Geography Program - Careers in Environmental Studies

Environmental problems have become the concern of government officials and citizens alike. Because of catastrophes involving toxic waste, air pollution, and water pollution, great care is now being taken to monitor the delicate balance between nature and the human use of the earth. Much more needs to be done. As a result, hundreds of new jobs have been created in environmental fields.

Environmental studies involves students in course work and research in such fields as biology; chemistry; geology; hazard perception; emergency and disaster planning; and environmental, energy-resource, and waste management. An environmental studies program might include anything from the preparation of an environmental impact statement to the geographic aspects of environmental law to the general principles of forest and wildlife management.

Environmental Manager

Environmental managers protect and conserve our natural resources. Their jobs involve the management of water; air quality; soil; energy; land reclamation; coastlands; river basins; and solid-, hazardous-, and toxic-waste disposal. Environmental managers work for governments or private industry. Many work for the federal Environmental Protection Agency or state departments of environmental protection, where they ensure adherence to the laws that keep the soil, water, and air clean. Some environmental managers work for land development companies or subdivision planners, where they prepare environmental impact statements describing how various projects would affect the natural environment. To work in this field, it helps to have had courses in biology and chemistry.

Forestry Technician

Forestry technicians plan for the distribution and care of our forests. Some work for government agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Forest Service, and are responsible for the care and maintenance of thousands of acres of federally owned forestland. Large corporations, such as Weyerhaeuser and Boise-Cascade, also employ forestry technicians to conserve and manage the forests that provide trees for the lumber and paper industries.

Some colleges offer specific forestry programs, but prospective forestry technicians can also benefit from studying geography, generally with support work in biology. Most forestry technicians learn their skills on the job.

Park Ranger

While the main responsibility of a ranger is to enforce the laws designed to protect the environment and make the nation's natural beauty and recreational resources available to all citizens, it is also necessary to understand forest and wildlife conservation. The National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and state parks departments employ a great many rangers. Geography majors interested in becoming park rangers usually complement their geography background with some biology, zoology, wildlife management, and forestry.

Hazardous-Waste Planner

The nation's chemical and nuclear-energy industries have created a need to find safe long-range solutions to the problems of storing hazardous and toxic waste materials. Individuals with training in geography, as well as in such fields as chemical engineering and geology, work to provide regional plans to satisfy this need. Such jobs are available with chemical companies and with large waste management industries.

Source: Association of American Geographers (AAG)

Questions, Comments, Suggestions?

If you would like more information about geography at Plattsburgh State, please contact

Dr. Edwin Romanowicz, Director, Center for Earth and Environmental Science
Office: Hudson Hall 132
Phone: (518) 564-2028
Toll-Free Phone: (877) 554-1041
Email: romanoea@plattsburgh.edu