Environmental Psychology Jobs: Options, Requirements and Outlook

Degree programs in environmental psychology typically cover the relationship between human behavior and the surrounding environment. Find out about the curricula of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for environmental psychology graduates.

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Essential Information

Environmental psychology is the interdisciplinary study that examines how surrounding habitats and environments affect human behavior. Most degree programs in environmental psychology are at the graduate level, so interested students will most likely need to earn bachelor's degrees in psychology or a related field first. Potential courses include environmental and urban planning, human-environment relations, natural resource management, social ecology and cultural geography. Environmental psychology graduates may work with architects, designers or urban planners, discovering ways to enhance housing, workplace, educational and recreational environments. They might also advocate policies to promote environmentally sustainable behavior.

Career Titles Environmental Psychologist Environmental Market Research Analyst Environmental Psychology Professor
Education Requirements Doctorate degree Bachelor's degree or higher Doctorate degree
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)* +12% for all psychologists +32% for all market research analysts +14% for postsecondary psychology teachers
Average Salary (2013)* $88,400 for various types of psychologists $67,780 for all market research analysts and marketing specialists $76,060 for posysecondary psychology teachers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Options

Diverse job opportunities for environmental psychology graduates might include teaching, consulting or research in areas such as green architecture, urban planning, sustainable interior design, landscape architecture, environmental design, community development, or restoration. According to the American Psychological Association, environmental psychology jobs may be available with government agencies, non-profit organizations or wildlife and forest conservatories.

Environmental Psychologist

Environmental psychologists can work outdoors at parks or recreation centers. Professionals analyze the surroundings and assist in designing a pleasant and environmentally efficient space for tourists and visitors. They may also work indoors in offices or laboratories, researching the effects of light, weather, decor and stress on workers. Alternatively, they might assess how the construction of a garden or playground at a school may positively affect academic performance.

Typically, individuals must earn doctorate degrees in psychology or in a related subfield to become a psychologist. There are some career opportunities for individuals who only earn master's degrees, but to conduct significant research most employers prefer to hire people who hold doctorate degrees. Psychologists must meet licensure requirements, but those requirements may vary significantly for environmental psychologists, since these professionals do not provide clinical therapy. Nevertheless, individuals should check with their own states to verify licensure and certification requirements.

Environmental Market Research Analyst

Analysts who specialize in environmental market research may examine what factors motivate customers to purchase products or participate in services deemed environmentally-friendly. Like all market research analysts, these professionals review the success rate of marketing campaigns, analyze customer purchasing habits, collect required data, make recommendations on promotional campaigns, and transform raw data into usable reports. Analysts with a background in environmental psychology would be more capable of performing these duties with a focus on environmental concerns.

Education requirements for market research analysts include the minimum of a bachelor's degree. There are not many bachelor's degree programs in environmental psychology, however, although individuals can double major in psychology and environmental studies, or any other combination of undergraduate programs. It is not uncommon for employers to prefer candidates with master's degrees, so individuals who hold master's degrees in environmental psychology may do very well in this field.

Environmental Psychology Professor

Postsecondary teachers, also known as professors, teach college-level coursework in specific topics. Environmental psychology professors, for example, prepare lesson plans and give lectures on the relationship between psychology and environmental studies. Other job duties for postsecondary teachers may include meeting with students and faculty, teaching classes, grading papers, writing grant proposals, being on committees, conducting research, and publishing research results.

To secure a tenure position as a postsecondary teacher in environmental psychology, individuals will need to earn doctorate degrees in their preferred fields of study. Although master's degree holders in other majors may be able to teach at the junior college level, environmental psychology is typically only taught at the graduate level, therefore professors in this field will need doctorate degrees. While postsecondary teachers in general do not require licensure, it is possible that those who specialize in environmental psychology may need to be licensed as psychologists, depending on state laws and employer preference.

Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job prospects for all psychologists are expected to increase 12% between 2012 and 2022, which is about average compared to all occupations; however, prospects may be optimum for those who hold a Ph.D. in an applied specialty. Additionally, the APA maintains that due to growing public concerns about climate change and energy conservation, the need for environmental psychologists may increase, since the resulting emotional stress can affect peoples' mental health. BLS predictions for the 2012-2022 decade also indicated that available positions for market research analysts would grow by 32%, and postsecondary psychology teachers could expect a 14% growth rate during that same decade.

The BLS reported an average annual salary of $88,400 for various types of psychologists as of May 2013. During the same year, the BLS also indicated that the average annual salary for market research analysts was $67,780. Although the BLS does not hold specific data for environmental psychology postsecondary teachers, they do have salary statistics for psychology postsecondary teachers, and as of 2013 these professionals earned an average annual salary of $76,060.

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