Should college student major in environmental science?

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Wenonah
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Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by Wenonah » Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:13 am

I am trying to convince a 28 year old acquaintance who is a crazy good amateur birder/botanist and has volunteer jobs in such areas, that she should finish getting her 4 year degree. She has her AA (two year) degree and can transfer anywhere. She basically has a minimum wage job, but is wondering if she should major in what she loves (environmental science).

As a mom whose son majored in ES and is now getting a degree in data analytics (due to a lack of jobs much over minimum wage) I am worried about her choice and how to encourage her. Any advice from anyone with knowledge in science/naturalist/environmental work areas?? And if she majored in ES, what minor do you recommend? (P.S. I am a teacher, who should have gone into career counseling, and alas, she does not want to be a teacher.)

rj342
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by rj342 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:30 am

IMO you need to simultaneously approach it from "what other more marketable majors, possibly related, are out there, that she might enjoy/be good at, even if not her main passion? One way to look at it... ending up with a reasonable paying day job can better fund her passion projects on the side.

Environmental education? Veterinary Science? Heck, Animal Husbandry in a school of Agriculture?

IMO the common "follow your passion" by itself is poor advice. There are plenty of things people can be passionate about which just arent marketable... or they just may not be that great at it even though they love it (hint: hobby not a career). Of course it is true that only studying something for money's sake is also a problem, many fields are too tough a slog if you lack the interest or the knack.

If she is absolutely committed to staying in the area she loves, then there is a different calculation... is expense of the 4 year degree given possibly dim prospects worth it if she ends up making little more than she does now?

Finally, wrt either a BS in ES or something, also needs to look before leapingvto manage expectations on the actual utility of her existing AA in letting her parachute into the last two years of the major, whether in terms of her having transferable credits actually relevant to the target major, or being adequately prepared to be successful, regardless of credits transfered. IOW it's not just credit hours but having the right credits. If she has to 3 years for the BS, that's more expense.

Or maybe she does ES BS regardless, but goes in with eyes open. A fair number of people are happy to be struggling musicians or starving artists, etc without ever having that big break. But know and own the tradeoffs.

One thing I don't think you mentioned is if she has/wants kids, or has a husband... affects those tradeoffs if she has to be the breadwinner and not just for herself.
Last edited by rj342 on Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:38 am, edited 2 times in total.

adamthesmythe
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by adamthesmythe » Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:33 am

What RJ said.

Anyone who is 28 has had time to find herself. Now it's time to think about making a living. Spend money on education only if there is a reasonable prospect of a better job.

fru-gal
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by fru-gal » Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:34 am

How about being a forest ranger? That seems to require at least an undergraduate degree in a pertinent field, average pay $57,000 according to the web. Don't know what the job availability is. I just throw this out there because it's my dream job :-)

rj342
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by rj342 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:39 am

I added a few "cousin" majors/jobs above.
I have known some ES type people who got jobs doing soil and/or water sample collection and testing for industry EPA compliance. Not real sexy, but might get her outside some. Not great pay but maybe better than what she can draw now.

stoptothink
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by stoptothink » Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:43 am

fru-gal wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:34 am
How about being a forest ranger? That seems to require at least an undergraduate degree in a pertinent field, average pay $57,000 according to the web. Don't know what the job availability is. I just throw this out there because it's my dream job :-)
I have a former co-worker that has become a forest ranger at Olympic National Park in Washington. It was a long and competitive process. She did several un and low-paid internships before she finally got her first full-time job this past year, like 6yrs after finishing her degree. These internships were also out of state (she is married) and for her first actual job she had to move from Utah to Washington and her husband is still in Utah because he can't find a job close to her.
Last edited by stoptothink on Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

alex_686
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by alex_686 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:44 am

fru-gal wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:34 am
How about being a forest ranger? That seems to require at least an undergraduate degree in a pertinent field, average pay $57,000 according to the web. Don't know what the job availability is. I just throw this out there because it's my dream job :-)
Extortionately hard to get. Very few slots - they only open up when rangers retire, and that is often age related. I have known people who basically volunteered for years to buff up their resume.
Last edited by alex_686 on Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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funktor
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by funktor » Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:48 am

I know two ES majors. One became a science teacher, the other works in Human Resources. Neither could find a job "In the field". YMMV
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Topic Author
Wenonah
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by Wenonah » Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:33 am

Good thoughts all. Thanks. Also, she is single and self sufficient if that helps anyone's thoughts.

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scubadiver
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by scubadiver » Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:11 pm

If a friend or family member were to ask me, I would strongly discourage them from pursuing a degree in environmental science.

Rather, I would encourage the individual to study something that builds a broad foundational skill set, e.g., chemistry or civil engineering. If said individual was passionate about environmental issues they could then pursue internship opportunities or related employment gigs that may allow them to parlay that degree into a position in their desired profession, but still have alternate and likely more viable career opportunities.

Capricorn51
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by Capricorn51 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:19 pm

Environmental engineering or
Public health

both can lead to marketable credentials

John88
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by John88 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:20 pm

Many years ago my brother changed majors from business to ES, all his jobs were in the field and now he's an EHS manager at a Utility company with I think 160k + salary, a 9/80 schedule with every other Friday off

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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by Sandtrap » Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:42 pm

Nephew graduated with a degree in ES.
No jobs.
Went back as a Pre-Med Major.
Is now an Internist (MD) in private practice.

Son's best friend. "Finally" graduating with a MS in ES. Took 8+ years, part time work/school, no loans.
He loves the field of ES and will survive in what jobs he can get.

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Watty
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by Watty » Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:24 pm

I know someone that is working in that field and making good money. I don't know exactly what her degree is in but it is something like environmental science and she might have picked up a masters somewhere along the way.

Anyway she works for a big oil company usually dealing with environmental issues after the fact when there is a problem. My impression is that she sincerely cares about the environment but in her job she is representing the companies interests and trying to minimize the costs. When she travels it is often to places like a refinery and not some pristine wilderness. She does not talk about her actual work much but part of that may be that there are so many ongoing legal issues that it would be inappropriate for her to talk about.

I would suspect that a lot of the environmental science jobs, and the better paying ones, involve working for industrial companies like that.

umfan11244
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by umfan11244 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:34 pm

I know one person with this degree. He counts fledglings for $12/hr. I didn’t know what a fledging was, that you needed a degree to count them, or that it paid $12/hr until I met him.

To put this in perspective - a one year welding program in my area can bring an entry wage of $50-60k.

wilked
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by wilked » Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:39 pm

Env Eng. if she can’t hack the course load I would choose something non environmental.

JPM
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by JPM » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:36 pm

Two old guys. One collected water samples for the EPA and retired with a nice government pension. He liked the outdoor work when young but health issues developed in middle age and had to go to indoor work. Marked time until the pension.
Second worked in compliance for steel mfg when young, later a DC lobbyist for the steel industry on environmental issues. Very good income and happy life.
Young one worked on environmental impact matters for road builder and hated it. Worked for awhile for a local parks and recreation operation. Plans to go for a PhD and teach enviroscience.

Sounds to me like the field has become crowded and well paying jobs are scarce now.

Cruz
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by Cruz » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:53 pm

I'm of similar age to your acquiatance and majored in environmental studies as an undergrad and also have a masters in biology. I have been able to find jobs that I think pay well for the field. Environmental science/studies is generally very interdisciplinary and can set someone up well for a wide range of careers in science, policy, resource management...etc. whether working in a state or federal agency, NGO, academia, or private. A useful minor would be in something quantitive if that is something she is remotely interested in. Happy to share my experience and talk further if you want to DM me.

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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by Glockenspiel » Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:18 pm

I’m a civil engineer and I frequently work with environmental scientists. Consulting engineering firms frequently hire environmental scientists to help their clients through the NEPA process, environmental permitting, wetland delineations, tree inventories, threatened and endangered species identification, environmental impact statement work, etc. I would encourage GIS skills or classes.

There is a job market for environmental scientists and they CAN make pretty good money if they develop into a consultant that does good work and can maintain client relationships. Starting wages in my company for these type of people is around $20-$25/hour with top end around $80-100k after 15-20 years. I’d look at large engineering firms with specialties in environmental or development work, for jobs.

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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by Glockenspiel » Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:21 pm

Watty wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:24 pm
I know someone that is working in that field and making good money. I don't know exactly what her degree is in but it is something like environmental science and she might have picked up a masters somewhere along the way.

Anyway she works for a big oil company usually dealing with environmental issues after the fact when there is a problem. My impression is that she sincerely cares about the environment but in her job she is representing the companies interests and trying to minimize the costs. When she travels it is often to places like a refinery and not some pristine wilderness. She does not talk about her actual work much but part of that may be that there are so many ongoing legal issues that it would be inappropriate for her to talk about.

I would suspect that a lot of the environmental science jobs, and the better paying ones, involve working for industrial companies like that.
In general I agree that a lot of the job market is in helping companies (industrial, residential, commercial development) navigate permitting. In other words, helping companies do the least amount, while still getting permit acceptance.

bikesandbeers
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by bikesandbeers » Fri Aug 09, 2019 12:24 am

I work with a lot of environmental scientists doing technical work and who are paid well. Where the job issues come in is if you are an environmental studies BA degree without any hard skills. No one pays you just to wander around in nature.

I'd advise folks to take a look at jobs and think about what you'd actually be doing. Do you like taking water samples? Do you want to do GHG accounting? there are a variety of public, private a non-profit jobs available. You will want to tend towards public if you don't want to be working on behalf of polluters looking simply for environmental compliance. Non-profits can be all over the place.

Check out professional orgs like the Assocication of Environmental Professionals.

https://www.naep.org/

megabad
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by megabad » Fri Aug 09, 2019 12:34 am

Wenonah wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:13 am
I am trying to convince a 28 year old acquaintance who is a crazy good amateur birder/botanist and has volunteer jobs in such areas, that she should finish getting her 4 year degree. She has her AA (two year) degree and can transfer anywhere. She basically has a minimum wage job, but is wondering if she should major in what she loves (environmental science).

As a mom whose son majored in ES and is now getting a degree in data analytics (due to a lack of jobs much over minimum wage) I am worried about her choice and how to encourage her. Any advice from anyone with knowledge in science/naturalist/environmental work areas?? And if she majored in ES, what minor do you recommend? (P.S. I am a teacher, who should have gone into career counseling, and alas, she does not want to be a teacher.)
What does she want out of college and how much will it cost? If she loves ES and is willing to sacrifice just to learn about it, then that is one thing. If she only wants this to be financially advantageous than that is quite another. You mentioned "science" area as well. Science is a very broad field that could incorporate much more than the environment and might expand future opportunities a little more if she chooses a foundational subject like Biology, Chemistry, or Physics. But it is not clear if she has any interest in this.

itsf8
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by itsf8 » Fri Aug 09, 2019 12:53 am

Consider an undergraduate Environmental & Occupational health major, sometimes under public health. There's also a grad level MS where partial tuition grant funding is sometime available through NIOSH, assuming federal funds continue this support. The major is broad and one can eventually get an industrial hygenist license as an option. Person would need to enjoy the sciences (chemistry, biology...) If in NY, 2-3 public CUNY schools have the major at undergrad level, and the CUNY School of Public Health has it at the graduate level. In North Carolina, UNC but there are many other national schools.

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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by RetiredAL » Fri Aug 09, 2019 1:07 am

My daughter is a Range Land Biologist with the NRCS, Dept of Agriculture. To be successful in her field, she had to get her Masters. Her Master's Thesis was on Sage Grouse and their habitat.

We have an acquaintance whose son wanted to be a Park Ranger. Getting a year-round job after completing college was tough, until he got firearm certified, then doors were opened.

So my advise to her is to the thoroughly understand early in the process as to what is really needed to be successful in the ES specialty she chooses.

Tool-Time
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by Tool-Time » Fri Aug 09, 2019 4:58 am

An environmental major often does not always parallel interests in botany/nature. Take a look at the job offerings for environmental jobs, that may not appeal to her. Also count on getting a masters.

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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by Bacchus01 » Fri Aug 09, 2019 5:51 am

I would first not focus as much on the $$ aspects of the job provided she can go to school relatively cheaply. Not every degree requires $50K/year in college fees. Make a solid school choice.

I’m also not a big fan of highly specialized degrees because of this very issue. The field choices often become very narrow and the job pool is small. I’d look at the ES degree requirements and find out where the classes have the highest overlap with a more general degree, like chemistry or biology, or sometimes in engineering programs like chemical or mechanical engineering. Take as many of the ES courses as she can within the major and as electives. Opens up lots more job prospects while having the focus she enjoys.

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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Fri Aug 09, 2019 6:20 am

My first question would be: "Are you sure her associates courses will transfer for credit?". Perhaps they will. I would absolutely not assume they will. I have an associates and when I went back for my bachelor's, only one course (english comp) transferred.
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StandingRock
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by StandingRock » Fri Aug 09, 2019 6:26 am

I have some old and new friends who are park rangers. They didn't get into it to become rich.

alfaspider
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by alfaspider » Fri Aug 09, 2019 6:54 am

Career path of an environmental science major I knew from college: Environmental economics masters (was PHD track but decided to leave). Went to wind energy company doing finance, then to a utility on the power procurement side, now does power procurement for Amazon. I get the impression it’s a very lucrative gig.

ernieM
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by ernieM » Fri Aug 09, 2019 7:02 am

FWIW, our University basically did away with the ES Department over 20 years ago...it was 'absorbed' by another school, as there was simply not enough interest to support both programs. Back then we were a smaller school....but have grown immensely and are now in the 'large University' range. IMHO, ES is too broad a field in these times...i.e., most folks in that area specialize in some related aspect (biological sciences, geological sciences, etc.......for the record, I'm a recently retired University Prof....Biological Sciences). Your acquaintance already has interest in botany/ornithology, but it's not clear if that's just a hobby or a potential lifelong pursuit. She has to figure that out first. If her interest lies in the biological sciences (botany, animal sciences, etc.) there are programs that could provide plenty of field work [and might provide graduate assistantships]. Bear in mind that much of the biological sciences now involves at least some molecular work. And, yes, I agree with a few of the other posters that a graduate degree would likely be necessary.

All that said, my 'dream job' in high school was to be a forest ranger [the Range Land Biologist another poster mentioned sounds like a great career]. Somehow folks discouraged me from going that route....will never know if that was the right decision, but I don't regret the road I've traveled.....doesn't stop me from exploring nature on my own time (esp. now that I have more of the latter!).

Winston19
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by Winston19 » Fri Aug 09, 2019 7:28 am

I work for a wastewater utility and we have environmental scientists working in various areas water quality etc. Though we have more and better paid jobs for engineers.

rj342
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by rj342 » Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:26 am

StandingRock wrote:
Fri Aug 09, 2019 6:26 am
I have some old and new friends who are park rangers. They didn't get into it to become rich.
Regardless of $$, how hard was it to land the gig?

rj342
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by rj342 » Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:28 am

alfaspider wrote:
Fri Aug 09, 2019 6:54 am
Career path of an environmental science major I knew from college: Environmental economics masters (was PHD track but decided to leave). Went to wind energy company doing finance, then to a utility on the power procurement side, now does power procurement for Amazon. I get the impression it’s a very lucrative gig.
Which sounds utterly nothing like what the OPs friend likes.


I think people are also too casually tossing around "engineer" suggestions -- nothing in the OP remotely suggests the friend is anywhere near having the math background (much less the all important knack/inclination) for it.

I say that as someone who has a BS in Mech ENgr, an MS in CS, and taught programming to engineering students at a university for 6 years as an instructor -- and saw how the junior college transfers di (or rather generally *didn't*) in the CS program.
Sad how many of them would need two years of math prereqs to just get to real calculus -- assuming they were even actually capable. Almost all gave up.

dbr
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by dbr » Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:36 am

Wenonah wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:13 am
I am trying to convince a 28 year old acquaintance who is a crazy good amateur birder/botanist and has volunteer jobs in such areas, that she should finish getting her 4 year degree. She has her AA (two year) degree and can transfer anywhere. She basically has a minimum wage job, but is wondering if she should major in what she loves (environmental science).
This person might be better off with a major in biology or a related subfield. A critical question is whether or not a graduate degree is being contemplated. I admit to not being up to speed in the relationship between undergraduate majors and real jobs, but I would be concerned that nothing more than a BA/BS in "environmental science" may not be very helpful. I see a lot of instances where the actual entree to anything either interesting or well paying is a graduate degree. The exceptions are professional degrees such as engineering, accounting, teaching, etc., which an undergraduate major in environment science is not. Even in those field many or even most people sooner or later acquire at least Masters credentials.

rj342
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by rj342 » Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:39 am

Bacchus01 wrote:
Fri Aug 09, 2019 5:51 am
...
I’m also not a big fan of highly specialized degrees because of this very issue. The field choices often become very narrow and the job pool is small. ...
I'm reminded about this graduation "speech" that talks about being "upwind" in college

http://www.paulgraham.com/hs.html

StandingRock
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by StandingRock » Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:45 am

rj342 wrote:
Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:26 am
StandingRock wrote:
Fri Aug 09, 2019 6:26 am
I have some old and new friends who are park rangers. They didn't get into it to become rich.
Regardless of $$, how hard was it to land the gig?
I would have to ask them, but I don't think it was especially difficult. This is not Yosemite or Yellowstone we are talking about though. I also have some buddies in the Forest Service. I know a couple of them got degrees in natural resources management or whatever. It's not rocket science. But again if you're trying to get rich you probably want to go into something else.

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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by mariezzz » Fri Aug 09, 2019 1:52 pm

Wenonah wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:33 am
Good thoughts all. Thanks. Also, she is single and self sufficient if that helps anyone's thoughts.
Having a 4 year college degree with any major is going to help her on the job market. Lots of employers find majors within departments that are typically within the 'liberal arts' realm to be very useful. If hard working, those people tend to be much more flexible in their thinking and ability to take on a range of duties over time, plus they often have better communication and interpersonal skills. Those traits matter a lot in most jobs.

Keep in mind: she still has to get credits the equivalent of 2 years of college to get a BA/BS. She could choose a major that will make her even more attractive on the job market AND take a few classes pertaining to environmental science OR get a minor. She could also get something like a biology major, which should be fairly marketable, and within that, concentrate on environmental science. Different schools have courses and majors organized differently - but it shouldn't be too much of a stretch to major in biology and take a number of environmental science classes, either to get a major, or a concentration, or just to be able to tell potential employees you've had classes in that realm (if it matters for a given position).

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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by rupalb9 » Mon Aug 12, 2019 11:27 am

I encouraged my son to major in environmental science because I believed that it would be easier for him to handle than other harder disciplines. He did not have much success finding jobs in his field after graduation.
After almost a year of unemployment, he started taking unpaid positions at small, unfunded start-ups and started auditing computer science classes at a local university.
He has now been working as a software engineer for close to a decade.

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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by GerryL » Mon Aug 12, 2019 11:43 am

Glockenspiel wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:18 pm
I’m a civil engineer and I frequently work with environmental scientists. Consulting engineering firms frequently hire environmental scientists to help their clients through the NEPA process, environmental permitting, wetland delineations, tree inventories, threatened and endangered species identification, environmental impact statement work, etc. I would encourage GIS skills or classes.

There is a job market for environmental scientists and they CAN make pretty good money if they develop into a consultant that does good work and can maintain client relationships. Starting wages in my company for these type of people is around $20-$25/hour with top end around $80-100k after 15-20 years. I’d look at large engineering firms with specialties in environmental or development work, for jobs.
This was my brother's field. After working for the feds for a number of years he switched teams and worked for a consultant before launching his own consulting company, which was very successful. (He is now retired.)
My nephew, who worked at his dad's company, is just finishing up a masters in environmental science.

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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by ohai » Mon Aug 12, 2019 12:01 pm

I'd encourage the person to get a college degree, but perhaps in something more versatile than environmental science.

Whimsically pursuing interests is for people in the top of their fields. For most other people, degrees have to be practical and grounded to be really useful.

Glenn
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by Glenn » Mon Aug 12, 2019 12:50 pm

In my professorial days, I dealt with ES students. They were enthusiastic naturalists; often are great people. Unfortunately, the job outlook for any science B.S. is not terribly bright. You really need an advanced degree. Wildlife biology majors can get jobs, often, but they're at the most menial level...usually forever.

A 28 year old should be sufficiently mature to actually make a realistic evaluation of job prospects from the web and talking to faculty. If she still wants to do it, I'd say go for it.

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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by deikel » Mon Aug 12, 2019 12:59 pm

rj342 wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:30 am

IMO the common "follow your passion" by itself is poor advice.

I think 'follow your passion' is always good advice, simply because it gives you the motivation to keep on going and not quit quite so easily when it gets harder.

The OP talks about a 28 yr old that has an AA degree and works minimum paid jobs right now - almost anything would be an improvement I believe and it seems to indicate a lack of drive in general.

I would go for the next two year education to be something this person really cares for and is passionate about. In those two years of courses and work some new things might pop up that lead to a better job or prospect. And even if not, the person then has a degree and hopefully gained confidence from it (if that is an issue).

Following a plan that includes 'making bucks' for another 40 years is very much 'boomer style thinking' that does not work well these days anymore (both by job opportunities and desire/drive of people).
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by scubadiver » Mon Aug 12, 2019 1:10 pm

deikel wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 12:59 pm
The OP talks about a 28 yr old that has an AA degree and works minimum paid jobs right now - almost anything would be an improvement I believe and it seems to indicate a lack of drive in general.
Maybe I'm in a minority here, but $50K in student loan debt that cannot be readily discharged in bankruptcy and going back to working a minimum wage job due to a poor choice of degree program would not be an improvement, IMHO.
deikel wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 12:59 pm
Following a plan that includes 'making bucks' for another 40 years is very much 'boomer style thinking' that does not work well these days anymore (both by job opportunities and desire/drive of people).
I'm not sure what 'boomer style thinking' refers to other than a week attempt to discredit an opposing position with an ad hominem attack. And I don't see any posts in this thread guaranteeing 40 years if job stability if one pursues a particular degree program. In any event, solid job prospects for the first 4 years after completing a degree program are not an unreasonable expectation.

Scubadiver (Gen-X)

deikel
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by deikel » Mon Aug 12, 2019 1:27 pm

scubadiver wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 1:10 pm
deikel wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 12:59 pm
The OP talks about a 28 yr old that has an AA degree and works minimum paid jobs right now - almost anything would be an improvement I believe and it seems to indicate a lack of drive in general.
Maybe I'm in a minority here, but $50K in student loan debt that cannot be readily discharged in bankruptcy and going back to working a minimum wage job due to a poor choice of degree program would not be an improvement, IMHO.
deikel wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 12:59 pm
Following a plan that includes 'making bucks' for another 40 years is very much 'boomer style thinking' that does not work well these days anymore (both by job opportunities and desire/drive of people).
I'm not sure what 'boomer style thinking' refers to other than a week attempt to discredit an opposing position with an ad hominem attack. And I don't see any posts in this thread guaranteeing 40 years if job stability if one pursues a particular degree program. In any event, solid job prospects for the first 4 years after completing a degree program are not an unreasonable expectation.

Scubadiver (Gen-X)
The OP does not mention anything about student loans, so I am not sure where that came in other then an assumption of yours.

The 'boomer style thinking' is not discrediting anyone, its a fact that different generations think very different about jobs, money from jobs and the meaning of jobs and money in general. If you consider motivation as a very important factor in life, then these differences in attitude matter and advice not taking it into account might not be useful.

There are plenty of books to read about Millennials, but these books are most interesting when they compare work ethics and attitudes to previous generations including great generation, boomers, z and y (and no, its not all bad) - some of the differences are 'earning your dues', 'doing a job for the money', ' working for one employer for life' ect.

Nothing wrong to pay attention to marketable skills, but you need to find motivation first is all I am saying
Everything you read in this post is my personal opinion. If you disagree with this disclaimer, please un-read the text immediately and destroy any copy or remembrance of it.

Glenn
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by Glenn » Mon Aug 12, 2019 1:45 pm

Following a plan that includes 'making bucks' for another 40 years is very much 'boomer style thinking' that does not work well these days anymore (both by job opportunities and desire/drive of people).
My initial response to this was a collection of nonconstructive personality judgements. However, I read the quote to my wife and she is still laughing. "boomer style thinking" includes all those 60's types!

This boomer got his B.S. and Ph.D because he just wanted to find out about things he was interested in. It was fun and internally rewarding. I didn't expect that I'd actually make a good living at it, and thought it likely that I'd end up an electrician (my dad was IBEW) or working for my father-in-law the painting contractor. As it turned out, I had a great, life-long career doing just what I wanted. 34 years, not 40, because I made enough money to retire early and spend time wandering around wild places in the world.

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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by JediMisty » Mon Aug 12, 2019 1:55 pm

I am near retirement in the environmental field. Absent working for big business helping with permitting, the jobs are scarce. It was a booming field in 1980 when I started working, but has been circling the drain since the early ninties.

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scubadiver
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by scubadiver » Mon Aug 12, 2019 5:11 pm

deikel wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 1:27 pm
The OP does not mention anything about student loans, so I am not sure where that came in other then an assumption of yours.
To your point, I did assume that a 28 year old in a minimum wage job is going to have a hard time cash-flowing tuition and living expenses while attending a 4-year institution. That's not to say that it can't be done. Just that I have my doubts this will be one of those instances.
deikel wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 1:27 pm
The 'boomer style thinking' is not discrediting anyone, its a fact that different generations think very different about jobs, money from jobs and the meaning of jobs and money in general. If you consider motivation as a very important factor in life, then these differences in attitude matter and advice not taking it into account might not be useful.

There are plenty of books to read about Millennials, but these books are most interesting when they compare work ethics and attitudes to previous generations including great generation, boomers, z and y (and no, its not all bad) - some of the differences are 'earning your dues', 'doing a job for the money', ' working for one employer for life' ect.
Again, I don't get your obsession with generalizations about various age cohorts. The entirety of people between the ages of 20 and 38 are not making a collective decision here.
deikel wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 1:27 pm
Nothing wrong to pay attention to marketable skills, but you need to find motivation first is all I am saying
A perfectly legitimate point.

By the way, the desire to have a fulfilling and personally rewarding career is not unique to any one age cohort.

chemocean
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by chemocean » Mon Aug 12, 2019 8:24 pm

I am one of those who rode the wave of the environmental movement when RCRA and Superfund were highly funded in the 1980s. So, the job prospects of the older folks mentioned in the some of the post were much more favorable than those students graduating now. In my last ten years, I was a supervisor of an environmental group. In the 2000s, I was only able to hire only one of the 10 college Environmental Scientist interns as a permanent employee. The one master's intern was able to get a job with the a local health department. In addition, much of routine environmental sampling is now being conducted my volunteer programs. Only the highly sophisticated sampling and analysis (organics and mercury) is performed exclusively by the professionals. With just a bachelor's decree, the graduate will be washing bottles in the lab or sampling in 10 degree weather for 12 hours a day. To be given the opportunity to engage in meaningful and rewarding work requiring analysis of data, an advanced degree with a high level of scientific and mathematical skills would be an advantage.

As someone suggested, a GIS certification is very versatile and could be used for variety of purposes including environmental sciences, planning, transportation and health needs. In the career of a student graduating in the next few years, the graduate needs to be well positioned to deal with the impacts of climate change: changes in water supply, sea level elevation on the coasts, wildfires, and changes in agricultural conditions. Since much of the environmental science originates from the federal government and is passed to the state and local governments, the uncertainty of the political climate will be hard to plan for.

rj342
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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by rj342 » Mon Aug 12, 2019 11:22 pm

deikel wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 12:59 pm
rj342 wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:30 am

IMO the common "follow your passion" by itself is poor advice.

I think 'follow your passion' is always good advice, simply because it gives you the motivation to keep on going and not quit quite so easily when it gets harder.

The OP talks about a 28 yr old that has an AA degree and works minimum paid jobs right now - almost anything would be an improvement I believe and it seems to indicate a lack of drive in general.

I would go for the next two year education to be something this person really cares for and is passionate about. In those two years of courses and work some new things might pop up that lead to a better job or prospect. And even if not, the person then has a degree and hopefully gained confidence from it (if that is an issue).

Following a plan that includes 'making bucks' for another 40 years is very much 'boomer style thinking' that does not work well these days anymore (both by job opportunities and desire/drive of people).
Nuance much?
I said "by itself" (meaning without regard to other peoples use for it, or your actual talent level). I also said that choosing a path only because of possible money is bad too, as that is likely too hard just on a cold calculation. "Passion" *by itself* is how you end up with English majors with $100k debts from third string liberal arts colleges and zero prospects.

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Re: Should college student major in environmental science?

Post by msk » Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:57 am

What about Earth System Science, including ES (her passion) and something extra in Geology or Geomechanics as a back-up wage earner. By the way, McGill U in Canada has suitable programs that include a summer in Barbados (courses co-run with the U of West Indies at the McGill Bellairs Research Institute). I know a few kids who spent the summer there and it was THE high point of their young lives. But then, would anyone complain of a summer in Barbados and earning 15 credit hours?

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