Careers in Environmental Science

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What Career Can I Practice with Environmental Science Degree?

Environmental science is the branch of science dealing with the study of different components of environment, the factors influencing the changes in the environment and the interdependence of living things within their environment. These include the study of climatic change; conservation of energy; biodiversity; ground water and soil contamination; technologies developed to treat air pollution, sound pollution etc.

Wholly, environmental studies incorporate more of the social sciences for understanding human relationships, perceptions and policies towards the environment.

EnvironmentOpens in new window is the source of life that provides life supporting substances like water, air, sunlight to all living beings on earth.

Due to the rigid growth in industrialization and urbanization, the natural balance of the environment has been disturbed and as a result, the process of growth and development has become unsustainable. In order to protect and preserve our environment and its invaluable resources, there exists a huge demand for environmental experts.

Environmental scienceOpens in new window is becoming an interesting and one of the most sought after careers because of the increase in awareness about the clean environment.

A formal training program in the field of environmental science is needed for those who are interested to build up a career in this field.

One can work in this field as:

  • Environmental Scientist,
  • Environmental Consultant
  • Environment Educationist
  • Environmental Engineer
  • Environmental Biologist
  • Environmental Modeler
  • Environmental Journalist
  • Environmental Photographer
  • Conservation Hydrologist
  • Environment-related Technologist working in laboratories that engae in soil and water tests, pollution detection and control.

Careers can be found in environmental monitoring organizations, environmental consultancies, universities, Industries, fertilizer plants, NGOs, Pollution Control Boards, Public Institutions and Private Industries and Firms and many others.

Environmental science professionals are involved in the study of changes in the earth’s atmosphere. Their major objective is to find new ways to improve and conserve the standard of living by examining the circumstances of the environment, recognizing the impact of human actions on earthly and aquatic ecosystems, and developing strategies for restoring ecosystems. They conduct research studies in order to develop different methods for decreasing and controlling the sources of environmental pollution.

Though environmental science is a broad field of study, no specific separation is needed because its branches overlap with each other. However to make things easier environmental science has been divided as:

  • Environmental Chemistry — dealing with the chemical changes in water, air and soil
  • Ecology — the study of interactions of various species of living organism with one another and with the physical and chemical environment
  • Geosciences — also known as earth science, it deals with the study of demographical part of the environment including oceans, biosphere, mountain, solid earth
  • Atmospheric Science the study of the gaseous layer that covers the earth like a blanket
  • Environmental Assessment — deals with the ways and methods to improve and enhance the environment
  • Enivironmental Microbiology — related with the study of composition and physiology of microbes and their communities in the environment.

Eligibility & Course Areas

Usually environmental science is taught as a MSc. Program. Graduates course b in environmental science are offered only by a few institutions. The eligibility criteria for 3 year B.Sc Environmental Science is a pass in 10+2 examination or equivalent with Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Engineering diploma holders can also join the course.

Andhra University; Gandhi Institute of Technology and Management (GITAM), Visakhapatnam and University of Madras, Chennai etc. offers Bachelor of Environmental Management (BEM) course. Eligibility criteria and duration of this course is as same as that of B.Sc. course.

The requirement for 2 years M.Sc. Environmental Science is B.Sc. Environmental science or a bachelor’s degree in any discipline of science namely zoology, botany, physics, chemistry, biology, agriculture science etc. Work experience is preferred by some institutes for the MSc course and some institutes conduct entrance examinations.

Candidates with master degree in environmental science can opt doctoral and post-doctoral courses like M.Phil and Ph.D and can become environmental scientists. Ph.D. courses are offered by Post Graduate Studies and Research, Hyderabad and Osmania University.

Certain institutes offer short term PG Diploma courses in environmental science and environment management.

The Centre for Environmental Education and Research and Advocacy (CEERA) of the National Law School of Indian University, Bangalore offers one year Postgraduate Diploma in Environmental Law (PGDEL) to graduates in any discipline through distance learning mode. Short term courses are also offered by Sikkim Manipal University, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi etc.

The curriculum of the courses may vary from institute to institute. Generally it involves observation of changes in the earth’s atmosphere by pollution, global warming, forest conservation, soil erosion etc. pollution control, industrial hygiene, radiation protection, hazardous waste management, toxic materials control, water supply and other allied areas in this field.

Graduate programs help students to specialize their knowledge and skills in the field which is essential for an increase in job value. Post graduate programs will help one to obtain an understanding of today’s most complex environmental issues through the studies in advanced technical skills, conservation theory and waste management.

Personal Attributes

An effective environmental professional/scientist should have a creative and flexible mind, a love for nature and the environment, and a keen interest for its conservation.

To work as an environmental scientists, you will need certain soft skills in addition to the technical skills you will learn in school:

  • Communication Skills: Excellent verbal communication, listening, and writing skills will allow you to share research findings with your colleagues.
  • Critical Thinking Skills: To solve problems you will need the ability to weigh the merits of possible solutions.
  • Reading Comprehension: You will have to be able to understand colleagues’ research findings.
  • Self-Discipline: You will frequently have to work independently which will require you to be very focused and motivated.

Work-Relationship Roles Between an Environmental Scientist and Environmental Engineer

Environmental scientist and engineers collaborate with one another to solve problems in the environment and prevent future ones.

Scientists take an interdisciplinary approach that brings together principles from chemistry, biology, and geology. Engineers use engineering principles to help mitigate the adverse impact industry has on the environment.

What Employers Expect from You

  • Ability to multi-task, plan and execute projects and reports in an organized and timely manner.
  • Must be able to work independently with minimal supervision, analyze and define requirements, establish courses of action and schedules, and manage personal workload.
  • Ability to work well with others and comprehend instructions quickly.
  • Must be highly motivated, customer focused and work well in a team environment.
  • Proficiency with computer programs such as Microsoft Office Suite, etc.
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  • References
    1. Adapted from the manual
      The Right Hand to Eat: 116 Career Choices By Safiya Mustafa Jariwala

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