From the badlands to the tallgrass prairies, you know you've got yourself a veritable treasure in South Dakota. But even this sparsely populated state has its share of environmental woes; most recently, this includes a leak in the Keystone pipeline in 2017 that caused more than 200,000 gallons of crude oil to spill onto a farm in Amherst.
Whether you're a city dweller in Sioux Falls or nestled up against the Black Hills National Forest in Custer, you can make a difference in your state by joining the ranks of environmental scientists who make the health of South Dakota's ecosystem their mission. Your work will be used to educate, advise, and create policy to ensure that this state remains the jewel of the Midwest.
What Can I Do with an Environmental Science Degree in South Dakota
The work of environmental scientists is needed in the governmental, nonprofit and private sectors in South Dakota, so you'll have plenty of options when it comes time to land a job.
Environmental specialists are a hot commodity to private environmental consulting firms. For example, Dakota Environmental, Inc. provides a wide range of services related to site assessment and remediation, soil boring and well monitoring projects, and environmental audits. Sioux Falls' GeoTek Engineering & Testing Services Inc. is another large environmental consulting firm that handles large jobs ranging from emergency spill response to indoor air quality issues.
Governmental agencies in South Dakota also require the expertise of environmental scientists. The SD Natural Resources Conservation Service, for example, is a federally funded agency that works with private landowners to preserve their natural resources. In one recent year alone, this agency helped South Dakota farmers and ranchers implement more than 39,000 conservation plans on more than 750,000 acres of cropland and more than 1 million acres of rangeland.
Although your salary potential in environmental science will vary depending on your educational level and experience, as well as the sector in which you work, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that salaries for these specialists in South Dakota are quite competitive when compared to scientists in other fields.
According to 2020 BLS statistics, environmental specialists and scientists in South Dakota earned an annual, average salary of $59,920, while conservation scientists earned $58,020 and geoscientists earned $70,620.
2020 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures and job growth projections for Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Conservation Scientists, and Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers reflect state data not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed September 2021.
Master's in Environmental Science in South Dakota
While environmental science is still considered an emerging field, you'll find that master's degrees are plentiful, thanks to the rising demand for environmental specialists in a variety of sectors. The popularity of these programs extends into South Dakota, providing students like you with exciting courses of graduate study that are designed to take your career to the next level.
For example, the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology offers an MS in Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, which features advanced study in areas such as global ecological cycles, thermodynamics, and solar and terrestrial radiation. Just some of the active research projects here include fire and its effects on the ecosystem, soil erosion, and incident meteorology.
Another top master's program in South Dakota is the University of South Dakota's MS in Sustainability, your chance to dive deep into the environmental and social aspects of sustainability. You'll also have the opportunity to participate in the university's student organization, Students Understanding Sustainable Tactics Club, which works throughout the Vermillion community to create projects that educate the public about sustainability.
Bachelor's in Environmental Science in South Dakota
Bachelor's degrees in environmental science provide the perfect foundation to a career in the environmental sciences. South Dakota State University's BS in Ecology and Environmental Science is the robust program you'd expect from the state's largest university. Students here can earn a minor in botany, animal science, chemistry, rangeland ecology and management and more alongside their bachelor's, and internship opportunities are plentiful, including big names like the National Park Service, the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Natural Resource Conservation Service.
Northern State University's BS in Environmental Science is another noteworthy undergrad program in South Dakota. The state's flagship university has been consistently recognized as one of the top national universities in the U.S. by Forbes, the Princeton Review, and U.S. News & World Report. Pursue this program and you'll also have the opportunity to complete a GIS certificate, which includes additional experiential learning in environmental science.