Environmental science is the science of the interactions between the physical, chemical, and biological components of the environment, including their effects on all types of organisms but more often refers to human impact on the environment.

It is an interdisciplinary area of study that applies knowledge from other scientific and social disciplines. Basic physics is used to understand material and energy transfers. Chemistry is essential to understanding the components that drive changes to each part of the environment, as well as the entire environmental system. Environmental science also relies on other disciplines, such as the social sciences, environmental law, and economics to address the interactions between humans and the natural environment.

Significantly, it is important to distinguish between "environmental science" and "ecology": the two disciplines embody very different foci of investigation. TOP


Many environmental scientists do work and have training that is similar to other physical or life scientists, but applied to environmental areas (U. S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2004-2005 Edition, They may specialize in areas such as environmental ecology and conservation, environmental biology, environmental chemistry, or geoscientist. The common tread for environmental scientists, what ever the area of specialization, is that they deal with the social, political, and ethical movements of the environment. For example, an environmental ecologist not only studies the relationships between organisms and their environment, as ecologists do, but looks at the influences of such things as pollutants, changes in temperature, and rainfall on the organisms. Environmental chemists may study the toxicity of various chemicals on plants, animals - including humans. Geoscientists study the composition, structure, and other physical aspects of the Earth and water.

 A great link to the various environmental career categories can be found at



There are three major areas which employ environmental scientists - the public sector, private sector, and non-profit organizations.

I. Public Sector

    A. Federal agencies

        1. U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (

        2 . Environmental Protection Agency (

        3. U. S. Forest Service (

        4.  Bureau of Land Management (

        5. U. S. Geological Services -

    B. State Agencies - environmental work at the state level is about the same throughout the United States and covers the following areas .  (See The Complete Guide to Environmental Careers in the 21st Century,

        1. Environmental protection

        2. Fisheries and wildlife

        3. Food and agriculture

        4. Parks and recreation

        5. Water resources

        6. Public health

        7. Public utilities

        8. Community and economic development

        9. Costal zone management

        10. Emergency services

    C. Local Governments - including cities, counties and publicly owned utilities

II. Private Sector - the following description of private sector jobs is from the Environmental Business International Inc., which does research and publishing for the environmental industry.

    A. Environmental Services

        1. Environmental Testing and Analytical Services - regulated industries, government, environmental consultants, hazardous waste and remediation contractors

        2. Wastewater Treatment - municipalities, commercial establishments, and all industries

        3. Solid Waste Management - municipalities and all industries

        4. Hazardous Waste Management - chemical companies, petroleum companies, and government agencies

        5. Remediation/Industrial Services - government agencies, property owners, industry

        6. Environmental Consulting and Engineering - industry, government municipalities, waste management companies

        7. Law Firms

    B. Environmental Equipment

            1. Water Equipment and Chemicals - Municipalities and all industries

            2. Instruments and Information Systems - analytical services, government, and regulated companies

            3. Air Pollution Control and Equipment  -  utilities and auto industry

            4. Waste Management Equipment - municipalities, generating industries, solid waste companies

            5. Process and Prevention Technology - all industries

        C. Environmental Resources

            1. Water Utilities - consumers, municipalities, and all industry

            2. Resource Recovery - municipalities, generating industries, solid waste companies

            3. Environmental Energy Sources - utilities, all industries, and consumers

III. NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION - there are many non-profit organizations which hire environmental scientists for various job. A few are listed below.

        A. American Farmland Trust - (

        B. American Forests - (

        C. American Rivers (

        D. Audubon Society -

        E. Clean Water Action -

        F. Defenders of Wildlife -

        G. Environmental Defense Fund -

        H. Friends of the Earth -

        I. Greenpeace -

        J. Izaak Walton League -

        K. Land Trust Alliance -

        M. League of Conservation Voters -

        N. National Parks and Conservation Association -

        O. National Wildlife Federation -

        P. Natural Resources Defense Council -

        Q. The Nature Conservancy - (

        R. Sierra Club -

        S. Trust for Public Land -

        T. World Resource Institute -

        U. World Wildlife fund -

        V. Worldwacth Fund -







College of Sciences Undergraduate Advising Center

Department of Earth and Environmental Science
4.03.30 SB  (210) 458-4455