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Overview
What is this career?

As a college or university professor you will use your extensive background in environmental and natural resource economics to prepare the next generation of environmental economists, and to engender an appreciation and understanding of the interactions between our environment and our economy among the general public.

In the Junior or Community College education setting, teaching jobs will usually require a Master and the associated responsibilities are to teach introductory environmental economics classes, develop the curriculum and advise students.

At four-year colleges and to an even greater extent at universities that have graduate programs in environmental and natural resource economics, such as URI, one is required a PhD and additional post-doctoral experience plus demonstrated competency in research (i.e. peer-reviewed journal publications). A university professor is expected to teach undergraduate and graduate classes and mentor graduate students, develop research and extension programs in a particular area of interest in the field of resource economics, pursue external grant funding, participate on committees at the department, college, university level and publish research results in refereed journals and outreach media.

Professors are in the business of selling knowledge to students, their consumers, hence in both education settings, they are expected to be very good communicators and have the ability to help and motivate others. They also need to posses strong analytical skills and to keep themselves updated on all relevant issues and news in their field.

Positions in academia are highly competitive, and a strong academic record in environmental and natural resource economics and the allied field (i.e. environmental sciences) is a prerequisite. On the up-side, despite cutbacks in state and federal funding for education, the number of positions becoming available in academia, in the future, should increase. This is primarily a consequence of the aging of the (baby boomer) faculty, and the need to replace them.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), for year 2008-2009, full-time faculty earnings were reported to range from $52,436 to $108,749 per year, depending on the rank held. You can read below an excerpt from the BLS website about earnings for faculty members.

“According to a 2008–09 survey by the American Association of University Professors, salaries for full-time faculty averaged $79,439. By rank, the average was $108,749 for professors, $76,147 for associate professors, $63,827 for assistant professors, $45,977 for instructors, and $52,436 for lecturers. In 2008–09, full-time faculty salaries averaged $92,257 in private independent institutions, $77,009 in public institutions, and $71,857 in religiously affiliated private colleges and universities.” (U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Teachers-Postsecondary, Earnings, http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos066.htm)

College and university professors may supplement their income by publishing, consulting or teaching additional courses to their regular load. Among many other benefits, professors can enjoy tuition waivers for their dependents, housing and travel allowances and a paid leave for sabbaticals. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)