Skip to main contentSkip to footer content

Department of Environmental Biology
What's Next? Life After ESF

Some words of wisdom from a past Curriculum Director, Dr. Larry VanDruff... "So you're completing your B.S. degree in one of the majors offered by EFB. CONGRATULATIONS! Now you have three choices: (a) get a job, (b) go to graduate school, (c) be a bum, remain undecided, work for Uncle Charlie, or marry a millionaire(ss). We can only help you with the first two."


Students with the BS degree may find employment in governmental agencies, initially performing technical services. In order to qualify for Civil Service registry, an examination is mandatory; and specific course work is required. In addition, some of the more practical-oriented career paths may lead to positions with commercial institutions or in self-employment.  Here are some steps to take.

  1. Begin by visiting 110 Bray Hall - Career and Counseling Services. Seek help in preparing your resume, a letter of inquiry, and narrowing your search. Look through posted notices, newsletters and other job listings as well as employment directories. The "Environmental Opportunities" and "Job Scan" periodicals are especially useful. Ask to be placed on Career Service's email list when you leave ESF, to keep in touch with current listings in the office. They can show you the following helpful documents:
    • Career Services Employment Opportunities
    • Annual Placement Surveys (tells you what past grads are doing)
  2. Cruise the hallways of Illick, S.U.'s Lyman Hall (Biology) and Huntington Hall (Teaching/Education) to locate job notices posted on bulletin boards and department office doors. Job listings and services of the S.U. Placement Center (Schine Student Center) can be a valuable aid.
  3. Review this Handbook again. The introductions to the degree programs and options give employment suggestions. Discuss your availability and job aspirations with faculty associated with your concentration - occasionally employers call us with immediate needs.
  4. Read newsletters from the professional societies in your career area. For example, The Wildlifer is the newsletter from The Wildlife Society that includes job notices, as well as announcements of graduate (research) assistant ships. Web sites of professional societies usually have a jobs listing.
  5. Consult both state and federal Civil Service announcements (e.g., federal Life Sciences Announcement No. 421) which list the educational requirements, including specific subject matter, for numerous job titles. The New York State Employment Office (Syracuse Job Placement Center) is located at 677 S. Salina Street (phone 479-3261) and the federal Civil Service Office (Federal Job Information Center) is in the Federal Building at 100 S. Clinton Street (phone 423-5660) in downtown Syracuse. On the World Wide Web, current federal job listings can be found at and New York State jobs can be found at
  6. Don't overlook contacts with anyone you know in agencies, consulting firms, and private business. Call or visit ESF alumni who usually are sympathetic and able to help you.
  7. Be patient - and PERSISTENT. I often tell seniors that it will take as much work and time to get established in a career as it did to get the B.S. degree.

Graduate School

Graduate degrees (M.S., Ph.D.) are often required by public and private agencies, as well as academic institutions, for positions in research, management and teaching. Generally, the degree of responsibility achievable is commensurate with the highest post-graduate degree obtained. Preparation for graduate study demands dedication and high academic proficiency. The sooner you identify this goal, the more time you will have to develop an appropriate course background. Do this with the help of your advisor, but also in consultation with other faculty members who work in the general field. Seek advice on potential graduate programs and faculty advisors at other institutions, and on opportunities for financial support. Numerous graduate announcements are posted on campus bulletin boards and most graduate programs have home pages on the World Wide Web.

Most students are unfamiliar with the correct way to select - and gain entrance into - a graduate program appropriate to their needs and interests. Begin by studying guides available from Student Involvement and Leadership, 14 Bray Hall. Here are some additional guidelines.

  1. Register for and take the GRE (Graduate Record Exam) ( and/or LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, etc. I recommend taking the GRE general (Verbal, Quantitative, Analytical) in November and the advanced (Biology) in December. There is often quite a lot of Genetics, a course which you may not have taken yet, on the exam. A thorough review of a good General Biology text should help you to achieve a higher score. Many colleges look carefully at GRE scores to decide on admissions, assistantships and even awards during your graduate program.. Some institutions also require a specialty examination (e.g., Biology).
  2. Use EFB faculty from your concentration area, graduate school flyers, and Peterson's Guide to Graduate Study ( to identify a school, researcher, or topic of interest for graduate study. The stronger your interest is in a particular university, a certain researcher, a given taxon, a biological concept or process, or a geographic area, the better your chances of conveying that interest and focus to the application review committee.
  3. Write specific professors inquiring about their current research and anticipated assistantships for the semester or summer when you would like to matriculate. A departmental representative or a selection committee chairperson may answer you instead. At most schools more emphasis is placed upon the research and subdiscipline in which you wish to work, than the department as a whole. Don't neglect considering graduate work at ESF - there are both pros and cons to continuing where you get your B.S. degree. Follow this correspondence with a request to visit the department, preferably a potential faculty advisor ("major professor"), at 2-4 programs in which you are most interested. Above all, do not submit a single generic application to one department and expect it to gain you acceptance and support at a graduate school, unless your credentials are truly outstanding.
  4. Typically, financial support for graduate-level work and study are of three types: fellowships (the graduate version of scholarships), teaching assistantships, and research assistantships. Each has its own merits; but if you want to do research, you'll need a stipend (living allowance) and possibly money for equipment, supplies, travel, and publication. Awards may or may not include full tuition costs. You should make an effort to know what funds will be available to you and compare offers from graduate schools accordingly.
  5. A near-complete library of graduate school catalogs is available in 110 Bray along with the ETS and Peterson's Guides to graduate programs. Also, handouts in the Office of Student Affairs, 110 Bray, discusses graduate school selection along with other topics including "Dual Career Couples".

Want Some Employment Ideas? 

Below are some examples of job titles held by EFB graduates (B.S., M.S., or Ph.D.)

  • Agricultural Extensionist
  • Agriculture Researcher
  • Agronomist
  • Air pollution control
  • Animal caretaker
  • Animal control supervisor
  • Animal ecologist 
  • Animal physiologist
  • Animal scientist
  • Aquarist
  • Aquatic biologist
  • Aquatic biologist
  • Aquatic ecologist 
  • Assoc. Zoo director
  • Biol. Electron microscope opr. 
  • Biology teacher
  • Biometrician
  • Botanist
  • Botanist
  • Clinical laboratory investigator
  • Coastal zone resources specialist
  • Commercial fisherman            
  • Conservation biologist
  • Conservation educator
  • Conservation exhibit specialist
  • Consulting biologist
  • Cooperative extension agent
  • Crop protection advisor
  • Cytologist
  • Ecological inventory researcher
  • Ecological modeler
  • Ecosystem analyst
  • Entomologist
  • Environmental analyst
  • Enviro. Assessment specialist
  • Enviro. Biology scientist
  • Enviro. Conservation officer
  • Extension wildlife specialist
  • Fish hatchery manager
  • Fish Farmer
  • Fisheries biologist
  • Fish pathologist   
  • Forest entomologist
  • Foreign fisherman observer
  • Geneticist
  • Game biologist
  • Horticulturist
  • Greenhouse manager
  • Insect control evaluator
  • Ichthyologist
  • Junior biological scientist
  • Invertebrate ecologist
  • limnologist
  • Environmental consultant
  • Enviro. Education specialist
  • Enviro. Protection specialist
  • Environmental impact analyst
  • Fish & wildlife ecologist
  • Laboratory animal supervisor
  • Marine mammal keeper
  • Mammalogist
  • Medical laboratory tech.
  • Marine resources specialist
  • Microbiologist
  • Medical technologist
  • Natural resources specialist
  • Mycologist
  • Nursery agronomist
  • Naturalist
  • Oceanographic ecologist
  • Nursery operations manager
  • Ornithological field researcher
  • Ornamental horticulturist
  • Park naturalist
  • Ornithologist
  • Pathologist
  • Park Ranger
  • Pesticide education specialist
  • Pest control supervisor
  • Plant breeder
  • Pesticide investigator
  • plant pathologist
  • Plant ecologist
  • plant physiologist
  • Plant propagator 
  • Plant quarantine inspector
  • Preserve manager
  • public health inspector
  • Public health specialist
  • Regeneration physiologist
  • Research biologist
  • Research entomologist
  • Research geneticist
  • Research horticulturist
  • Research plant pathologist
  • Restoration ecologist
  • Sanctuary manager
  • Science teacher
  • Sea lion trainer
  • Seed analyst
  • Seed orchard researcher
  • Silviculturist
  • Soil conservationist
  • Soil scientist
  • Technical writer
  • Terrestrial ecologist
  • Toxicologist
  • Tree propagation scientist
  • Vegetation specialist
  • Vertebrate physiologist
  • Veterinary assistant
  • Warm water fish researcher
  • Water quality planner
  • Waterfowl biologist
  • Weed control supervisor
  • Wetlands ecologist
  • Wildlife conservation specialist
  • Wildlife biologist
  • Wildlife researcher
  • Wildlife manager
  • Zoologist
  • Zoo curator