Bureau of Labor Statistics

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.

View Chart Data

Chart 1. Wages and employment in selected environmental-protection occupations, 2018
Occupation Median annual wage, 2018 Employment, 2018

Atmospheric and space scientists

$94,110 9,310

Environmental engineers

87,620 53,070

Hydrologists

79,370 6,290

Environmental scientists and specialists, including health

71,130 80,480

Soil and plant scientists

63,950 15,010

Conservation scientists

61,310 22,200

Environmental engineering technicians

50,560 17,310

Environmental science and protection technicians, including health

46,170 32,600

Forest and conservation technicians

37,180 30,220

Forest and conservation workers

27,460 7,510

Note: Data do not include self-employed workers.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics

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.

View Chart Data

Table 1. Job outlook in selected environmental-protection occupations

Employment growth and change rate, projected 2016–26; occupational openings, projected 2016–26 annual average;  and typical entry-level education

Occupation Employment growth, projected, 2016–26 Percent change in employment, projected 2016–26 Annual average openings, projected 2016–26 Typical entry-level education

Atmospheric and space scientists

Faster than average 12% 900 Bachelor's degree

Environmental engineers

Average 8 4,000 Bachelor's degree

Hydrologists

Faster than average 10 700 Bachelor's degree

Environmental scientists and specialists, including health

Faster than average 11 9,500 Bachelor's degree

Soil and plant scientists

Average 9 2,200 Bachelor's degree

Conservation scientists

Average 6 2,000 Bachelor's degree

Environmental engineering technicians

Faster than average 13 1,700 Associate's degree

Environmental science and protection technicians, including health

Faster than average 12 4,600 Associate's degree

Forest and conservation technicians

Slower than average 4 4,000 Associate's degree

Forest and conservation workers

Decline -2 2,100 High school diploma or equivalent

Note: None of these occupations typically requires work experience in a related occupation for entry. Forest and conservation workers typically requires moderate-term on-the-job training for workers to attain competency; none of the other occupations typically requires on-the-job training.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections.

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.

About the Author

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

Download Article

PDF Print
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.

Telephone: 1-202-691-5700 www.bls.gov/careeroutlook Contact Career Outlook

View this page on regular www.bls.gov

Permanently disable mobile site