The Best Paying Environmental Science Jobs

by Terri Williams

Careers in environmental science offer well-paying salaries and an opportunity to specialize in several different areas. Some of the higher-paying career options include college instructors who educate others on environmental concerns and engineers who design systems to control pollution and other environmental hazards. Also, researchers and scientists can specialize in such areas as environmental health, water supply issues and environmental chemistry.

Environmental Science College Instructors

According to May 2012 salary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, environmental science teachers at the university level earned $86,080. Environmental science college instructors educate students on such subjects as sustainability and environmental hazards. Their duties include creating and teaching lesson plans, administering and grading tests and other assignments, and performing research for publication in academic journals. The educational requirement for environmental science college instructors is usually a Ph.D., however, part-time and community college instructors can teach with a master’s degree.

Environmental Engineers

Environmental engineers made a mean annual wage of $85,140 in May 2012, reports the BLS. Environmental engineers design and plan ways to prevent or control environmental hazards. This includes developing ways to improve waste disposal and recycling processes, in addition to controlling air and water pollution. They also seek solutions to global warming, auto emissions and other sustainability and environmental problems. Environmental engineers need a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering or a related field.


As of May 2012 the mean annual wage of hydrologists was $78,920, according to BLS salary data. Hydrologists research and develop ways to solve problems with the nation’s water supply. There are several types of hydrologists, including groundwater hydrologists, who ensure that groundwater is not contaminated by waste disposal. Surface water hydrologists observe current water levels and use their findings to predict future levels and usage rates. Hydrometerologists research and predict the levels of rain and snow and also project drought probabilities. Hydrologists need at least a bachelor’s degree; however, since most colleges don’t offer hydrology as a major, students can obtain degrees in environmental science or the geosciences.

Environmental Scientists and Specialists

The annual mean wage of environmental scientists and specialists was $68,970, as indicated by May 2012 salary data from the BLS. Environmental scientists and specialists study and work toward solutions to minimize environmental hazards. Environmental health specialists observe the effects of environmental hazards on human health. On the other hand, environmental protection specialists study the effects of humans on the environment. In addition, environmental chemists study how acids and other substances affect the environment and people. Environmental scientists and specialists need a bachelor’s degree in environmental science.

About the Author

Terri Williams began writing professionally in 1997, working with a large nonprofit organization. Her articles have appeared in various online publications including Yahoo, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report University Directory, and the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago. Williams has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

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