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Ensuring Our Environment

Do something worthwhile with your career at the Environmental Protection Agency

By Nancy J. Mellem

Since 1970, the EPA has been working for a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people.The EPA employs 17,000 people across the country in their headquarters offices in Washington, DC, 10 regional offices, and more than a dozen labs.Their staff are highly educated and technically trained; more than half are engineers, scientists, and policy analysts. They also employ a large number of legal, public affairs, financial, information management and computer specialists in their mission to protect human health and the environment.

Alfred T. Palmer

Photo credit: Alfred T. Palmer, courtesy of The Library of Congress

A Day in the Life of the EPA

The EPA leads the nation's environmental science, research, education and assessment efforts through the following means.

  • Develop and Enforce Regulations
    The EPA works to develop and enforce regulations that implement environmental laws enacted by Congress. The EPA is responsible for researching and setting national standards for a variety of environmental programs, and delegates to states and tribes the responsibility for issuing permits and for monitoring and enforcing compliance. Where national standards are not met, the EPA can issue sanctions and take other steps to assist the states and tribes in reaching the desired levels of environmental quality.

  • Offer Financial Assistance
    In recent years, between 40 and 50 percent of the EPA's enacted budgets have provided direct support through grants to State environmental programs. The EPA grants to States, non-profits and educational institutions support high-quality research that will improve the scientific basis for decisions on national environ-mental issues and help the EPA achieve its goals.

  • Perform Environmental Research
    At laboratories located throughout the nation, the Agency works to assess environmental conditions and to identify, understand, and solve current and future environmental problems; integrate the work of scientific partners such as nations, private sector organizations, academia and other agencies; and provide leadership in addressing emerging environmental issues and in advancing the science and technology of risk assessment and risk management.

  • Sponsor Voluntary Partnerships and Programs
    The Agency works through its head-quarters and regional offices with over 10,000 industries, businesses, non-profit organizations, and state and local governments, on over 40 voluntary pollution prevention programs and energy conservation efforts. In return, the EPA provides incentives like vital public recognition and access to emerging information.

  • Further Environmental Education
    The EPA advances educational efforts to develop an environmentally conscious and responsible public, and to inspire personal responsibility in caring for the environment.

Publish Information

Through written materials and, the EPA informs the public about our activities. A list of the Agency's publications is available at

Opportunities at the EPA

The EPA does most of its hiring through, but before searching the list, conduct a little research at to see how the EPA has tailored opportunities for every level of career development. Here's a brief list:

Student Opportunities

Internships, fellowships and other opportunities are available in Washington, DC, laboratories, and at regional EPA locations nationwide.


  • National Network for Environmental Management Studies

  • Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Graduate Fellowships

  • Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) Graduate Fellowships

  • Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) Undergraduate Fellowships

  • Public Health Fellowships

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellowships

Student Programs

  • Student Career Experience Program (SCEP)

  • OECA Student Career Experience Program

  • Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP)

  • Student Employment Opportunities

  • Tribal Lands Environmental Science Scholarship Program

  • Resident Research Associate Program

  • Office of General Counsel (OG) Honors Fellowship Program

Graduate Opportunities

Opportunities for graduates are available at EPA with an emphasis on the graduate's career and leadership development.

  • EPA Intern Program (EIP)

  • Presidential Management Fellows Program (PMFP)

  • Office of Research and Development Post Doctoral Program

All information generously provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (

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