Staffing Shortages Could Put North Carolina Residents at Risk

The current work environment has put many organizations severely understaffed. The NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is one of those organizations. Nearly 20% of the NC DEQ positions are unfilled. How does that affect you? 

Well, the NC DEQ administers regulatory programs designed to protect air quality, water quality, and the public's health. This means there are fewer people to protect your health and the environment. 

We’re going to explore a few environmental careers, benefits to an employee and why these jobs are important. If you want to skip to the end, I will sum it up for you. We need more employees in the environmental field now!

Why are jobs going unfilled? 

The current labor market allows potential employees to be picky, and typically they are picking organizations that pay more. NC DEQ is paying thousands less than other organizations and can’t compete.  

The fact that so many positions are unfilled also means an increased workload for current staff and longer lead times on environmental permits. Not to mention the current staff is getting paid thousands less than their peers in other organizations. Not only is recruitment a problem, but retention is too. 

Environmental Careers Education and Experience Requirements 

Most of the jobs at the NC DEQ will require a bachelor's degree in one of the agricultural, biological, engineering, environmental or natural resource sciences. One year of experience related to the area of assignment; or an equivalent combination of education and experience may also be substituted in lieu of a degree. We will look at some entry-level environmental careers, their pay and general job duties.

Environmental Field Rep  

Rate of Pay:  $43k-$76K a year 

  • Serve as point of contact during rulemaking processes for 401, isolated, federally non-jurisdictional and riparian buffer rules;
  • Provide leadership and technical expertise on a variety of environmental topics
  • Perform quality assurance investigations
  • Refresh boundary marking for conservation easements and properties
  • Effectively communicate with landowners and interested parties
  • Maintain documentation and records for infrastructure, encroachments, and other relevant geospatial information
  • Maintain database systems and records for properties, landowner contact information, and other relevant information 

Environmental Specialist

Rate of Pay: $43K to $76k annually

  • Conduct wastewater and sewer collection system inspections
  • Assist with the reviews of water quality monitoring data
  • Develop compliance documents to address sewer system overflows, and other water quality standard violations.
  • This includes going to municipalities and other system owners to conduct inspections and judging compliance with environmental permits and analytical data.

State Benefits

The benefits of working for a state organization include retirement savings, 401k, health benefits, vacation and sick time. These are not accounted for in the initial salary offer but need to be considered when deciding if a job is financially feasible. In many cases, 5% savings a year and hundreds of dollars a month in healthcare costs are paid for.  


New employees are needed now more than ever, with 450 current employees becoming eligible for retirement in five years. There is no better time than now to get a job in the environmental field. We encourage you to use the links below to apply for jobs and start your environmental career today!

For more information, visit the following links.