What does an environmental scientist do?
Environmental scientists perform activities and carry out research to recognize, decrease, and eliminate hazards that affect the environment, people, and wildlife. They examine observations and measurements of air, water, soil, food, and other aspects to determine the best way to improve and preserve the environment. They preserve water supplies, monitor waste, and create programs to improve contaminated water and land environments. They also often create programs to help people get more involved in protecting the environment through a variety of efforts such as recycling and conservation. Environmental scientists often prepare reports and assessments on environmental issues. They collaborate with other professionals on creating policies of ways to modify human behavior to avoid harmful environmental effects. Many environmental scientists specialize in areas such as environmental biology, environmental chemistry, fisheries science, and environmental ecology and conservation.
What kind of training does an environmental scientist need?
Environmental scientists usually need at least a master degree in environmental science, chemistry, geology, physics, or related area. A bachelor degree may be sufficient for some entry-level positions. Doctorate degrees are required for research and teaching positions. Aspiring environmental scientists usually complete courses in physical geography, geochemistry, hydrology, geologic data, and hazardous-waster management. Environmental scientists often start their careers in field exploration or research and advance as they gain experience. They must stay up to date on advancements in the field and often complete continuing education throughout their careers.
What are the prospects for a career as an environmental scientist?
Employment of environmental scientists is projects to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 25% from 2006 to 2016 (1). Population growth and increased demand for environmental and water resources will drive job growth.
Job prospects are expected to be good especially for environmental scientists with advanced education and extensive experience. Job openings will also stem from the need to replace environmental scientists who retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.
How much do environmental scientists make?
As of November 2009, environmental scientists with less than 1 year experience earn average annual salaries between $33,497 and $39,332. Those with 1 to 4 years experience earn average annual salaries between $36,048 and $47,831 (2).
A career as an environmental scientist is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in the environment. Environmental scientists must have thorough scientific knowledge and be able to apply scientific principles to a variety of activities. They must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and ability to work as part of a team with a variety of other professionals. They must also have strong written communication skills because they often write technical reports and research proposals.