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Earning green by working green: Wages and outlook in careers protecting the planet

| April 2019

What’s good for the earth may be good for your earnings. Wages in many occupations related to environmental protection were well above the $38,640 median annual wage for all occupations in 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Chart 1 shows 10 occupations that involve monitoring the environment and preserving natural resources. In some of these occupations, wages were more than twice the overall median. Atmospheric and space scientists had the highest wage of the occupations in the chart, $94,110.

Rapid employment growth is expected over the 2016–26 projections decade in half of these eco-friendly occupations. (See table 1.) But together, the occupations shown in the chart account for less than 1 percent of all jobs in the economy. Environmental scientists and specialists have the most employment; hydrologists have the least. It’s therefore important to consider the average number of openings expected annually.

Table 1.

For example, the occupation of environmental engineering technicians is projected to have the fastest employment growth of all occupations in the table; however, the 1,700 openings projected annually, on average, for that occupation are fewer than half of the 4,000 openings projected for the slower growing forest and conservation technicians.

All of these environmental-protection occupations, except forest and conservation workers, typically require an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree to enter. Learn more about these and other occupations in the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Elka Torpey is an economist in the Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections, BLS. She can be reached at torpey.elka@bls.gov.

Suggested citation:

Elka Torpey, "Earning green by working green: Wages and outlook in careers protecting the planet," Career Outlook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 2019.

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