Environmental Economists


Exploring this Job

Read publications on environmental economics to learn more about this field and keep up with news and developments. For instance, the Environmental Protection Agency keeps an archive of reports on environmental economics on its Web site, https://www.epa.gov/environmental-economics.

Get involved in a professional association and attend industry-related events and conferences to meet and learn from professionals in the environmental economic industry. The United States Society for Ecological Economics is one example of a professional association that offers a variety of career-support resources, including educational programs, publications, and job postings. Find information at http://www.ussee.org.

An internship or part-time job in a company that offers environmental economist services is a good way to gain valuable work experience and see firsthand if this type of work suits your interests and skills. Ask your school's career services office for assistance in finding internship and part-time or summer employment opportunities.

The Job

Environmental economists are concerned with the balance between the supply and demand of goods and services and the methods of production, distribution (or trade), and consumption, with a focus on the impact on the environment. They study the relationships between economic issues and the allocation and management of natural resources. Many environmental economists work for federal, state, or local government agencies and for organizations that offer professional, scientific, or technical services. Environmental economists may also work as independent consultants and teach in colleges and universities.

Environmental economists study such things as the measures that are used to control pollution, methods used to generate renewable energy, construction of power plants for hydroelectricity, and construction and development of transnational pipelines. They analyze the costs involved in industrial activities or environmental regulations that are proposed regarding natural resources, and create reports with recommendations for environmental policies that are cost-effective and sustainable.

Tasks for environmental economists include writing technical documents and articles that share the results of their studies and economic forecasts, and conducting research on economic and environmental subjects like soil conservation, public and private land use, and air and water pollution control. They collect data and analyze it in terms of the costs and benefits for the environment and natural resources and for determining environmental policies.

Environmental economists use various computer software programs to gather and analyze information and to create reports and presentations. They use analytical or scientific software such as Economotric Software LIMDEP; database user interface software such as MySQL; development environment software like C and FORTRAN; and e-mail software such as Microsoft Outlook and spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Excel.