The Best Careers in Climate Change

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April 4, 2024
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min read

Working in climate change can be both challenging and rewarding. Professionals in this field play a crucial role in addressing one of the most pressing global challenges of our time. If you care about the well-being of the environment, you may opt for a climate change career. As you’re likely aware, climate change is having a huge effect on the lives of many. According to NASA, 2019 is the second warmest year on record. With such extreme climatic conditions, there is a demand for a career that can help combat climate change. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for environmental scientists and specialists is 8% growth. There are many career paths that you can choose when it comes to climate change. If you are thinking of switching careers or are just graduating from college, you can look into a climate change career. 

What is climate change?

Climate change refers to the long-term alteration of global or regional climate patterns due to human activities, primarily the emission of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. This leads to rising temperatures, extreme weather events, sea level rise, changes in precipitation, impacts on ecosystems, and social and economic challenges. Addressing climate change requires global cooperation and actions to reduce emissions, transition to renewable energy, and adapt to its impacts.

The benefits of choosing a career in climate change

Impactful work

Individuals working in climate change have the opportunity to contribute to solutions that have a direct impact on the environment, communities, and future generations. Their efforts can help mitigate the effects of climate change, protect biodiversity, and promote sustainability.

Interdisciplinary collaboration

Climate change work often involves collaboration across various disciplines, including science, engineering, policy, economics, and social sciences. Professionals may work with scientists, policymakers, businesses, NGOs, and community leaders to develop and implement solutions.

Dynamic and fast-faced environment

The field of climate change is constantly evolving, with new research findings, technological advancements, and policy developments shaping the landscape. Professionals must stay informed about the latest trends and innovations to remain effective in their work.

Complex challenges

Addressing climate change involves navigating complex challenges, including scientific uncertainties, political obstacles, economic considerations, and social equity issues. Professionals must be adaptable, creative, and resilient in finding solutions to these multifaceted problems.

Global perspective 

Climate change is a global issue that transcends national boundaries. Professionals in this field often work on projects with international partners and collaborate with stakeholders from around the world to develop coordinated responses to climate change.

Sense of purpose

Many individuals are drawn to work in climate change because of a strong sense of purpose and a desire to make a positive difference in the world. Despite the challenges, the opportunity to contribute to meaningful and impactful work can be deeply fulfilling.

What environmental jobs are in demand? 

According to the balance careers, you may opt for green dream jobs such as the chief sustainability officer having an annual median salary of $104,690. You can also become an environmental lawyer and expect an annual median salary of $122,960. The salaries may vary depending on the year, location, and other such factors. The job options available above can guide you better. 

The best degrees for a career in climate change

Environmental Science or Environmental Studies

These degrees provide a broad understanding of environmental systems, including climate change science, ecology, and natural resource management.

Climate Science

Degrees in climate science focus specifically on the study of climate systems, weather patterns, and the impacts of climate change on the environment and society.

Sustainability Studies

Sustainability degrees emphasize the integration of environmental, social, and economic factors to address sustainability challenges, including climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Environmental Engineering

Environmental engineering degrees focus on the design and implementation of technologies and systems to address environmental challenges, including climate change mitigation strategies such as renewable energy and carbon capture technologies.

Policy Studies or Public Administration

Degrees in policy studies or public administration with a focus on environmental policy provide training in policy analysis, advocacy, and implementation, essential for influencing climate change policies at local, national, and international levels.

Renewable Energy Engineering or Sustainable Energy

These degrees focus on the development and implementation of renewable energy technologies, crucial for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to a low-carbon economy.

The best jobs for working in climate change

1. Atmospheric Scientist 

  • The median salary (2020) of an atmospheric scientist was $99,745 per year according to the U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
  • With a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric science, you can become an atmospheric scientist. In order to research, you need to do a Ph.D. or a Master’s. 
  • You will be working indoors and occasionally outdoors and the responsibilities include studying the weather and climate. 

2. Geoscientist 

  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay (2020) of a geoscientist was $93,580 per year. 
  • You can get a bachelor’s degree in geoscience or a related field. As a geoscientist, you work both indoors and outdoors.
  • A geoscientist studies Earth from various aspects, for example, studying the structure of Earth, examining fossils, and so much more. 

3. Conservation Scientist And Forester 

  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay (2020) of a conservation scientist and forester was $64,010 per year. 
  • You can get a bachelor’s degree in forestry or a related field. 
  • In this profession, you are overseeing forestry and working for the better quality of natural resources, parks, forests, and so much more. 

4. Urban And Regional Planners

  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay (2020) of urban and regional planners was $75,950 per year.
  • For becoming urban planners and regional planners you need to have a master’s degree and it has to be from an accredited planning program. 
  • As an urban and regional planner, you will be devising plans and programs that are for the betterment of your community. 

5. Environmental Engineer

  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay (2020) of an environmental engineer was $92,120 per year. 
  • An individual needs to have a Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, environmental engineering, or related. 
  • An environmental engineer will help find effective solutions to environmental problems using knowledge-based on engineering principles, chemistry, and so much more. 

6. Environmental Lawyer

  • If you are an environmental lawyer then according to PayScale, the average salary (Oct 2021) for environmental law is $120,000 per year. 
  • You need to have an undergraduate degree, pass LSAT exams, graduate with a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. You have to take the bar exam in your state and then apply for the relevant positions. 
  • As an environmental lawyer, you will be providing legal guidance to your clients on issues and topics related to the environment. 

7. Sustainability Consultants

  • According to PayScale (Oct 2021), sustainability consultants earn $67,699 per year. 
  • According to a survey conducted by Zippia based on analyzing 411 sustainability consultant resumes, the bachelor’s degree was the most common at 66%. You can study sustainability, environmental studies, and even business. 
  • A sustainability consultant works with companies and businesses to help them become environmentally friendly. In the long term, a corporation may be able to save some money with the help of such professionals. 

8. Environmental Scientists And Specialists

  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay (2020) of environmental scientists and specialists was $73,230 per year 
  • You need to get a bachelor’s degree in environmental science or natural sciences for this profession. 
  • Environmental scientists and specialists use their knowledge of natural sciences to work for the betterment of the environment and play an active role in human health.

Taking care of the Earth is our responsibility. It’s high time to do something for the well-being of the environment. A career change may help! So if you are looking for a change, you can look into climate change careers and see if you find something of interest. 

If you’re searching for a job in climate change, use Teal’s Job Tracker to manage your job search.

Frequently Asked Questions

What qualifications are typically required for a career in climate change advocacy?

Climate change advocacy roles often require a combination of education and experience. A bachelor's degree in environmental science, public policy, or a related field is usually the minimum, along with strong communication skills. Experience with grassroots campaigns, policy analysis, and public speaking can also be crucial. Some roles may require advanced degrees for higher-level positions.

Are there entry-level positions available in the climate change field for recent graduates?

Yes, there are entry-level positions available for recent graduates, such as environmental analysts, sustainability coordinators, and research assistants. These roles can provide valuable experience in data collection, analysis, and reporting on environmental impacts, and they often require a bachelor's degree in a relevant field. Internships and volunteer work can also be helpful in gaining initial experience.

How can professionals transition to a climate change career from a different industry?

Professionals looking to transition to a climate change career can start by gaining relevant knowledge through online courses, certifications, or a degree in environmental science or sustainability. Networking with professionals in the field, attending industry conferences, and volunteering for environmental organizations can also help in making the switch. Transferable skills, such as project management, data analysis, and strategic planning, are highly valued in climate change careers.

Dave Fano

Founder and CEO of Teal, Dave is a serial entrepreneur with 20+ years of experience building products & services to help people leverage technology and achieve more with less.

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