Approximately 85,000 environmental scientists and specialists are employed in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Industrial ecologists work for government agencies and also for private consulting firms. Many work in the public sector, with the federal government being the largest employer. The Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey are among the federal agencies that manage U.S. conservation.
Many industrial ecologists start their careers through internships and part-time jobs. Ask your school's career services office for assistance with locating internship and job opportunities at industrial ecology consulting firms and government agencies. Federal and local government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management have internship programs. The National Wildlife Federation and the Natural Resources Defense Council also offer internship opportunities.
Another way they gain exposure to this field is by volunteering with such groups as the Student Conservation Association (SCA), which places people in resource management projects and has summer service opportunities for high school students. High school graduates over the age of 18 can check with SCA for internships in forest, wildlife, resource, and other agencies.
Entry-level ecologists also may take advantage of temporary or seasonal jobs to gain experience and establish crucial contacts in the field.
Experienced industrial ecologists may advance to become senior ecologists, supervisors, and managers, in which they are responsible for managing larger teams of people and handling projects that require advanced knowledge and skills. They may pursue an advanced degree, such as a doctorate, or teach at the college level. They may leave full-time positions to start their own consulting firms.
Tips for Entry
Read the Journal of Industrial Ecology to keep up with research and news in the industrial ecology field, http://jie.yale.edu.
Attend industry-related events and conferences to meet people working in the field and learn more about potential job opportunities. Search event listings on the International Society for Industrial Ecology's Web site, https://is4ie.org.
Keep up with ecology news and research by reading publications such as Ecosphere, Ecological Applications, Ecology, and Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment to learn more about ecology. Information on these resources can be accessed at https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com.
Search for job listings and career-support resources on the following Web sites: