Environmental science is an interdisciplinary field that integrates physical, biological and information sciences to the study of the environment, and the solution of environmental problems. This science includes a host of related fields, such as ecology, biology, physics, chemistry, plant science, zoology, mineralogy, oceanology, limnology (the study of inland waters), soil science, geology, atmospheric science, and geodesy. In essence, this field encompasses the myriad of environmental effects on the human population from agriculture to renewable energy, such as wind and solar.
A bachelor’s degree will emphasize various sciences, for example, biology, chemistry, geology, and physics. In addition, toss in mathematics courses, namely calculus, geometry, and statistics. Due to the diversity of environmental science, many programs offer areas of specialization, such as urban forestry, ecology, climatology, and geology. In a 180 credit hours program, the specialization work may amount to 25-35 credits. Other university programs may have different tracks or concentrations. You may have the option to choose a chemistry, wildlife management, and ecology, or environmental science and policy track. Graduates of a science program may pursue jobs as an environmental consultant, environmental engineer or environmental analyst.
As you begin your research of prospective colleges and universities, you may notice that there are Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in environmental. The B.A. stresses the importance of comprehending basic social, cultural, and scientific theories and understanding how they interact with one another and play an equal part of every environmental issue. Some undergraduate degrees may refer to their program as environmental studies since it is the study of the legal, political, and social aspect of environmental issues.
Arts or Science
The Bachelor of Science takes a more scientific approach to the study of the physical, chemical, and biological effects of environmental risks and challenges. The B.S. major emphasizes subjects in the natural or physical sciences, for examples, biology, earth sciences, math, chemistry, geography, statistics, physics, and biopsychology. Students who complete a science program will be ready to assess environmental issues from multiple perspectives; to perform field, laboratory, and computer analyses; and to conduct original research.
If the sciences and mathematics are your strengths, then a science program may suit you best. If you have the aptitude for the legal process, policy-making, public relations, then the arts degree may be your preference. The B.A. will require the mastery of scientific writing skills necessary to produce research reports. In addition, effective communication skills are essential for sharing information verbally with colleagues and other business associates.
Another consideration when examining this degree is the job prospects and salary potential. Most of the salary data support the profession of an environmental scientist or engineer as the highest paying. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the median salary for Environmental Scientists and Specialists at $68,910 (2016) with a Bachelor’s degree. Other professions ranked high in salary are an environmental biologist and a geologist. However, the list is long for the scientific-minded, as there are the occupations of hydrologist, marine biologist, meteorologist, zoologist, and many more. The aforementioned are specialty degrees, which are under the umbrella of environmental careers. You may elect to pursue one of these at the master’s degree level. One of the higher paying positions is an Environmental Manager, whose pay may exceed $100k, according to Salary.com. This job entails the development and planning of policies and procedures related to air, water, and land systems in accordance with government rules and regulations.
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