You don't grow up in Montana without developing a certain respect and a kind of reverence for our natural environment. From the wide open plains in the east to the towering Rocky Mountains tracking down the western border into the amazing wonderland of Yellowstone National Park, we've got a little bit of everything when it comes to terrain and the variety of flora and fauna that thrive in the remote stretches of untrammeled wilderness.
Big Sky country isn't just a wonderful place to enjoy the sublime grandeur of nature, though; it's also the optimal location to find a full-time position working in environmental science. Whether it's with the government or in the private sector, there are plenty of jobs here that make full use of the knowledge that comes with an environmental science degree. And, conveniently, there are also some excellent schools where you can earn that degree here.
What Can I Do with an Environmental Science Degree in Montana
There are a lot of environmental clean-up and remediation business based in Montana, like Tetra Tech and Cardno. Whether it's undoing the damage from old bulk plants or refineries or reforesting slopes left barren after the devastating wildfires that scorch the state every summer, there is plenty of work to be had around the state for private-sector environmental science workers.
The same universities you will study at are also major employers of environmental science specialists of all stripes. Whether as faculty, researcher, or lab technician, you might find your alma mater turning into an employer.
The pay rates in any of those scenarios can be pretty good. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, even foresters, at the lowest rung on the ladder, earn an average of nearly $60,000 a year. Most other environmental scientists do even better; wildlife biologists and conservation scientists make in the mid-60s, while hydrologists can expect $74,660.
Master's in Environmental Science in Montana
We're a small state, so you are never going to find the plethora of options for graduate degree programs that you would have in the big city, unless you want to count Billings as “the big city.”
But the graduate programs here tend to offer a more broadly focused education to make up for the lack of multiple specializations available. One example of that can be seen in the University of Montana Environmental Studies graduate program. The degree has seven different focus areas to cover all the bases, everything from indigenous knowledge to sustainable food and farming… areas of expertise you might find in other, larger degree programs elsewhere. But those larger schools can't match the intimate ties to the on-the-ground work taking place right here at home.
Bachelor's in Environmental Science in Montana
You have a few more options when it comes to earning a bachelor's degree here, but all of them follow the same general track of delivering an experiential, science-based education that takes full advantage of our strengths and natural resources.
The MSU-Billings bachelor of arts in Environmental Studies is a prime example, being dedicated to community collaboration as well as experiential learning opportunities for students. It's also broad-based, like the UM master's program, allowing you to sample many different types of environmental specializations before customizing your plan with the courses that best suit your tastes.
University of Montana-Western also takes full advantage of the experiential opportunities inherent in our state. You'll learn your trade there out in the hills and valley of southwest Montana at this top-ranked bachelor's in Environmental Science program, participating in active conservation and research programs.
Nor are public schools your only option here, with smaller, private universities like Carroll College also delivering the same rugged flavor of Montana-centric science and research through their natural science degree programs.
Online Environmental Science Degree Options from Schools in Montana
It's often the more rural states that have the most advanced remote learning options available, and Montana definitely fits that description. With many potential students spread out wide across the third least densely populated state in the nation, Montana colleges have had to develop effective online courses to fulfill their educational mission.
Montana State University is one of the leaders in that mission, and their Master of Science in Land Resources and Environmental Sciences offers outstanding graduate training opportunities across a broad variety of environmental fields. With a flexible attendance and completion timeline and a multi-level appreciation for ecological issues, it's a program that can work for you both personally and professionally.