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Environmental Career Planning for Teens

Oct 18, 2016
Melissa Hincha-Ownby



According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs that fall under the category of Environmental Scientists and Specialists are expected to see an 11 percent growth rate between 2014 and 2024. This is more than the seven percent job growth expected for all occupations combined. These jobs aren’t only growing at an above average rate; they also come with an above average salary. In 2015, the median pay for those who work in the Environmental Scientists and Specialists field was $67,460 per year, compared to the median wage of $36,200 for workers in other occupations. If your teen is interested in a job in the environmental field, check out these environmental career-planning tips for teens.

Research fields of study
Your teen’s first step should be to research the various fields of study that fall under the environmental career umbrella. Have your teen schedule a meeting with the school counselor to discuss options and then use that information to start more in-depth research.

Seek out volunteer opportunities
Once your teen has learned more about the various environmental careers that interest him or her, help him or her figure out how to find volunteer opportunities. From government agencies, like the National Park Service or National Forest Service, to international nonprofit organizations, there are a variety of volunteer opportunities available.

Shadow a professional
Another way to learn about environmental careers is to have your teen shadow a professional. This may require a bit more work on your teen’s part, especially if you don’t have someone in your network or desired field. A good place to start would be an associated member organization for professionals. For example: the Ecological Society of America, the Institution of Environmental Sciences, or the National Association of Environmental Professionals.

Secure an internship
After narrowing down the possible fields of study, start looking into internship opportunities that may be available to high school students. While not all internships come with a paycheck, your teen will be paid in invaluable job experiences.

Research college degree programs
Most environmental careers will require, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree. After your teen has had a chance to research various fields of study, get some volunteer hours in, shadow a professional or secure an internship, he or she needs to start narrowing down colleges that offer a degree program that matches with the environmental career that he or she is interested in.

Do you have a teenager interested in a career in the environmental sciences?

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