Thinking about pursuing environmental careers? Here are 10 of the highest paying jobs that do good for the planet… and your bank account.
Sure, a six-figure salary isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when considering an environmental career, but it can’t hurt! Though traditionally seen as a low-income career path, the growing global awareness towards environmental sustainability has opened up a wealth of job opportunities that strike that sweet balance between doing good for the earth and for your bank account.
So if you’re passionate about sustainable strategies and advocate for a greener world, why not take it one step further and consider pursuing one of these environmental careers? Read on to discover our top 10 environmental careers.
1. Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO)
The increasing call for corporate sustainability has led to a global increase in demand for CSOs, with companies like Nike, Coca-Cola, and AT&T leading the charge by creating this new position within their managerial teams. Sustainability officers generally oversee the environmental policies and goals of a given company and are responsible for coming up with various green initiatives to ensure that government regulations are being met, while monitoring production so as to minimise their carbon footprint. However, CSOs are not an entry-level position, usually requiring more than five years of experience, as well as a deep understanding of environmental issues, and skills in project management and problem-solving.
Annual Salary: USD 200,140
2. Environmental Lawyer
With mounting concern over climate change and environmental protection comes the increasing need for environmental legislation – and a demand for environmental lawyers. It’s their job to uphold regulations and advocate for new policies related to everything from animal welfare and biodiversity to global warming and waste management. Aside from having the relevant legal background, you’ll need industry knowledge, research, and negotiation skills in order to succeed in this profession. Whether you’re practising on behalf of businesses or the government, environmental lawyers are fighting for the good of the world in their endless endeavour to hold corporations and individuals responsible for the harm they may do on the environment.
Annual Salary: USD 119,250
3. Environmental Engineer
Environmental engineers protect our ecosystems by harnessing their expertise in improving conditions for global issues like air pollution, ozone depletion, and acid rain. Ecological data must first be gathered and analysed before suitable solutions can be devised. As a scientific discipline, environmental engineers typically require specialist knowledge in a relevant field such as biochemistry, geology, or hydrology. From treating hazardous waste-systems to preventing water-borne diseases, the services of environmental engineers are pivotal for long-term protection – not only for the natural environment, but also for our personal health and safety.
Annual salary: USD 88,860
4. Energy Manager
Working within a facility or a corporation, energy managers are tasked with developing cost-effective and sustainable strategies for energy use and consumption. Industrial processes usually involve a whole host of technical machinery and equipment, all of which are fuelled by electricity generated by the burning of fossil fuels, which in turn emits dangerous levels of greenhouse gases. Energy management is all about improving constructional designs so as to minimise such adverse effects, ensuring that companies don’t exceed their limits. Earning one of the highest salaries within the realm of environmental careers, who says you can’t save and spend?
Annual Salary: USD 81,198
With a myriad of pressures constantly affecting weather and climate change, climatologists study the atmosphere and recurring patterns in the weather to forecast long-term trends and conditions within a specific region. From collecting climate data and interpreting satellite imagery to conducting simulations and providing consultations, the role of a climatologist can be quite varied, giving you the opportunity to dip your toes into many different areas of interest, while still making a positive impact. Climatologists typically have a strong background in math and physics, with some working as private consultants and others for government research bodies.
Annual Salary: USD 63,817
6. Conservation Scientist
Consider yourself to be one with nature? Well then, a career as a conservation scientist might be just the right fit for you! Conservation scientists escape traditional, pristine laboratories in exchange for the great outdoors, assessing forests, parks, and other lands. Focused on improving natural resources and protecting habitats, these scientists conduct research on soil quality, erosion, and other potential threats to the environment. Reporting back to governments, local organisations, or private landowners, conservation scientists advise on how to better safeguard the environment and its surrounding land for agricultural purposes. Sound like something you’d be interested in? Then consider looking into getting a bachelor’s degree in forestry or a related field like environmental science, agricultural science, or rangeland management.
Annual Salary: USD 62,660
7. Environmental Planner
Environmental planners are essentially the green architects of construction projects. If you’ve got the design skills and artistic eye to match your sustainable pursuits, a career as an environmental planner may just be the perfect dream job for you! With many countries imposing stricter environmental regulations, planners must not only ensure that legal requirements are being met, but also strive to create designs which cause minimal disruption to the natural land itself. In order to lessen the harmful impacts of construction, environmental planners utilise and implement clean technology solutions to assigned building projects. If you’re keen to pursue a career as an environmental planner, you’ll first need a master’s degree in urban planning, regional planning, environmental engineering, or a similar field.
Annual Salary: USD 61,192
Hydrology is the scientific study of water, with a particular focus on its movement, distribution, and impact on the surrounding environment. As one of the more challenging environmental careers, hydrologists often have to split their time between lab work and field investigations. This inevitably involves diving into murky lakes and rivers, and spending long hours on remote terrains in unpredictable weather. Nevertheless, hydrologists play a vital role in solving water problems concerning quality and availability, with a generous paycheck to account for the troubles! Though an entry-level job, most hydrologists will need a graduate degree in the natural sciences.
Annual Salary: USD 60,488
Quite literally going to the core of the subject, geologists observe the processes and movements of the Earth itself. From measuring seismic waves to gravitational forces, the dangerous nature of the job is compensated by a more attractive salary in comparison to other scientistic pursuits. As should be expected, technical knowledge is required to analyse geological data and provide insightful feedback into problems that could potentially damage a country’s land (and economy). If earthquakes and volcanoes pique your interest, and you happen to hold a degree in geosciences, this could be the job for you.
Annual Salary: USD 58,668
10. Urban Planner
The work of urban planners centres on infrastructure and community, essentially searching for the best ways to accommodate population growth. With limited land at their disposal, planners have to come up with creative solutions alongside local officials to best meet the needs of the community – all whilst considering the social, economic, and environmental impact. Whether it be constructing new roads, schools, or power lines, urban planners play a key role in overseeing the whole building process. However, given that you’ll have to accommodate other people’s busy schedules, it’s a job that often requires you to work outside of the regular 9-5 (but, then again, what job doesn’t in this day and age?).
Annual Salary: USD 56,839
It’s not all that common that you find a job that offers you self-fulfilment, stability, and social impact in one fell swoop. So, if this is a cause you’re truly passionate about, don’t let the idea of a smaller income hold you back – it’s differences like these that truly play a part in granting environmental justice for the world.