Choose a career in Environmental Science
Choosing to pursue environmental jobs opens up a whole new world of opportunities. With a number of professions and specialisations within this science field, you can be sure to find an environment related job you will love.
Today we take a closer look at the broad scope of environmental science jobs and what you will need to qualify for some of the many positions in this field of discipline.
Types of Environmental Science jobs
When going into the field of environmental sciences, your focus can be written, mathematical or physical, but you will most likely be performing tasks that include a blend of all these fields.
Should you choose to go into Environmental Planning and Environmental Management jobs, you will most likely end up working for local government. Here you will be involved in a lot of research. An Environmental Planner is involved in trying to minimise the impact development (like housing or transport related construction projects) have on the environment.
Environmental Management jobs, on the other hand, involves developing, implementing and monitoring environmental plans and programmes that aim to promote sustainable growth and development. These environmental jobs also entail the oversight of the environmental performance of both private and public organisations.
An Environmental Officer is responsible for managing the environmental impact an organisation’s processes and products have. These officers can also, in many cases, be involved in managing an environmental management system.
Other careers within environmental science extend to include Wildlife Managers, Horticulturists and Zoologists.
Wildlife management involves using the available science to find a balance between the needs of people and the needs of the wildlife. Wildlife management includes a number of environmental jobs including wildlife conservation, game keeping and even pest control. This field in itself draws on multiple disciplines including chemistry, geography, mathematics and ecology, to name but a few examples.
Horticulturists work to cultivate and propagate plants by drawing on their scientific knowledge. A branch of agriculture, these professionals are able to provide technical information that is extremely useful to fruit, flower and vegetable farmers. Furthermore, horticulturists deal with disease and pest control, and experiment with a variety of different plants. These professionals will sometimes work in the field of landscaping design – creating gardens and parks with the main goal of preserving the environmental resources.
Zoologists, very simply put, studies animals and wildlife. While these professionals can commonly be found at zoos playing a direct role in the care of the zoo’s animals, Zoologists also observe animals and conduct experimental studies in a natural or a controlled environment.
Many zoologists can also be found in environmental science jobs that involve lab work in which the biological aspects of animals are studied. A Mammalogist, for example, studies monkeys and an Ichthyologist studies fish, while a Herpetologist studies amphibians and reptiles.
Other fields within the scope of environmental science jobs include professions such as Meteorologists and Oceanographers.
Meteorologists, in short, study the atmosphere. While operational forecasters within this field analyses weather conditions, research meteorologists delve deeper into specific areas such as severe climate and weather changes.
Oceanographers can also go into a wide field of disciplines including ocean circulation, marine life and ecosystems, geology and plate tectonics, as well as the chemical and physical properties of the ocean itself. Career options within this field include Chemical Oceanography, Biological Oceanography and Geological Oceanography, to name but a few.
Studying for Environmental jobs
As you can see, the environmental job spectrum is wide – it involves just about anything and everything that concerns our natural environment. The benefit of this wide spectrum of fields is that your study options and career opportunities are extremely varied.
South African Universities offer a number of Bachelor Degrees in these scientific fields, and programmes can usually be found in the Natural and Agricultural Science faculties.
A BSc in Ecology will open up doors to a number of careers, including those in the fields of environmentally based private and statutory organisations. Employment opportunities are also available in organisations which are involved in either the direct or indirect use of our planet’s natural resources. Studying towards a BSc in Ecology is a three year commitment.
You can also study towards a BSc in Environmental Science, which will open up career opportunities such as environmental impact analysts, water quality specialists, air quality managers, natural resource experts, environmental protection agents, environmental planners, wildlife conservationists and wetland scientists. Studying towards this bachelor’s degree is also a three year commitment.
Other Bachelor Degree options available include a BSc in Geology or a BSc in Environmental and Engineering Geology (for a career in environmental and engineering geology), a BSc in Zoology, Plant Science, Chemistry and Geoinformatics (for environmental management jobs).
Note that there are entry-level positions within in the environmental jobs sector that do not necessarily require a BSc.
Remuneration and growth
According to PayScale, an Environmental Scientist in South Africa earns an average salary of R210 859 per year. The higher your experience and knowledge level, the higher your income. Environmental Compliance and Environmental Project jobs are associated with a higher income.
In 2014, South Africa moved into the world’s top 10 countries harnessing solar energy with a total of 15 solar plants contributing 503 MW to our grid. Johannesburg is the second best city (out of the Asia/Pacific, Africa and Middle East countries) when it comes to dealing with urbanisation and environmental challenges.
South Africa also has the highest level of international certification for its plantations in the world, with a whopping 80% of our plantations certified by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council). Our country has 320 major dams that supply an unimaginable amount of water and, by the end of 2014, the proportion of the South Africa population using improved drinking water sources was at 94%.
The point of these numbers is this – these are all environmentally related fields that need further implementation, upkeep and development. The great thing about environmental jobs is that your career options extend to include a wide scope of opportunities and fields of specialisation.
From Environmental Officers and Environmental Management jobs, to Pest Control Specialist and Wildlife Managers, environmental science jobs include a range of fun and interesting study and career fields.