Going Green and Getting Dirty

Your mission - should you choose to accept it - is to save the world by improving the environment. You are our only hope: Global warming is melting the polar ice caps, pollution from factories is filling our lungs with chemical gunk, and radioactive waste floats silently below the oceans' surfaces.

If you dream about lush green, urban-free fields, and envision a peaceful and animal-cruelty-free world, then there are degree options for you! For some people, making a difference in the world is gratifying, but there are also many people who are looking for jobs that will help to save the world. This can be accomplished by choosing to make simple changes in your daily life and by choosing a job that will truly make a difference post-graduation. 

So, consider playing a pivotal role in society by choosing a career that takes strides to save the planet:


Botany is a branch of biology that deals with the study of plant life. The study of plants began with tribal lore, thousands of years ago, as many people relied on plant life for food, medicine, and spiritual purposes. In modern times, botanists work with plants for medicinal purposes like caffeine and nicotine. Aspirin, for example, comes from the bark of willow trees. Alcohol comes from fermenting plants like barley malt and grapes.


This position typically requires a bachelor's degree in biological sciences.

Environmental Engineer

Environmental engineer is a big title for a big job. Environmental engineers apply the principals of chemistry, physics, economics, and math to develop safe, economical, and environmentally sound processes in which chemical and/or physical changes take place for the prevention and remediation of environmental problems.


Whew! In short: environmental engineers save the world by figuring out how we can stop disposing of chemicals and ruining the landscape. Environmental engineers monitor air, water, and land quality to protect and restore the environment. They work to reduce soil erosion and water salinity; develop technologies to minimize industrial pollution; clean-up landfill sites; develop environmental management systems; distribute clean, contaminant-free water; construct and manage wastewater treatment facilities; and develop long-range environmental protection plans.


The job requires a bachelor's degree in engineering with at least two to four years of field experience.

Park Naturalist

If you grew up with Smokey the Bear and thought, "Wow, that yellow hat sure looks stylish," perhaps you would thrive as a park naturalist. But park naturalists are far more than forest fire prevention experts; they also serve as writers, teachers, and ecologists.They study natural parks and forests and raise awareness of environmental and natural world issues.


Park naturalists routinely research and develop educational programs for the public. These programs teach visitors about the park's cultural, historical, or environmental history. Moreover, they lead nature walks or recreational programs and visit classrooms to teach children about plants and animals.


In addition, park naturalists study animals and plants. They keep track of the types of animals that live in the park. At larger parks, naturalists can supervise other park staff who work during busy summer seasons. At smaller parks, naturalists may employ the help of volunteers.

This position requires a bachelor's degree and about two to four years of experience in the field.

Environmental Compliance Specialist

An environmental compliance specialist is an individual who makes sure that a particular company or product adheres to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards. A person in this position may work for an organization such as OSHA. An environmental compliance specialist evaluates results and makes recommendations as necessary to maintain compliance with environmental agencies- and if something goes wrong, they work to inform the media and the public of an preventative measures the company is taking to ensure their product or actions are being assessed.


This position requires a bachelor's degree in a related area.

Soil Conversationalist

A soil conversationalist digs identifies any problems with soil erosion and land use through careful scientific study. These professionals literally get down and dirty to develop policies and procedures to control soil moisture and contaminants.Soil conversationalists have a bachelor's degree in agricultural sciences or five years of related experience. They may also have specialization in a field of science such as agronomy, soil science, agriculture, or forestry.

Soil Scientist

Soil scientists differ from soil conversationalists in that they work to investigate, study, and conduct experiments on different plants and soil types to determine the capabilities of soils and the effects of alternative practices on soil productivity.


Soil scientists are engaged  in work that involves direct applications of soil science knowledge. This work is often conducted in coordination with non-soil science professionals. These areas include:


  • Soil systems and soil management research by public and private research institutions for the advancement of soil knowledge.

  • Evaluation and management of soil for land use such as building, landscaping, or agriculture.

  • Natural resource management, including forest soils, environmental endangerment assessments, wetlands, and archaeological sites.

  • Investigation of soils for the application of wastes in a variety of forms, including non-hazardous wastes (residue and sludge management), and the suitability of sites for on-site disposal of waste.

  • Suitability studies for a variety of land development uses, including soil stability, moisture retention or drainage, sustainability, and environmental impact.

  • The regulation of soil and land use by private and public agencies.

  • Oversight of soil used for agriculture and forestry.

This job also involves the application of a wide range of practices, concepts, and procedures in specialized fields of science, such as soil science, agronomy, agriculture, or forestry. A bachelor's degree in agricultural sciences or a related field with at least five years of work experience is required.


Geologists are called the "field hands" of earth science: without ground-based survey that expands on space-based tools, we would have an inaccurate and incomplete view our planet. Geologists study how the dynamic forces which shape our earth work, and use this knowledge to predict their affect on mankind.


Earthquakes, soil erosion, and volcanoes affect all of us: even if a geological event occurs thousands of miles away, we are all affected to an extent. Food grown in Nebraska depends on accurate soil sampling, water drainage information, and land erosion monitoring - which is provided by geologists. Fishermen who experience fish deficiency look to geologists to explain underwater seismic events, silting, or other phenomena.


Geologists also study the affects of internal pressures, water, heat, erosion, and pollution on the planet. Other duties include the estimation of the quality and vastness of the deposits while testing the mineral quality to estimate mining feasibility. To get a job as a geologist, you'll need a bachelor's degree and two to four years of experience in the field or in a related area.

Waste Management Manager

Waste management sounds like a dirty job, but somebody's gotta do it. Waste managers develop and execute procedures for hazardous or contaminated material disposal in accordance with governmental regulations.Waste management managers oversee the design and implementation of waste disposal systems while training in the proper handling and disposal of waste materials. A waste management manager also responsible drafts and updates waste management policy and procedures.


You'd need a bachelor's degree in an area of specialty and five to seven years of experience in the field or in a related area to be a waste management manager.

Environmental Health and Safety Engineer

An environmental, health, and safety engineer makes sure their own company's procedures are not harming the environment. An environmental, health, and safety engineer implements and maintains company policies to adhere to local, state, and federal environmental, health, and safety regulations.


These engineers design and develop work areas and other facilities as well as work procedures, and make environmental, health, and safety recommendations. They also prepare, maintain, and update environmental policy and procedure manuals.


Environmental health engineers make sure their employer is up to code with all relevant health and safety regulations, while staying abreast of law and regulatory changes that impact the organization's activities. This job requires a bachelor's degree in an environmental specialty and about four to seven years of related experience.



A forester manages and develops forest lands and resources for recreational and economic purposes.The basis of study for a forester is silviculture, the science of growing trees, though a forester usually does not breed new strains of trees or study the diseases that affect trees. This type of research falls under plant pathology, plant biology, or genetics. Instead, a forester may specialize in areas such as urban forestry, timber management, forest economics, or wood technology.


This certainly is not a desk job, as most forestry work is done outside, in the field, in all kinds of weather conditions. Some positions or directorships involve work in laboratories and offices. And, as with any science, a bit of math is involved in forestry. Foresters have to estimate the amount of timber in a given area, take measurements of trees, and determine growth or trends in future forest and land use. Foresters also develop harvesting and regeneration plans.


This job generally requires a bachelor's degree in a related area and about seven years of experience in the field.

Any one of these occupations guarantees that your pseudo-hippie-dippie ideals or earnest attempt to save us all can make an impact on the earth. Inquire now about degree paths to earn your mark in these earth-friendly fields.

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