30 Environmental Science Careers: How To Be an Earth Scientist

Earth Science Careers

30 Environmental Science Careers

This list of 30 Earth Science careers has everything you need to know to carve your own career path as an Earth scientist.

In a nutshell, it’s your Earth Science career kick-start.

Whether you’re new to the industry or a seasoned pro, we break down the top Earth Science careers that employers are searching for.

Bottom line:

By focusing on expanding Earth Science careers, this can take some of the struggle out of your search.

1 Environmental scientists

Environmental scientist
Environmental scientists understand how the natural world interacts with its surroundings. Often, they consult on how construction projects will impact the natural environment.

Among all Earth Science careers, environmental scientists are the all-encompassing job title. It’s not specific exactly what you will work on as an environmental scientist.

Average Salary 69,400$
Percent of Earth Science Careers 41%
Job Trend Faster than average
Level of Education Bachelor Degree or higher
Work Setting Office, outdoor or laboratory

2 Biologists

Biologist
Biologist work with wildlife, marine life and vegetation. They analyze how living things, flora and fauna are composed including their structure and composition.

For example, marine biologists understand ocean life. But wildlife biologists may specialize in birds, amphibians and mammals.

Average Salary 65,000$
Percent of Earth Science Careers 13.7%
Job Trend Average
Level of Education Bachelor Degree or higher
Work Setting Office, outdoor or laboratory

3 Geologists

Geologist

Geologists study bedrock and surface rocks. More specifically, they best understand how Earth’s land forms and rock change over time.

In a geology career, it relates rocks with the physical/chemical structure and the processes that act on it.

Average Salary 66,800$
Percent of Earth Science Careers 12.6%
Job Trend Average
Level of Education Bachelor Degree or higher
Work Setting Office or outdoor

4 Geotechnical engineers

Geotechnical Engineer

Geotechnical engineers understand the behavior of earth materials. For example, they interpret rock and soil samples to investigate subsurface conditions.

In construction design, they contribute to understanding slope stability and types of foundations.

Average Salary 84,000$
Percent of Earth Science Careers 9.1%
Job Trend Faster than average
Level of Education Bachelor Degree or higher
Work Setting Office or outdoor

5 Soil scientists

Soil Layers

Soil scientists or pedologists study how soils relate as a natural resource. This includes soil formation factors, classification, physical, chemical and fertility properties.

Pedology and edaphology are the two main branches of soil science. Soil scientist careers work in areas such as crop productivity and even pipeline planning.

Average Salary 62,910$
Percent of Earth Science Careers 6.2%
Job Trend Faster than average
Level of Education Bachelor Degree or higher
Work Setting Office, outdoor or laboratory

6 Foresters

Nutrient Cycle

Forestry careers specialize in the way we manage, plant, conserve and harvest forests.

Foresters can spend a significant amount of time in remote areas and forested areas. The key focus is on tree identification, timber harvesting and silviculture.

Average Salary 60,970$
Percent of Earth Science Careers 4.0%
Job Trend Slower than average
Level of Education Certification or Bachelor Degree
Work Setting Office or outdoor

7 Agronomists

Agriculture

Agronomist careers focus on crop production and applying new technologies. Agronomist study plant science to improve efficiency in crop production.

In contrast, some agronomists specialize in improving safety and agricultural products.

Average Salary 62,910$
Percent of Earth Science Careers 2.2%
Job Trend Faster than average
Level of Education Bachelor Degree or higher
Work Setting Office, outdoor or laboratory

8 Meteorologists

Atmosphere Weather

Meteorologists and atmospheric scientists partake in weather prediction and issue warnings for severe weather. They understand atmospheric chemistry and physics and how they relate to weather and climate patterns.

In addition, folks in meteorologist careers analyze how weather influences and affect human activity. Meteorologists are often grouped with climatologists and atmospheric scientists. They are often subject to longer work hours for weather emergencies.

Average Salary 79,400$
Percent of Earth Science Careers 1.6%
Job Trend Faster than average
Level of Education Bachelor Degree or higher
Work Setting Office, outdoor or weather stations

9 Hydrogeologists

Groundwater

Hydrogeologists or groundwater specialists specialize in how soil and rock relate to groundwater. For example, this includes the distribution and transportation of water into the surface.

Hydrogeologist careers often undergo environmental investigations and remediation by collecting groundwater samples. For example, they may work in the field assessing water quality, contamination, well or borehole sites.

Average Salary 74,100$
Percent of Earth Science Careers 1.5%
Job Trend Faster than average
Level of Education Bachelor Degree or higher
Work Setting Office, outdoor or laboratory

10 Ecologists

Food Chain

Ecologists understand how organisms relate to each other in their physical environment. For example, they assess population dynamics in a built or natural environment giving advice to policy makers or baseline studies.

In an ecologist career, you will work in all aspects of the environment. For instance, they may conduct studies in wetlands, lakes, ponds, flora and fauna. Their observations may include wildlife, birds, mammals, amphibians or reptiles.

Average Salary 72,600$
Percent of Earth Science Careers 1.4%
Job Trend Average
Level of Education Bachelor Degree or higher
Work Setting Office, outdoor or laboratory

11 Anthropologists

Human Evolution

Anthropologists study how humans and societies behave in the past, present and future. By conducting archaeological and excavation surveys, they better understand Earth’s cultural resources. With greater knowledge of the past, we can improve historic preservation.

Anthropologist careers work with archaeologists and can have extended periods of time in the field. They often conduct research for government and consulting.

Average Salary 62,300$
Percent of Earth Science Careers 1.0%
Job Trend Faster than average
Level of Education Bachelor Degree or higher
Work Setting Office or outdoor

12 Toxicologists and epidemiologists

Bacteria

Epidemiologist or toxicology careers understand how poisonous substances affect living organisms. They assist in reducing people’s exposure to chemicals which pose risks to our health.

For example, this can include our water, air and land. Epidemiologists investigate patterns of disease to prevent spread that affects public health. During epidemic outbreaks, they work for extensive periods of time with risk of contact with disease.

Average Salary 69,700$
Percent of Earth Science Careers 0.7%
Job Trend Faster than average
Level of Education Bachelor’s, Master’s Degree or higher
Work Setting Office, outdoor or laboratory

13 Geophysicists

Earthquake Waves

Geophysicist career study the physical processes that relate to Earth and its surrounding space. They work in seismic, marine and gravity investigations.

For example, they may investigate subsurface material detection.

Average Salary 69,400$
Percent of Earth Science Careers 0.7%
Job Trend Average
Level of Education Bachelor Degree or higher
Work Setting Office or outdoor

14 Marine biologists

Coral Reef

Marine biologists specialize in how life in the oceans behave in their natural habitats. They often work at sea collecting biological samples and recording fish distributions.

Marine biologists collect aquatic samples or observations for marine conservation. For example, they study the effects of eutrophication on marine species and habitat.

Average Salary 53,900$
Percent of Earth Science Careers 0.6%
Job Trend Average
Level of Education Bachelor Degree or higher
Work Setting Ocean, office, outdoor or laboratory

15 Hydrologists

River Delta

Hydrologists analyze how water travels in relation to land and how it impacts people. This may include water availability and risk like drought and flood protection. Hydrologists often work in the field.

For example, they collect water quality samples at lakes, streams and groundwater wells. In the office, they construct hydrologic models to mitigate water resource risk.

Average Salary 65,100$
Percent of Earth Science Careers 0.5%
Job Trend Faster than average
Level of Education Bachelor Degree or higher
Work Setting Office, outdoor or laboratory

16 Arborists

Tree Growth

Arborists specialize in individual trees, shrubs, vines, and other perennial woody plants. They understand how to cultivate and how they respond to cultural practices.

Even though some arborists may climb trees for inspection, others are responsible for habitat restoration and land stewardship. Arborists work in remote areas and urban environments.

Average Salary 48,900$
Percent of Earth Science Careers 0.5%
Job Trend Average
Level of Education Certification or Bachelor’s degree
Work Setting Office or outdoor

17 Geographers

Earth Metabolism

Geographers pay special attention “where” to locate on Earth. By using GIS software, they store physical and built features in the world all in a database. From here, they can analyze and display Earth’s features in a map.

There’s been a significant expansion in GIS jobs over the years. Including GIS positions, geographers would be much higher on the list. On occasion, geographers work in the field.

Average Salary 65,400$
Percent of Earth Science Careers 0.5%
Job Trend Slower than average
Level of Education Bachelor Degree or higher
Work Setting Office or outdoors

18 Botanists

Soil Nutrients

Botanists specialize in how to classify plants and how they grow. For example, they perform various types of studies with plant growth and weed control.

They also conduct scientific experiments to better understand how organisms live and grow.

Average Salary 71,900$
Percent of Earth Science Careers 0.3%
Job Trend Average
Level of Education Bachelor Degree or higher
Work Setting Office, outdoor or laboratory

19 Geomorphologists

Climate Feedback Loops

Geomorphologists assess the creation and evolution of land forms on Earth. For example, they specialize in physical features and geological structures.

Before construction, they often consult engineers to better understand the landscape. Geomorphologists are often categorized in the group of geoscientists.

Average Salary 73,800$
Percent of Earth Science Careers 0.2%
Job Trend Average
Level of Education Bachelor Degree or higher
Work Setting Office, outdoor or laboratory

20 Oceanographers

Ocean Current Circulation

Oceanographers understand how physical and biological properties of oceans interact. This may include anything from marine ecosystems, ocean currents and fluid dynamics.

They often assist in oceanographic observation programs including the instrumentation system and design. Similar to marine biologists, oceanographers may collect water samples or prepare tidal equipment for marine observations.

Average Salary 59,500$
Percent of Earth Science Careers 0.2%
Job Trend Average
Level of Education Bachelor Degree or higher
Work Setting Office, outdoor or laboratory

21 Geochemists

Banded Iron Formations

Geochemists characterize minerals and elements from environmental samples taken in the field. In the laboratory and office, they may examine samples taken from the field and generate reports.

From samples, they can understand the age and composition of rocks, minerals and soils at a molecular level

Average Salary 76,300$
Percent of Earth Science Careers 0.2%
Job Trend Average
Level of Education Bachelor Degree or higher
Work Setting Office, outdoor or laboratory

22 Petrologists

Carboniferous Coal

Petrologists investigate how igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks form specific to oil and natural gas. They are knowledgeable in rock formations and the geologic era they may have formed.

Their main focus is on petrol extraction as a resource. The number of petrologist jobs often vary significantly based on the price of oil. It’s a fluctuating career which range from sparse to bountiful job opportunities.

Average Salary 78,500$
Percent of Earth Science Careers 0.1%
Job Trend Average
Level of Education Bachelor Degree or higher
Work Setting Office, outdoor or laboratory

23 Zoologists

Biodiversity

Zoologists study the evolution, classification and distribution of animals in an environment. As humans disturb habitats, animals are at risk at being extinct now more than ever.

By knowing how animals behave, zoologists are a key piece in conservation efforts around the world. Despite the need for increased conservation efforts, zoologists represent a small percentage of earth science jobs.

Average Salary 65,900$
Percent of Earth Science Careers 0.1%
Job Trend Average
Level of Education Bachelor Degree or higher
Work Setting Office, outdoor or laboratory

24 Paleontologists

Fossil Records

Paleontologists understand how organisms evolve and their interactions in their environment. They also investigate the origin of species by tracing life back to their fossils records.

Jobs in paleontology require significant time in the field by studying fossil records often found in rocks. Unfortunately, there are sparse job offerings for paleontologists.

Average Salary 61,300$
Percent of Earth Science Careers 0.1%
Job Trend Average
Level of Education Bachelor Degree or higher
Work Setting Office or outdoor

25 Limnologists

Ocean Salinity

Limnologists investigate the biological, chemical and physical properties of lakes and ponds. By collecting water quality samples, they relate these readings to terrestrial surroundings.

They often work in fisheries, marine biology and environmental consulting. Limnologists often write reports, calculate statistics, and program computer models. They may work near bodies of water and do extensive traveling for work.

Average Salary 71,800$
Percent of Earth Science Careers 0.1%
Job Trend Average
Level of Education Bachelor Degree or higher
Work Setting Office, outdoor or laboratory

26 Seismologists

Earthquake Waves

Seismologists interpret how seismic waves travel through and around the Earth from earthquakes. In addition, they understand plate tectonics and identify rupture mechanisms and fault structure.

Job postings for seismologists are infrequent. They generally work with volcanologists in research, government and safety.

Seismologists perform various types of field work. In the field, they have to set up various types of instruments.

Average Salary 63,400$
Percent of Earth Science Careers 0.1%
Job Trend Average
Level of Education Bachelor Degree or higher
Work Setting Office or outdoor

27 Sedimentologists and stratigraphers

Grand Canyon Layers

Sedimentologists and stratigraphers inspect how strata and rocks are layered through geologic time. In addition, they focus on resource extraction and exploration.

In contrast, stratigraphers measure how sand, silt and clay are deposited. Sedimentologists and stratigraphers are not very common positions in Earth Science. Sedimentologists often work in architectural, engineering and government services.

Average Salary 84,700$
Percent of Earth Science Careers <0.1%
Job Trend Average
Level of Education Bachelor Degree or higher
Work Setting Office, outdoor or laboratory

28 Climatologists

Atmosphere Composition

Climatologists examine the variation of weather patterns in the past, present and future. By understanding long-term weather, we can learn how climate change will affect the future.

This could involve analyzing water and air quality samples at a local or global scale. Despite the state of climate change, climatologist careers are infrequent. However, meteorologists and atmospheric scientists are closely related to climatologists.

Average Salary 74,500$
Percent of Earth Science Careers <0.1%
Job Trend Faster than average
Level of Education Bachelor Degree or higher
Work Setting Office or outdoor

29 Volcanologists

Volcanologists study how and where volcanoes and related phenomena (lava, magma) erupt and form (past and present). They may work with seismic data and plate tectonics.

Their primary focus is reducing or mitigating the negative impacts related to a volcano eruption. As volcano safety risk is already quite low, volcanologist careers are uncommon. They often work with seismologists in research, government and safety.

Average Salary 64,700$
Percent of Earth Science Careers <0.1%
Job Trend Average
Level of Education Bachelor Degree or higher
Work Setting Office or outdoor

30 Astronomers

Uranus Solar System

Astronomers have their eyes set on the stars and solar system. They study how planet Earth relates to our universe and solar system in space and time.

Astronomers may focus on other types of life exists in the solar system or on other planets. They can also focus on how matter and energy interact including time and origin of space.

Average Salary 101,200$
Percent of Earth Science Careers <0.1%
Job Trend Faster than average
Level of Education PhD, Master’s Degree or higher
Work Setting Office, outdoor or laboratory

Where will you start your earth science career?

Earth Science Careers

You have a chance of a lifetime to start your journey with an exciting career in Earth Science.

Do you want to cement a position in one of the more established areas like geology, biology it forestry?

Or do you want to carve out a career in one of the more specialized niches like seismology, geochemistry or astronomy?

Now, it’s your turn. Where will you start your Earth Science career?

REFERENCES: Number of Jobs: (Indeed Job Search), Salary Data: (The Bureau of Labor Statistics)

2 Comments

  1. Great website for students who have an idea on the type of career they are interested, but not quite sure of the name of the field of study.

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