Why study environmental science?

You don’t have to be an environmental science student, researcher or scientist to be an environmentalist. Environmentalist are simply people who advocate about environment. But when one knows more deeply about environmental issues, understands the scientific principle and the market mechanism underpinning environmental decision, one can advocate much more efficiently on environmental issues but this is not a compulsory criterion. So, if you are at crossroads on whether to study environmental science or not, below I provide information to ease your decision ending with my own personal experience.

What do environmental science degrees cover?

Environmental study is an interdisciplinary field bringing together the fields of ecology, biology, chemistry, physics, social sciences and much more. Because there are so many interrelated aspects to it, there are wide variety of career options available.

So, what does environmental science study entail? In beginning stage of study, it includes study of compulsory core modules aiming to give a general understanding of environmental science and introduce you to some of the main principles. The study of the physical, chemical and biological processes is focused. Later it branches out to the study of natural resource conservation, market mechanisms for environmental management, wildlife conservation etc.

Key skills gained

Environmental study is conceived in response to the growing societal need for professionals in the field of environmental management, resource management, wildlife conservation and other environmental and social issues. So, skills that you acquire depends on the specialization one chooses. However, as you study environmental science, you gain the knowledge of general research skills including use of scientific literature, lab and fieldwork skills, awareness of a range of environmental issues, numeracy and data analysis among others. People have some unwarranted notions that environmental science impede development activity. This is a wrong assumption. What environmental study actually does is provide knowledge in managing a range of environmental issues, provide solutions in achieving it so that harm to the natural environmental is reduced.

Career opportunities in environmental science

Environmental science graduates have opportunities to work in a lot of sectors including but not restricted to government, industry, NGOs, INGOs, academia, research Institutes among others. Some of the career opportunities it offers are:

  • Research: scientific research on today’s global environmental challenges
  • Environmental project management: Project pertaining to environmental issues and can focus on the relationships among policy, management and science.
  • Environmental consultancy: Expertise in particular environmental sector used in developing or measuring appropriate compliance with environmental regulations
  • Environmental entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurship applied to create businesses that solve environmental problems or operate sustainably

Pros and Cons of studying this degree


  • Awareness to a range of environmental issues
  • Contribution in research
  • Contribution in sustainable development
  • A wide variety of opportunity to work
  • Working on solving societal concerns as environmental issues are also deeply entrenched with societal issues.


  • To get a good paying job at least Master’s study is required.
  • If a certain specialization is not taken, then the general knowledge of issues does not offer competitive job
  • Some work demands that field work need to be conducted so if you are someone who does not like field work then the work can be quite difficult.

My personal experience

My own experiences of studying environmental science have been quite fulfilling. I have travelled a lot of areas which otherwise, there was no chance of. Travelling to the remote regions of Nepal, I have caught a glimpse of the diversity Nepal has to offer. I have got a chance to get acquainted to the lifestyle of people in different areas. I have developed and still learning to develop systematic understanding of complex environmental issues which also lead to writing research papers. The joy of seeing one’s hard work getting published is really fulfilling. Also I feel I am learning something new every day and the discoveries bring excitement. But I do understand this is not for everyone. The field work can be strenuous. Conducting literature review, reading 100s of papers and synthesizing the information to write a report or paper can be tiresome.

While conducting research in Mahakali river, Nepal

Hence, if you are interested in creating a more sustainable world for ourselves and for future generations then environmental study can be an attractive career. You will always be learning something new and a sense of fulfillment of contributing something to society by working on solving environmental issues is gained. And the beauty of studying environmental science is that you also gain general knowledge which could be used to changing career if you feel environmental science isn’t really your cup of tea.

Anu Rai

I am an aspiring environmental researcher.

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