Environmental Economists


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Environmental economists need to have a strong educational foundation. Be sure to take classes in economics, mathematics (including calculus and statistics), social sciences, and any classes related to the environment. The job entails a great deal of data studying and report writing, which is why English and communications classes are recommended. Computer science classes are important, and foreign language classes are also beneficial.

Postsecondary Training

The minimum requirement for entry-level environmental economists jobs is a bachelor's degree with a major in economics. Most environmental economists have a master's degree or a Ph.D.

In general, the economics bachelor's degree program consists of about 10 classes on various economic topics, plus two or more mathematics courses, such as statistics and calculus or algebra. To work for the federal government, entry-level economists must have a minimum of 21 semester hours of economics and three hours of statistics, accounting, or calculus. Graduate degree courses include specialties such as advanced economic theory, econometrics, environmental economics, international economics, and labor economics. Bachelor's and master's degree students are usually required to participate in an internship and possibly a fellowship for practical experience in the field.

Certification or Licensing

The National Association for Business Economics offers certificate programs in applied econometrics and economic measurement. Visit https://www.nabe.com for more information. Additionally, many colleges and universities offer certificates in general economics or specialties. Contacts schools in your area to learn more. 

Other Education or Training

Environmental economists continue learning throughout their careers. They must always know the current economic theories and practices as well as current environmental practices, issues, and government regulations. They take workshops and attend educational events and conferences offered by colleges and universities as well as by professional associations such as the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association, American Economic Association, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, National Association for Business Economics, and the Society of Government Economists.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Environmental economists may earn voluntary certification to hone their skills and knowledge and show employers they have achieved a recognized level of expertise in their profession. The National Association for Business Economics (NABE) offers the certified business economist credential. Requirements for certification are a bachelor's degree, NABE membership, two years of related work experience, and passing the certification exam (which covers applied econometrics, statistics and data analytics, economic measurement, managerial decision making, and macroeconomics/microeconomics). Visit https://www.nabe.com/cbe to learn more. 

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Environmental economists participate in internships and fellowships while in school to gain practical work experience. This introduces them to the methods and tools used for collecting and analyzing data, conducting surveys, and creating reports and presentations to share their findings. Most employers prefer to hire environmental economists with several years of prior work experience. Environmental economists are knowledgeable about economic and accounting principles; mathematics, including calculus and statistics, and their applications; and laws and regulations. They are detail oriented, capable of gathering and reviewing large amounts of data and using logic to identify and solve problems. They have a good grasp of the English language and are able to communicate their findings and ideas in clear, concise ways that people can understand. Environmental economists are investigative and enterprising, and are able to work alone and as part of a team.