Three of the fastest growing sustainability careers you may have never heard of

by Jeanine Behr Getz

Is your student interested in environmental studies? There is no doubt, climate change and social impact are defining a generation and a variety of environmental jobs you may have never heard of are projected to have above average growth over the next ten years.

There has been a 2.74% rise in environmental degrees year over year for the past several years and the jobs I have selected to highlight are three of just many of the fastest growing and higher paid ones in the environmental field.

Unlike the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker, all three of these careers require a bachelor’s degree and encourage a master’s degree for further advancement.

Your student can reference the below sources to discover a burgeoning college, career or internship path that combines their passion for solving climate change and be a sustainable source of self reliance and social impact pride.

AGRICULTURE and FOOD SCIENTIST:

Food insecurity is a global focus and is expected to worsen due to rapid population growth and other emerging challenges, such as climate change and rising demand for biofuels.

What do they do?
Agricultural and food scientists research and analyze the nutritional content of food and develop methods to improve the efficiency and safety of agricultural establishments and food products. Agricultural and food scientists work in laboratories, in offices, and in the field.

What do they need to study?
Agriculture science, biology, chemistry, botany, or plant conservation, genetics, biotechnology

What skills do they need to have/develop?
Communications skills, math skills, critical thinking skills, observation skills and data analysis skills

Top Agriculture & Food Science college programs (25-50% acceptance rate):
University of California, Davis 
University of Florida 
University of Georgia 

Top Career networks:
Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) 
Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) 
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) 

Examples of modern day Ag & Food Science discoveries:
Meatless meat
3D printed food
Plastic free water capsules

Where to look for internship possibilities:
Indeed 
Simply Hired

Is this the right career for you?
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HYDROLOGIST

Water is seen as a human right and there is a need to address global water scarcity, its role in food, energy production, maintaining ecosystem services, and ability to sustain the population growth on our planet.

What do they do?
Everything from locating and controlling water resources to studying how precipitation affects groundwater levels, how surface water and groundwater travel on and under the earth and how water evaporates back into the atmosphere and researches ways of minimizing the impacts of erosion, sedimentation and pollution on the environment. Hydrologists work in offices and in the field.

What do they need to study?
Natural sciences, hydrology concentrations within geosciences, engineering, or earth science, math, statistics, physical sciences, computer sciences, data analysis, digital mapping, environmental law and public administration.

What skills do they need to have/develop?
Analytical skills, communication skills, critical-thinking skills, and interpersonal skills

Top college programs for Hydrologists (25-75% acceptance rate):
Northland College
The University Texas at Austin
University of California, Santa Barbara

Top Career Networks:
The International Association for Environmental Hydrology (IAEH) 
The American Institute of Hydrology (AIH) 
The American Water Resources Association 

Where to look for internship possibilities:
Pathways to Science
Chegg Internships

Is this the right career for you?
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ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEER:

What do they do?
Focuses on protecting the environment by reducing waste and pollution and improving environmental conditions through remediation. They work in an office and in the field.

What do they need to study?
Engineering principles, ecosystem processes, civil or chemical engineering, alternative energy technologies, air quality control technologies, principles of sustainability, water and wastewater treatment, mathematics, and CAD (computer-aided design).

What skills do they need to have?
Critical thinking, communication skills, analytical skills

Top college programs for Environmental Engineers (25-50% acceptance rate):
Lehigh University
Clemson University
University of Vermont

Top Career Networks:
The Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP) 
The American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (AAEES) 
The National Society of Professional Engineers 

Notable Environmental Engineers:
Leonard Metcalf
Isabel Escobar
Harrison P. Eddy

Where to look for possible internship possibilities:
Way Up
CT DEEP

Is this the right career for you?
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Happy Earth Day college, internship, and career hunting!

This year’s Earth Day may look a bit different than last year’s. This past year, we watched the stream of social media posts of anomalies like clean blue skies in India, crystal clear canals of Venice and even wild life walking freely down many city streets during human global quarantine as the Earth seemed to be trying to heal itself. Thank you for venturing into considering a career that potentially could have a positive impact on our planet.

Photo Credit
University of Georgia
University of California, Santa Barbara
Lehigh University