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What is this career?

The major prepares students for careers in the public and private sectors that address environmental and natural resource management, business, or public policy. Such professionals play an important role in coordinating interdisciplinary teams to help solve complex environmental problems.

Students in our program learn skills necessary to work for organizations to ensure that essential natural amenities such as clean air, tropical rain forests and biodiversity are given due consideration in decisions. These considerations ultimately determine whether firms will adopt green practices or technologies; whether new regulations will achieve stated goals for economic growth and environmental outcomes; whether new market-based management (such as cap-and-trade initiatives) will be effective; or whether unintended consequences may arise from the economic system and environmental policies. Often, these analyses must take into account competing interests, such as how offshore wind farms affect fishermen, boaters, marine transportation, seafood consumers, coastal residents, and traditional electricity suppliers.

Jobs in the private sector

Unlike governmental jobs, private sector positions benefit of more flexibility with respect to qualifications, responsibilities and salary. The private sector includes business, industry, and consultants. The Environmental and Natural resource Economics major can qualify you for a wide range of careers in the private sector, both nationally and internationally including, but not limited to:

  • Environmental consultant
  • Economic consultant
  • Project manager
  • Resource manager
  • Environmental analyst
  • Policy specialist
  • Environmental specialist
  • Economist
  • Environmental attorney
  • Research assistant

Given the extensive list of possible careers to choose from, an exact amount for the annual or hourly wage cannot be specified. More so than in the public sector, salary ranges can be very broad based upon the type of position, responsibilities, personal and professional skills and experience, employer, location, negotiation and many other factors. However, As of 2011, entry level jobs corresponding to qualifications achieved by students graduating in this field can pay anywhere from $30,000 to $45,000 per year. Among other opportunities, performance and further training/education, either through graduate school or specialized certifications, are ways of professional advancement in the private sector.

The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics lists in their yearly Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, two categories of occupations that could fit a career path with an environmental economics degree.

According to the BLS, there were roughly over 6,000 Economists in the private sector in year 2008, and the annual salary for such a position ranged from $44,050 to $149,110.

Similarly, the Market and Survey Researchers, as listed in the BLSís Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, held close to 300,000 jobs in year 2008 and the majority of these jobs were listed as Market Research Analysts, while just over 23,000 jobs were Survey Researchers. For the same year, the median annual salary for market research analyst was $61,070, and for survey researchers, $36,220.

The following short article posted on the Environmental Economics blog describes some employment opportunities in environmental economics: