Do you have a desire to innovate and invent? Do you like solving complex problems and conducting in-depth research? The Science and Sustainability community has information and resources for fields such as Renewable Energy, Natural Resources, Biotech, and more. Explore how your love of investigation and inquiry can connect to real-world opportunities, and help solve the complex challenges facing our world today such as climate change, environment and health, and water and energy futures.
Types of Organizations
There are a number of organizations that rely on the expertise that both scientists and sustainability professionals bring to the table. Here are types of organizations where you might conduct work in the field of Science and Sustainability:
- Federal Agencies
- State and Local Government
- Non Profits
- Environmental Consulting Firms
- Universities and Academic Institutions
- Pharmaceutical Manufacturers
- Research Institutions
- Regulatory Agencies
- Utility Companies
Take a look at the industry sub-pages to get a sense of the job titles associated with this career community.
Employment of life, physical, and social science occupations is projected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations, which will result in about 124,800 new jobs. Increasing demand for expertise in the sciences, particularly in occupations involved in biomedical research, psychology, energy management, and environmental protection, is projected to result in employment growth.
The median annual wage for life, physical, and social science occupations was $64,510 in May 2017, which was higher than the median wage for all occupations of $37,690. (Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook)
Sustainability is a relatively new field, and because of this, it can be difficult to glean reliable statistics on the sector. Additionally, job titles and job functions that align with sustainability also overlap with a number of different sectors including management, engineering, law and policy, healthcare, and more. Sustainability and environmental practices remain a large part of the government and the private sector on all levels. A large number of environmental laws and regulations creates the need not only for technologies to service those regulations, but also for professionals to carry out such endeavors. (Vault Guide to Environmental Careers)
Another facet to consider in these fields is whether or not to pursue graduate education. For some roles and industries, such as biotech and pharmaceuticals, advancement can be predicated on receiving advanced education, while for other fields experience is valued more highly.
The Career Cornerstone is a resource that focuses specifically on opportunities in STEM. There are over 185 profiles of various fields with comprehensive information on education requirements, salaries, professional associations and overall career resources. The site also has resources focusing on diversity in STEM.
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- Biotech & Life Sciences
- Environment & Sustainability Management
- Environmental Services
- Nature & Agriculture
- Physical Sciences & Aerospace
- Utilities and Renewable Energy
Research experiences provide meaningful ways to engage with a subject in a variety of fields. This hands-on experience in a lab or in the field can make you more competitive for graduate school, or for positions in industry. Participating in research will allow you to better understand your own interests, and allow you to network with leaders in the field and others with similar backgrounds and interests. The links below are a list of research opportunities, funding sources, and established programs that help connect students to research. Many of these options are available at UVA, and it's always a good idea to contact faculty and advisors who are conducting research on Grounds and ask about opportunities they might have in their labs and classrooms.
- Undergraduate Research Network
- Undergraduate Student Opportunities in Academic Research
- Office of Citizen Scholar Development
- Harrison Undergraduate Research Award (funding)
- Virginia-North Carolina Alliance for Minority Participation
- Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training
- NRAO Summer Student Research Assistantship
- National Institutes of Health
- National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates
- School of Medicine Summer Research Internship Program
- Smithsonian Opportunities for Research and Study
- American Mathematical Society Research Experience for Undergraduates
- Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP)
- American Psychological Association Undergraduate Research and Internships
Networking is one of the most successful ways to develop your career path. Connecting with those that you admire, know, and trust can open your eyes to trends, perspectives, and opportunities in your desired career field. Some of the ways you can network include:
Virginia Alumni Mentoring is a program that connects UVA students with alumni who have volunteered to provide insights about the process of choosing and starting a career in their field. The program provides students and their alumni mentors a structured means of initiating a professional relationship to discuss career interests and professional preparation. Together, they develop goals for their regular meetings, during which the alumni mentors offer insights about their own undergraduate experiences, career progression and current work, in order to support mentees in navigating their own chosen career paths.
LinkedIn is an online networking tool. Beyond connecting to other professionals in similar fields, LinkedIn is an invaluable tool for conducting research about specific occupations or industries. You can also use LinkedIn to learn about UVA alumni and their destinations after graduation.
Alumni Spotlight: Strategy Analyst
Allison is a Strategy Analyst for the Global Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Program with The Nature Conservancy. Currently working with the Latin America region, Allison strives to assist in "securing rights to natural resources, strengthening leadership and capacity, participating in multi-stakeholder dialogue and decisions, and creating sustainable economic development opportunities."
Major: Spanish (Bachelor), Natural Resources and International Affairs (Masters)
College: University of Virginia, American University and United Nations University for Peace (Masters)
State: District of Columbia
Explore More Career Pathways
Watch more UVA Alumni videos on the Candid Career platform. You can also view thousands of informational video interviews featuring industry professionals from around the country working in a variety of industries.