1). About


Careers in Environmental Science are so varied it is difficult to consider them as one category. You could end up working from home most of the time or traveling around the world on an annual basis. You could be doing desk work, field work, or some combination thereof. Your focus could be mathematical, physical, or written. Of course the majority careers in Environmental Science are some blend in-between.

Those engaged in Environmental Policy, Planning, and Management usually work for a local government and are likely to be engaged in a lot of research intensive work. Environmental Lawyers may be able to get out of the office to the courtroom, or, again, have intensive desk jobs.

Wildlife Managers, Zoologists, and Horticulturists are often thought to have positions which keep them working in a mix of indoors and out, but generally in one location. Oceanographers and Meteorologists could spend their entire careers in the safety of a laboratory working upper level computer models, or much of their time at sea, studying the weather. Microbiologists, Soil and Plant Scientists, and Ecologists could work in remediation efforts, for sanitation companies, in manufacturing, at a university, for many private companies, law firms, not-for-profit groups, or government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Park Service, or the United States Geological Survey.

Knowing what is available to you professionally is half the battle when choosing a career. Finding something you enjoy doing within the broad scope of Environmental Science shouldn't be terribly difficult when there are so many options. Environmental Consultants may have the best of many worlds, setting their own schedules, seeking clients that need their particular form of expertise, and setting their own blend of ideal field work and intellectual work schedule. Find what you enjoy doing, and it shouldn't be “work”, but a career.

Environmental scientists are problem solvers. They research environmental and health problems to determine their causes and come up with solutions. They investigate issues like mysterious deformations in frogs, unexplained cancer occurrences in a neighborhood, or disease in the former asbestos mining town of Libby, Montana.

Environmental scientists conduct research to identify the causes of these types of problems, and how to minimize or eliminate them. They also conduct theoretical research that increases our understanding of how the natural world works. They use what they learn to make recommendations and develop strategies for managing environmental problems.

Environmental science is a holistic and multidisciplinary field that integrates the biological, physical, and earth sciences. Its goal is to understand how earth works and how it supports life. It also aims to identify, control, and prevent disruption to its systems and species caused by human activity.

Environmental scientists use their knowledge of earth's systems to protect the environment and human health. They do this by cleaning up contaminated areas, making policy recommendations, or working with industry to reduce pollution and waste. They may also investigate the source of an environmental or health problem, and devise strategies to combat it.


2). What Does an Environmental Scientist Do?


Environmental scientists conduct research to identify, control, or eliminate sources of pollutants or hazards affecting the environment or public health. Their research generally involves determining data collection methods; collecting and analyzing air, water, and soil samples; analyzing environmental data gathered by others; and analyzing for correlations to human activity. They also need to prepare reports and presentations that explain their findings.

Environmental scientists also develop plans to prevent, control, or fix environmental problems like air pollution. They may also advise government officials that make policy, and businesses that need to follow regulations or improve their practices. Some conduct environmental inspections of businesses. Many assess the potential effects of development projects to prevent creating new problems.

Some environmental scientists and specialists focus on environmental issues, while others focus on issues relating to human health. Either way, they work on critical issues, solving some of the most important problems of our day.


3). Where Does an Environmental Scientist Work?


Most environmental scientists work for federal, state, or local governments, where they conduct research, advise on policy, and verify that businesses are following regulations. As of 2012, most environmental scientists (22%) worked in state government. Another 21% worked for companies providing management, scientific, and technical consulting services. These professionals usually help companies comply with regulations. 14% worked for local government agencies. 10% provided engineering services, and 7% worked for the federal government.

Environmental scientists work in offices and laboratories. While some may gather data and monitor conditions in the field, this is more likely to be done by technicians. Those who do work in the field may find it demanding, and work in all kinds of weather. Travel to client sites or conferences may be required. Most environmental scientists work full time. They may work long or irregular hours in the field.


4). What Is the Average Environmental Scientist Salary?


he average annual salary for environmental scientists was $63,570 in May 2012. Those working for the federal government earned the highest salaries ($95,460). Those working in engineering services earned $67,770. Environmental scientists providing management, scientific, and technical consulting services made $64,940. Those working for local government made $60,280, while those employed in state government made $56,640.


5). Environmental Science Jobs and Job Description


Environmental scientists work in applied fields and interdisciplinary settings analyzing the effects that humans have on our environment and the plants and animals that populate it. From agriculture to healthcare to industry, environmental scientists teach, research, and work in business to help humans understand our work. While tasks do vary significantly from job to job, the scope of an environmental scientist job is listed below:

  • Develop research methods and systems that are best fit for the chemicals and environment that are being researched
  • Use observations, samples, and specimens to collect data
  • Review current scientific literature on an ongoing basis to stay abreast of developments in the field
  • Record and store observations, samples and specimens in the lab and in fieldwork
  • Develop systems to better analyze data
  • Present research findings to internal and external stakeholders through a variety of media channels
  • Communicate with senior scientists and administrators through formal and informal reports

A senior environmental scientist or chief researcher may have the following or similar additional responsibilities, depending on the goals of the project. These additional tasks tend to be focused on project management and budgetary management:

  • Create project timelines and budgetary metrics
  • Ensure quality, integrity, project organization
  • Track field and lab data
  • Manage communications from the work group to stakeholders, senior administrators and the public
  • Supervise field and lab work and overlapping project segments and workgroups
  • Train and supervise administrative support staff
  • Construct grant applications to be awarded funding


6). What Is the Job Demand for Environmental Scientists?


The job outlook for environmental scientists is excellent. Employment is projected to grow 15% from 2012 to 2022, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Issues like climate change and fracking have spurred more public interest in the environment. The country's aging infrastructure will also have to be replaced. These issues will likely fuel job growth.

Many of the new jobs will be in private consulting firms that help clients manage environmental concerns and comply with regulations. However, most of the jobs will still be in government and academia.


7). What Environmental Science Careers Are Available?


Environmental scientists often begin their careers as environmental technicians or research assistants. These professionals can work their way up to supervisory positions over time. Eventually, they may be promoted to program management or research positions. Other environmental scientists and specialists leave the private sector to teach or conduct research as faculty members in academia. Graduate study is often required for advancement, as well as academic positions.


8). How Do I Get an Environmental Science Degree?


Most entry-level jobs require a bachelor's degree in environmental science or related field such as microbiology, chemistry, physics, geosciences, or engineering. Students enrolled in environmental science programs study the sciences broadly, taking courses in biology, chemistry, geology, and physics. They may take more specialized courses in hydrology and waste management as well. Social sciences courses in environmental policy, geography, and public administration are also beneficial for learning about the political and human aspects of the field. Hands-on experience or coursework in computer modeling, data analysis, and geographic information systems is highly desirable.

Master's degrees may sometimes be required for advancement. Environmental scientists aspiring to academic careers will need a doctoral degrees. Those pursuing advanced degrees may do well to major in a specific natural science such as chemistry, biology, physics, or geology, rather than a broader environmental science degree.


9). What Kind of Societies and Professional Organizations Do Environmental Scientists Have?


The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) is the premier professional association for geoscientists of all stripes. It hosts a data hub for information about educational programs and careers. It also provides professional development, publishes Earth magazine, and makes the professional literature available through the GeoRef database.

The National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP) is a multidisciplinary association for all types of environmental professionals. NAEP organizes networking opportunities, including an annual conference and regional meetings and events. It also offers webinars and hosts a career center.