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Degree Overview: Associate of Science (A.S.) Degree in Environmental Studies

Majors Overview March 11, 2014

Students will explore the role of animals, organisms, plant life, and humans on the environment and ecosystems when taking an associate’s degree program in environmental studies. The program features outdoor experience where students will work in wildlife refuges, fish hatcheries, and watersheds. Students will also examine botany, biology, ecology, and wildlife conservation. Graduates will be able to find jobs in environmental firms, government agencies, and several other agencies.

Associate of Science (A.S.) Programs in Environmental Studies

Students enrolled in an environmental studies program are imparted knowledge about environmental law, ecology and conservation. Students are introduced to environmental issues such as human impact on the global environment, environmental organisms, environmental hazards, and natural resource management. Students are expected to participate in science intensive lab studies and field experiences wherein they gain practical experience working outdoors with ecosystems, plant life and animals. Admission criteria typically require a GED certificate or high school diploma.

Coursework

Courses in chemistry, biology, ecology and statistics are taken by students. Students gain practical work experience working with research technology including wildlife tracking and GIS software. Coursework may commonly include topic areas such as:

•Climate patterns
•Animal rights
•Reproduction
•Energy sources
•Erosion
•Food webs
•Microorganisms
•Cell structure
•Life cycles
•Pollution

Career Choices

While many associate degree graduates may wish to transit to bachelor’s degree programs, occupational opportunities abound in different work settings, such as research facilities and non-profit organizations. Graduates can also seek government jobs, including positions at the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Graduates may also choose from job titles such as:

•Wetland field technician
•Environmental technician
•Laboratory technician

Job and Wage Outlook

A faster-than-average job growth rate of 19% has been projected for environmental science and protection technicians during the decade from 2012 to 2022 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). In May 2012, these professionals took home an average annual wage of $41,240. However, during the 2012-22 decade, a negative job growth rate of four percent has been projected for forest and conservation technicians, including wetlands conservation technicians, who, in May 2012, earned an average annual wage of $33,920.

Continuing Education Choices

As employers often expect candidates to hold an advanced degree for many jobs in the environmental science field, aspiring individuals may consider earning a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies. Master’s degree and doctoral degree programs in environmental studies are other available degree options. Additionally, several continuing education choices are offered to its members by the National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP); these include regional meetings, seminars, courses and conferences. Access to a career center and student internship opportunities are also given to NAEP members.

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