Climate change analysts look at atmospheric and oceanic temperatures as well as greenhouse emissions, ice masses and soil quality to create models that help predict how the climate will change. Depending on the employer, they may also research government policies, lobby for policy changes or track current environmental practices to better the environment. Many prepare grant applications and make legislative recommendations related to climate change. Pay for these analysts is comparable to that of environmental scientists.
Climate change analysts are often grouped with other environmental scientists and specialists. In 2012, these scientists earned an average of $68,970 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10 percent of earners made more than $109,970, while the bottom 10 percent earned less than $38,570 annually. But Science Buddies, an online community of science professionals, estimates salaries of climate change analysts at almost $63,000 a year.
As with any job, employers in certain areas of the country must pay more to secure qualified analysts. Among the states, environmental specialists earned the highest wages in the District of Columbia, where the average was $112,200 a year. Those working in Rhode Island were a distant second, at an average of $84,680, while those working in Washington state ranked third, at an average of $81,000. The lowest wages paid were in West Virginia, where the average salary was just $45,010 annually.
Employers often seek candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree in environmental science or a related field. Internships at scientific labs focusing specifically on climate change can improve employment opportunities. If, however, you hope to create mathematical models to help predict climate change, a graduate degree is usually necessary. Look into a master’s of science in environmental science, computer science or mathematics. If working on government policy is your goal, consider a graduate degree in public policy in addition to a bachelor’s degree in environmental science.
The BLS expects employment for environmental scientists to grow by as much as 19 percent from 2010 to 2020. This is faster than the average growth rate for all U.S. occupation, an estimated 14 percent. The experts at Science Buddies, however, anticipate even better job prospects, projecting a growth of upward of 20 percent through 2020. The majority of openings will likely occur in private consulting firms, where analysts monitor environmental changes and help companies comply with state and federal regulations.
Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.