Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Green Job Series: Careers in Water Conservation [Third Installment]

Water conservation requires planning, especially when new communities or large infrastructure projects in drier areas are being developed. In addition, outreach is important to inform the public about water conservation.

This installment of The Daily Leap's green job series profiles key planning and outreach occupations in water conservation.

Planning and Outreach Occupations

Water utilities and government water agencies may employ planning and outreach workers to educate the public about water conservation and to develop and implement conservation strategies. These workers typically are in offices.

Job Duties

Urban and regional planners develop strategies to ensure that there is enough water available to support development. Urban and regional planners have a broad view with respect to community development, and their preparation is essential to ensure efficient use of water.

Operations research analysts decide how to allocate water when communities or new structures are being planned, and help utilities and other organizations figure out the most effective way to distribute water. They evaluate costs and benefits of water projects and work with scientists, engineers, and others to develop solutions to water distribution, sanitation, and conservation problems.

Landscape architects may practice xeriscaping to choose the type and quantity of plants for a landscaped area. Part of their job is to determine how much water their landscapes require and to plan ways to ensure that the land is properly watered and drained. They may plan automatic sprinkler layouts that minimize overlapping spray patterns and that operate at night or in the early morning to minimize water loss through evaporation.

Public relations specialists educate people about water conservation. Because water conservation requires the participation and cooperation of the general public, public relations specialists inform people about what they can do—and what utilities and local governments are doing—to conserve water. Public relations specialists may write materials for media releases, plan and direct public relations programs, and answer media inquiries.


Most urban and regional planners have a master’s degree from an accredited urban or regional planning program. These programs accept students with a variety of undergraduate backgrounds, including economics, geography, political science, or environmental design. Operations research analysts need a master’s degree for most research positions, but a bachelor’s degree may be enough for most entry-level positions. Many analysts have a degree in a related field, such as mathematics, statistics, or computer science.

Landscape architects usually need a bachelor’s or master’s degree in landscape architecture. Many employers recommend that prospective landscape architects complete an internship with a landscape architecture firm during their formal education. Public relations specialists typically have at least a bachelor’s degree in public relations, journalism, communications, or a related field. They are then trained on the job for 1 month to 1 year.


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) currently does not have wage data specific to the water conservation industry. The table that follows shows wages for selected planning and outreach occupations in May 2012. The wages shown are median annual wages for the United States as a whole; wages vary by employer and location.

Occupation Median annual wage
Urban and regional planners $65,230
Operations research analysts $72,100
Landscape architects $64,180
Public relations specialists $54,170

For more detailed information on planning and outreach occupations in the water conservation industry, follow the Occupational Outlook Handbook link.

Thursday's water conservation industry series installment: Construction Occupations.

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