Career as Environmental Economist

Career as a Environmental Economist

About Environmental Economist

Environmental economists take into account the economics of natural resources, their extraction and use and how the waste products are returned to the environment. They also deal with how economic incentives can help the environment in a positive and negative way and how the incentives can be used for environmental solutions.

Their job primarily involves researching the economics of environmental issues for instance construction of new hydroelectric power plants or renewable energy use etc. They may also at the same time take up the cost-benefit analysis of various industrial activities dealing with natural resources. On the basis of the analysis, they may take decisions and come up with cost-effective and sustainable policies which they communicate to the policymakers in the form of presentations and reports.

These people are responsible for the following:

  • Analysing historical data to form economic theories to understand the current circumstances

  • Look at how an environmental trend or cycle can predict information about future trends

  • Undertake research on the basis of sample findings and literature reviews

  • Have discussions with the policymakers regarding economic pressures that lead to companies and people following the norms or abiding by the regulations

  • Make predictions by collecting and analyzing historical economic information

  • Look at changing some of the economic incentives so that people behave a bit differently or change their approach to environmental issues

  • Make reports regarding their findings

  • Engage with industrialists, policymakers and other stakeholders

  • Offer consultation to agencies, researchers and other professionals regarding environmental economy perspective 

Eligibility to become Environmental Economist

To pursue a career in the field of environmental economics, you will need an economics/environmental science major. You’ll also need to study physics, chemistry, biology, geology, and any other related applied sciences. It is also important for an environmental economist to have an understanding of statistics.

You can also opt for a course that focuses specifically on environmental economics such as Bachelor of Science in Environmental Economics and Policy and depending on your interest and for career advancement, you can also go for a master’s or doctoral degree.

Types of Job Roles Environmental Economist

The following job profiles exist in the field of environmental economics:

Ecological Economist-Ecological Economists address the relationship between ecosystems and economic systems.

Energy Economist-An Energy Economist’s job is to focus on energy as the area of study, prediction, and analysis.

Marine Resource Economist-A Marine Resource Economist deals with the economic aspects of marine management, water quality management, seafood marketing and the impact of coastal industry activities.

Natural Resource Economist-Natural Resource economist focuses on the demand, supply, and allocation of the earth’s natural resources.

Agricultural Economist-Agricultural Economist is a specialist in understanding the economic activity within agricultural markets.

Principal Research Economist-Principal Research Economist leads and contributes to the analytical work which focuses on the macroeconomic issues.

Chief Economist-Chief Economist is responsible for the development and production of financial analysis. It is a broad field which includes planning and coordination pertaining to economic research. 

Employment Opportunities for Environmental Economists

While earlier environmental economists were being employed with the government or in scientific, professional and technical services. Now, there are large consulting firms which are hiring environmental economists where the role of the economists is to assess the environmental and financial costs of development projects.

Environmental economists may also be employed as project managers for various development projects and such a role may also involve travel abroad.

Top Recruiting Companies for Environmental Economists

  • Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations
  • World Bank
  • Asian Development Bank
  • Ministry of Economic Affairs
  • National Council for Applied Economic Research
  • TERI-The Energy and Resources Institute
  • McKinsey & Company

Pay Scale/Salary of Environmental Economist

The starting salary for an environmental economist is approximately Rs. 6, 15,437 per year.

Note: The above figures are an estimate and may vary from individual to individual and company to company.

Books & Study Material to Become Environmental Economist

Some good books to refer to in the field of environmental economics are:

  • Environmental Economics: An Indian Perspective by Rabindranath Bhattacharya

  • Intermediate Environmental Economics by Charles D Kolstad

  • Environmental Economics: Theory and Applications by Katar Singh

  • Environmental and Natural Resource Economics by Tom Tietenberg and Lynne Lewis

  • Public Policies for Environmental Protection by PR Portney

  • Economics of Environment by Subhashini Muthukrishnan

  • Environmental Economics by A N Sarkar

  • Frontiers of Environmental Input-Output Analysis by Shigemi Kagawa

Pros of becoming a Environmental Economist

  • It is an interesting field as you will be constantly learning new things and will be involved in a lot of research
  • Economics as a field is very diverse and you can think of getting into marine resource economics or agricultural economics or some other related field
  • You will get to learn so many valuable skills as studying economics will help you understand how people live and how they are impacting the environment. It is about studying the choices people make and analyzing the reasons behind their choices.
  • It is also associated with prestige because it requires a high level of intellect and that is valued by society.
  • Being an environmental economist is lucrative. Environmental economists also have an option of earning extra by writing books or articles.

Cons of becoming a Environmental Economist

One of the drawbacks of being in this field is that you may be prone to think too theoretically.

You may also get into the habit of overthinking facts too often.

This field of environmental economics can be too competitive at times.

The work hours can be too long and at times, you may have to work over the weekends too.

The work environment can be too stressful at times as there may be a lot of work pressure and preparing reports and presentations may seem a bit tedious.

Paths for Being Environmental Economist