Environmental Careers: The 10 Highest-Paying Green Jobs

Pick the right environmental job for you with this helpful guide which includes salary information and job descriptions.

Man working in woods

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Taking care of the planet wasn’t always as popular as it today. Big corporations didn’t actively campaign for recycling, shoppers didn’t use canvass bags instead of plastic ones and Leonardo Di Caprio wasn’t making nature documentaries - he was starring in Hollywood movies.

But if you’ve been convincing your friends to switch to reusable straws way before it became something of a trend, then check your veins if they’re green, because having a career in the environment is definitely in your blood.

If you’re looking for a job where you can best use your Captain Planet abilities and make money too, read on to discover the best and highest-paying options for you.

10. Park Ranger

Average salary: $39,221 / £30,394

Can’t decide between law enforcement and protecting the environment? Who says you can’t do both? As a park ranger, you’ll be in charge of protecting state and national parks while making sure that the people who visit them are safe. 

Park rangers are usually stationed within the wilderness (which means you’ll have a really cool office) and are trained like any other law enforcer (which means you can shoot guns and give first-aid, too). If you’d like to protect the environment and preserve wilderness, there’s no better way to do it than being a park ranger. 

9. Solar Technician

Average salary: $53,191 / £41,337

Solar technicians are in charge of maintaining solar power systems making sure that they’re functioning at full capacity. They’re often called in to identify the problem when a system isn’t working properly and to help when an extra pair of hands are needed.

This means that their jobs can get a little bit physical too; from installing and fixing solar panels, to meeting with solar engineers for the design of more efficient systems – it’s a profession that requires both brains and brawn. If you don’t like being kept indoors and quite enjoy working under the heat of the sun, then this might be the best job for you.

8. Conservationist

Average salary: $61,110 / £47,490

If your lifelong dream is to help change the current state of the environment, becoming a conservationist can help you do that. These scientists are responsible for protecting Mother Nature, ensuring that the next generation will still be able to enjoy its natural beauty.

Depending on which area of the environment you want to preserve the most, there are two popular kinds of environmental conservationists: the wildlife conservationist and the conservationist scientist.

Wildlife conservationists work hard on preserving and maintaining the natural habitat of plants and animals. Meanwhile, conservation scientists’ visit polluted areas to improve the quality of the soil. Unlike wildlife conservationists who normally work with the government, they usually work with private landowners and farmers.

Learn about environmental conservation with Jane Goodall here.

7. Environmental planner

Average salary: $65,230 / £50,684

If you have a knack for drawing and designing but would like to use your artistic skills for more sustainable pursuits, becoming an environmental planner could be your ideal dream job.

With more and more companies wanting to make sure that their new buildings and other constructions comply with environmental regulations the rise in demand for environmental planners has increased too. These professionals ensure that laws aren’t violated and at the same time minimize, if not eliminate, any kind of negative impact their constructions might have on the environment.

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6. Energy manager

Average salary: $80,854 / £62,876

Energy managers inspect and analyse how companies consume energy and make recommendations based on the data they collect. They also design more efficient ways to maximize energy, so they sometimes serve as consultants for architects and engineers for future buildings and other construction projects. Apart from these responsibilities, energy managers also ensure that companies don’t exceed or abuse their energy limits.

5. Environmental engineer

Average salary: $84,890 / £65,991

Environmental engineers are nature lovers who also possess a passion for numbers and scientific matters. They’re responsible for finding sustainable solutions against environmental problems; whether it’s creating a more effective waste management system, developing a better recycling process, or improving the quality of air in a particular area. They mainly work with urban and environmental planners to design systems that are meant to combat environmental damage.

4. Climatologist

Average salary: $89,260 / £69,410

Contrary to popular belief, climatologists are not like meteorologists or those who study the weather for short-term forecasts. Climatologists analyse long-term trends and collect data from various natural resources including soil, air, ice cores and sometimes even plant life.

By doing so, they discover how these environmental and climate changes will impact human life. So, if you’ve always dreaded Armageddon and pray that Bruce Willis never has to sacrifice his life to save the planet, then this is the job for you.

3. Geologist

If you’ve ever seen the movie, Dante’s Peak, then you probably already know how important geologists are. If you haven’t, now’s the time to find out!

Geologists study different earth processes and movements, including but not limited to earthquakes, landslides and volcanic eruptions. Their work is critical in identifying and avoiding future seismic problems that can severely damage any country and its economy. Due to the technical and dangerous nature of their work, geologists are paid a lot more compared to other scientists.

Average Salary: $104,000 | £80,870

2. Environmental lawyer

Average salary: $113, 530 / £88,181

If you like fighting for the environment but think your skills are better used off the streets and outside the wilderness, then why not take them to the courtrooms?

Environmental lawyers are responsible for a number of things including protecting public land, managing native titles, fighting for the conservation of endemic or endangered species, as well as, other legal issues concerning the environment.

To become an environmental lawyer, you’ll naturally (pun intended) need a law degree but if you’re looking to improve your paygrade and get involved in bigger cases later on in your career, you may also opt to take your master’s in environmental law.

1. Chief sustainability director

Average salary: $116,910 / £90,872

At the very top of the ladder are chief sustainability directors, also known as environment chiefs. The environmental executives are in charge of creating sustainable initiatives, as well as, making sure that the company is well within environmental regulations. This position is usually held by an environmental lawyer or engineer who climbed their way up the green chain.

It’s a wide held belief that sustainability and high salaries don’t go hand-in-hand; one must always be sacrificed for the sake of the other. But with the increasing interest and awareness towards protecting the planet, there are now more jobs available for nature lovers everywhere.

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So, if you believe that making money also means making a difference, now is the time to make that choice and start building your environmental career today. 

Have you always wanted a career that helps the environment? Let us know what your dream job is in the comment section below.


Salary information is based on data compiled and published by PayScale and the Bureau of Labour Statistics. Currency conversions are based on rates supplied by XE.com on 8 August 2018.