Potential Careers

A career serving the environment goes beyond vocation - it’s a calling. ESS graduates find careers in government, industry, and academia, working to change the world by improving its environment. And these passionate, socially engaged grads are ready to hit the ground running, whether they enter the working world or graduate school, thanks to their WPI education.

Job Functions and Skills Required

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), environmental scientists and specialists work to protect the environment using their knowledge of the natural sciences, typically doing the following:

  • Determine data collection methods for research projects, investigations, and surveys;
  • Collect environmental data for scientific analysis;
  • Analyze samples, surveys, and other information to identify and assess threats to the environment;
  • Develop plans to prevent, control, or solve environmental problems, such as pollution;
  • Inform and guide government officials, businesses, and the general public on possible environmental hazards and health risks and solutions;
  • Prepare technical reports and presentations to explain their research and findings; and
  • Work with developing countries to create sustainable solutions to environmental and social issues.

Success in this field requires the following skills:

  • Ability to communicate, both in writing and verbally
  • Ability to identify and solve problems
  • Ability to work on a team and get along with others
  • Critical, analytical thinking
  • Knowledge of technology and the natural sciences

Career Prospects

The BLS says employment of environmental scientists and specialists should grow 19 percent from 2010 to 2020--about as fast as the average for all occupations. Most growth should come from private consulting firms that help clients monitor and manage environmental concerns and comply with regulations.

Types of Jobs

Most environmental scientists and specialists work for private consulting firms or for federal, state, or local governments, according to the BLS. Career fields ESS grads have entered include the following:

  • Compliance management
  • Environmental advocacy
  • Environmental communications
  • Environmental education
  • Environmental health
  • Environmental law and policy
  • Environmental planning
  • Environmental policy and analysis
  • Environmental product design and packaging
  • Hazardous waste mitigation and assessment
  • Integrated solid waste management
  • Natural sciences
  • Resources economics
  • Sustainability education