked to the expertise you’ve gained as an environmental scientist, whereas others will be relevant due to the transferable skills you’ve learned.
1. Commercial horticulturist
As a commercial horticulturist, you’ll be involved in the growing, distribution, and selling of food, crops, and plants. You’ll need to manage horticultural enterprises and have good business and IT competence, as well as scientific understanding and cultivation skills.
2. Environmental consultant
Your role will be to provide detailed technical assessments and advice on environmental matters for clients. The overall aim is to minimise or reduce environmental damage by providing expert advice.
3. Environmental education officer
Promoting conservation and sustainability whilst raising awareness of environmental issues, you’ll teach the general public about the natural world and how to look after it. This may involve work in settings like nature reserves or schools.
4. Environmental engineer
You’ll be responsible for managing and reducing waste and pollution to protect the planet. This involves coming up with solutions for the disposing of waste, controlling environmental hazards, and decreasing soil, water, and air pollution.
5. Environmental manager
You’ll oversee the performance of private, public, and voluntary sector organisations, to make sure environmental standards are met. This means making sure a business operates in line with environmental guidelines and targets.
6. Nature conservation officer
Managing and protecting the environment by promoting sustainability, you’ll educate people using detailed information and analysis about the natural environment. Your aim is to promote awareness about the countryside and make sure people understand how to preserve it.
7. Recycling officer
You’ll work in the recycling and waste management industry to develop recycling schemes and reduce waste. This role is perfect for someone who’s passionate about sustainability and wants to help educate local communities, schools, and organisations.
8. Sustainability consultant
As a sustainability consultant, you’ll work with businesses to help them become more socially and environmentally responsible. This role is perfect for those who have an interest in the environment and business, creating sustainable solutions that benefit both disciplines.
9. Waste management officer
You’ll be responsible for organising and managing waste disposal, collection, and recycling facilities. Responsibilities may include waste treatment and street cleaning operations. The ability to understand complex legislation is a must.
10. Water quality scientist
As a water quality scientist, you’ll be in charge of all aspects of water quality through scientific testing and analysis. This involves making sure water quality targets and legislation standards are met. You’ll generally specialise in drinking water, surface water, or groundwater.
Other environmental science jobs
- Environmental health practitioner
- Horticultural consultant or therapist
- Landscape architect
- Town planner
- Transport planner
- Water engineer
What is the average salary for an environmental scientist?
Once you’ve completed your degree, the amount of money you earn will completely depend on the sector you enter. However, as an estimate, your environmental science job salary is expected to be £38,382 in the UK.
Some of the most popular job fields for environmental scientist graduates include:
- Conservation and environment
- Business associate
- Natural and social science
- Science, engineering, and production technicians
- Sales, marketing, and related associate professionals
By gaining further experience and progressing into more senior roles, you can expect your salary to rise significantly.
Careers in environmental science: additional learning
The jobs available to you with an environmental science degree can be very interesting and incredibly rewarding, as you’ll play a key role in helping to shape the future of our natural environment.
If you’re ready to start making a positive contribution to fighting climate change and preserving the environment, make sure you explore our nature and environment courses at FutureLearn.
If you want to tackle the environmental challenges of tomorrow, our courses will help you to develop your skills and knowledge alongside your studies.
Online environmental science courses at FutureLearn
- A Beginner’s Guide to Environmental Science: Wicked Problems and Possible Solutions by Central Queensland University
- Ecology and Wildlife Conservation by the University of Leeds
- Planet Earth: Understanding and Protecting our Environment by the University of Leeds
- Introduction to Environmental Cost-Benefit Analysis by Deakin University
- Renewable Energy: Achieving Sustainability through Bioenergy by the University of Leeds
If you’re interested in other science degrees, check out our collection of online STEM degrees.