What are the career options for graduates with an environmental psychology degree? First, we’ll go over what exactly it is. Environmental psychology is the study of how people interact with, and are affected by, a broad range of settings. This may include not only nature, but houses, workplaces, and social environments as well. More specifically, an environmental psychologist studies how people’s emotions and actions can be influenced or controlled by their surroundings.
For example, an environmental psychologist may have a career in which they observe a classroom and study how the environment can be manipulated to promote learning. They may also lend a hand in creatively setting up spaces to promote a certain feeling or atmosphere, such as peacefulness or relaxation. Continue reading for environmental psychology career options.
1. Environmental Planner
One of the most popular careers for environmental psychologists is in urban planning. They will typically work at or with city, state, and federal government agencies to reduce the impact of construction on the environment. They will meet with clients and travel to work sites frequently. They may make recommendations to the government on whether or not to grant building permits in certain locations. Environmental planners can also have a career in engineering and architectural firms.
2. Environmental Market Research Analyst
Those with an environmental psychology degree will have all the skills to succeed in a career as market research analyst, specifically in relation to environments. This can be applied one of two ways. An environmental market research analyst may work with companies to find out what makes a customer purchase a product in their store. They collect data on purchasing habits and can help create and review marketing campaigns. In addition to studying in-store consumers, an environmental MRA may study what factors make people buy services and products that are environmentally friendly, thus helping influence customers to participate in “green” initiatives.
A PhD in environmental psychology can lead to a position as a graduate school professor for those interested in teaching. A professor may do his or her own research projects alongside instructing students. As an environmental psychology professor, you will prepare lectures, create lesson plans, grade assignments, and work closely with students to prepare them for all the career options in environmental psychology. Professors stay up to date on developments in their field by reading, studying, and attending seminars.
4. Ecopsychologist-Nature Therapist
Ecopsychology is a newly-developing subset of environmental psychology. An interesting career choice within ecopsychology is nature therapy, sometimes called “green therapy.” Since environmental psychologists focus on the relationship between people and environments, nature therapists combine counseling and natural environments into a unique practice. They believe that people and the earth are very much connected, and that spending time in nature can improve mental health and well-being. They work directly with clients, counseling them one-on-one and incorporating the benefits of being around plants. One psychological study found that after induced mental stress, participants who were asked to take a walk in nature reported more positive feelings and less anger. (Terry Hartig, 2016 Restorative effects of nature experience: Theoretical and methodological considerations)
5. Climate Psychologist
Climate psychologists are particularly concerned with how humans effect the climate, and further, how to promote better environmental practices and choices, from the individual level and up to the governmental level. They may work to influence and guide policy and law decisions regarding the environment, or can study ways to get people motivated in participating in pro-environment choices, such as recycling. They research and suggest what kinds of messages and strategies can help our society reshape beliefs and become more environmentally conscious.
As you can see, there are almost limitless career options for environmental psychologists. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports job growth of 12% in the field of environmental psychology, and an average salary of $89,810, though salary is largely dependent on what one chooses to do with an environmental psychology degree.
Related Resource: 5 Websites for Environmental Psychologists
Opening your own consulting firm, working in academics or research, or working alongside government agencies and non-profit organizations are just a few possibilities. If you enjoy studying people and want to help create a better world for everyone, a rewarding career in environmental psychology may be right for you.