Is an Environmental Management Degree for You?

An online bachelor’s degree in environmental management is a good fit for people who are concerned about environmental issues, like air quality, global warming, the depletion of limited natural resources, and want to promote a more sustainable future both in their local communities and globally. People who pursue these degrees also tend to be passionate about holding big businesses accountable for any environmental harm they cause, and may push for stronger regulations that would provide greater protections for the environment. They may also be interested in working in the private sector to provide socially responsible leadership, making recommendations as to how an organization can be sustainable and profitable at the same time.

Advice for Earning Your Environmental Management Degree Online

While online learning is ideal for independent learners, this doesn’t mean students will always be able to grasp everything on their own. To be successful, online students must not only take initiative to learn concepts on their own, but must also ask for help when they need it, so that they do not needlessly fall behind in class.

Students who are new to online learning should avail themselves of their college’s online writing center and online tutoring resources, and also take advantage of their professors’ online office hours. Finally, when choosing an online environmental management degree, look for programs where internships in environmental management are required or encouraged, as work experience will help you more easily get a foot in the door of a career after graduation.

Required Courses

Environmental management is an interdisciplinary discipline, and course work will explore natural and environmental science, the social issues leading to environmental damage, environmental law and policy, and the types of technology that environmental managers use to come up with strategies to mitigate environmental harm. Such degree programs typically conclude with a capstone course in which students are challenged to identify a real-world environmental concern and develop a comprehensive plan to address that concern. Courses you may encounter in an environmental management degree program include:

  • Environmental Health
  • Environmental Technology
  • Occupational Health & Safety
  • Pollution Prevention Strategies
  • Natural Resources Management

Common Career Paths

Environmental management majors may pursue a variety of rewarding careers after graduation. Salaries in these fields vary greatly depending on your level of experience, your roles and responsibilities, and the region of the country you live in. Possible career fields include (but are not limited to):

Environmental Compliance Manager

  • Expected Growth: N/A
  • Average Annual Salary: $60,000 to $108,000

Environmental compliance managers oversee efforts to ensure that organizations are abiding by local, state, and federal environmental laws and regulations. They analyze compliance documents and prepare comprehensive reports on an organization’s environmental impact for companies and regulatory agencies, according to an occupational guide on this career prepared by the California Employment Development Department (CEDD).

A bachelor’s degree in a relevant area, such as one of the natural sciences or environmental science or management, is typical of such positions, and experience in the field of environmental compliance is also important, the guide explained. While nationwide employment growth in the field has not been projected, the salary figure above, drawn from the CEDD, gives you an idea of the salary range available in this field.

Range Manager

  • Expected Growth: 5%
  • Average Annual Salary: $63,590

Range managers are responsible for managing and protecting natural resources, but particularly rangelands, which are concentrated in the western U.S. and Alaska. They come up with strategies on how rangelands can be protected while at the same time maximizing their recreational use.

A bachelor’s degree in a relevant area like environmental science, rangeland management, forestry, or a related field (like environmental management) is typically required for such a position, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The above employment growth projection and salary average for conservation scientists and foresters, which includes range managers, were provided by the BLS.

Forester

  • Expected Growth: 5%
  • Average Annual Salary: $57,140

Foresters manage national forests and supervise the recreational, conservational, and environmental activities within them. They work to keep forests sustainable by devising and implementing plans to protect land while still making it profitable and open for recreational use. Foresters also lead efforts to prevent the forest fires. A bachelor’s degree in forestry or a related area, such as environmental management, is typical for such a profession, the BLS explained. The above job outlook and salary average are available through the BLS.

Soil and Water Conservationist

  • Expected Growth: 5%
  • Average Annual Salary: $63,590

Soil and water conservationists provide technical assistance to government agencies, forest managers, farmers, and ranchers. They are responsible for designing programs for productive land usage that does not harm the environment, helping landowners with erosion problems and giving advice on how to preserve a clean and healthy water supply. As with other subcategories of careers in conservation science and forestry, soil and water conservation typically requires a bachelor’s degree in a relevant area. The above job growth projection and salary average for conservation scientists and foresters, which includes soil and water conservationists, is available through the BLS.

Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) Manager

  • Expected Growth: N/A
  • Average Annual Salary: $79,163

EHS managers develop programs, policies, and procedures to make sure a company is abiding by all applicable health, safety, and environmental regulations. The make recommendations to a company’s management team on new regulations, how they will impact the company, and any changes that need to be made in light of those regulations. EHS managers also set goals for improving an organization’s health, safety, and environmental sustainability and track a company’s progress toward meeting those goals.

A cursory overview of job listings in the field revealed a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering, environmental science, occupational safety, or a related area was required for most positions, along with experience in an industrial or regulatory setting. The median salary provided above is based on limited information submitted to online compensation site PayScale.com and is current as of April 2013.

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