What do you do, and how did you get into it? And is anyone an environmental lawyer?
I'm a senior () Ecology major playing with career/job ideas. I've been really involved in research and I definitely like it, but I'm unconvinced that academia is the place for me. I'd also love to do more "hands-on" conservation or resource management, instead of just putting information out there for others to use.
"Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out." ~John Wooden
There are quite a few branches of environmental work.
Lots of it is regulatory, or related. Aside from agencies like EPA, most large emitters (power plants, chemical plants, other heavy industry) have environmental specialists on their payrolls. The bulk of the work is making sure your employer is complying with the regulations, so it's doing things like checking the storm drains, periodic sampling of groundwater, documenting and submitting testing results, writing environmental protection plans, and generally keeping abreast of the regulations. Many consultants will also do this type of work.
There is straight-up consulting, which covers a pretty broad spectrum. Much of the work is the sort of dreary "keeping up on applicable regulations and ensuring compliance" that I already mentioned, performed for companies who aren't large enough/don't want to have in-house staff. Some work is environmental cleanup/managing remediation efforts, either for industry (emphasis on cheapest/most proven method) or government (DOE, DOD; usually have a bit more willingness to try novel methods). Other work is performed on things like environmental impact studies (aka counting the bugs and bunnies) or determining maximum safe concentrations in reclaimed sites (risk assessment). Some companies who do that sort of thing would include PSI, SAIC, TetraTech, and CH2MHill.
There is some environmentally-related research, such as novel cleanup methods and pollution monitoring, that is largely funded by grants and is conducted outside the universities. Battelle and Waterways/Army Corps of Engineers come to mind.
Then, of course, there are related jobs like HAZMAT response teams or being a park ranger or working in a water-treatment plant.
People generally specialize in particular areas: regulations pertaining to a particular medium (air, water, soil) or industry, environmental risk assessment, environmental cleanup, law, etc.
I can't really speak to the law question. I took an enviro law class in undergrad and it was pretty neat. It seems like a very specialized field, though, and one where it could be hard getting a job. Maybe working with urban planners and development?
If you're interested in a job with the gov't, they can be pretty awesome.
I had a paid internship with the EPA last summer and it was a really amazing experience. I'm hoping to get a permanent position with them after I finish grad school. They have all kinds of great intern programs for students- so now would be the time to contact them!
Cascadia- OTTB mare. 04/04-05/10
If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever
My friend in Maryland has an awesome job with DNR... she essentially goes fishing everday lol. I was like you.. are.. my.. idol. Not that I'm a particular fan of fishing, but seriously who would choose an office job over that?!
I came out with a BS in Biology and went into the environmental field out of school. I've worked with private industry, state and local gov't, trade association, and now consulting company contracting with EPA.
I loved the trade association work. There are many groups that have an environmental branch as well as those that are conservation/environmental groups. Larger groups hire env. lawyers as well as scientist type.
There are lots of options in the environmental field