What in the World Can I Do With a Major in Environmental Science?

We see many students in Environmental Science who are interested in exploring career options in sustainability, field research, educating others on protecting our world, urban planning and transit…the list goes on. Students who gravitate toward Geography & the Environment in particular have a deep love for giving back, and are often interested in so many different areas that it can be tough to land on just one or two.

The long process of career exploration can be tough, but it has the potential to provide great results. Imagine being able to identify what it is you’re good at, go deeper to get a sense of what speaks to your soul, and share it with the world? With Environmental Science, it’s even more rewarding to see the connection students make between their why (what gets you out of bed in the morning) and their career paths.

Here are a few practical tips, and questions you might want to ask yourself, as you begin to explore your options in Environmental Science.

Start with why

We often will begin career exploration sessions with students by asking them, “What brought you to Environmental Science? Why did you choose to study this field?”

We encourage you to begin asking yourself that question.

What about Environmental Science spoke to you that a major in Biology or Sociology could not?

To go a little bit further, we often suggest that students take some time to look at their full degree audit. Ask yourself:

  • Which courses have I enjoyed most?
  • What is it about those courses (the learning community, the concepts, the programs) that resonated with me?
  • Which courses do I find myself procrastinating for? What am I replacing that time with? Does (some of) it relate back to my major and/or potential interests?
  • What skills am I learning? Which skills do I like learning and practicing?

Research your options

Once you have a decent sense of what drives you in the classroom, you will want to begin identifying career paths that speak to those skills, concepts, and interest areas.

Some resources you may want to explore include:

  • O*NET: A comprehensive database of many occupations. Start with the “Green Economy Sector,” perhaps?
  • Pioneer Careers: Check out the “Research Tools” > “Outcomes Index” tab to look at what DU graduates in recent years have gone on to do, and where they are working

You may also want to look at databases such as GuideStar to identify causes that mean a lot to you, and see where your interest in geography and the environment might intersect with those specific areas. How can you plug in? Talk to someone? Start to volunteer? Apply for an internship with those organizations?

Learning about specific career paths of DU alumni can be another useful strategy in career exploration. Job titles of Environmental Science graduates include:

  • Abandoned Mine Restoration Project Manager
  • Environmental Specialist
  • Hydroponic Intern
  • Recycling Program Administrator
  • Stormwater Manager
  • Sustainability Coordinator/Manager
  • Water Resources Analyst

Get connected!

While the Internet is an excellent way to begin exploring your options, there’s nothing like sitting down for coffee with a sustainability professional to learn more about how they got to where they are today, or to meet a Wilderness Ranger in the backcountry for job shadowing.

There are a ton of ways to get connected with the larger DU community. We recommend starting with Pioneer Connect, a tool specific to DU where alumni sign up and volunteer specific career development resources to current students. But, leverage your network! Chat with professors, peers, upperclassmen, current graduate students about their experiences and why they made the career decisions they did. It’s a great place to begin figuring out where you want to go after life at DU ends.

By Kimberly English
Kimberly English Career Advisor