Research what it takes to become an environmental scientist. Learn about job duties, career outlook, salary and education requirements to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering .
Environmental scientists research and study samples of air, water and earth to find ways of preventing hazardous materials from damaging the environment and hurting people and wildlife. The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.
|Degree Required||Bachelor's degree for entry-level jobs; master's degree commonly required|
|Education Field of Study||Environmental science, Earth science|
|Key Skills||Collect and analyze environmental samples; monitor environmental conditions; develop ways to remediate harmful environmental conditions; public speaking|
|Job Growth (2012-2022)||15% for environmental scientists and specialists*|
|Average Salary (2013)||$70, 770 for environmental scientists and specialists*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
What Are the Job Duties of an Environmental Scientist?
Environmental scientists strive to protect and preserve our water, air and earth by keeping them free of contaminants and pollutants. They determine the sources of pollution and take measures to reduce potentially harmful environmental effects. Scientific findings may be shared with the public through conferences, briefings and public hearings.
Various government bodies have enacted legislation designed to prevent contamination of the environment, and they employ environmental scientists to monitor the hazardous waste disposal practices of some companies and manufacturers. Environmental scientists also work for private organizations and consulting firms, and they ensure they are in compliance with the laws. Entry-level environmental scientists work in the field collecting and examining environmental substances in various locations, while those with experience may work regular hours in offices and laboratories.
What Is the Career Outlook?
In 2013, about 87, 380 environmental scientists worked in the United States, with scientific consulting services and state government agencies both employing about 23% of these professionals, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS projects that employment of environmental scientists will grow by 15% from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). Some factors in this projected growth include the need to help businesses comply with clean air and water regulations. Environmental professionals will also be needed to provide strategies in building construction, utilities, transportation and land restoration.
The BLS reports that environmental scientists had an average salary of $70, 770 as of May 2013. Those in scientific consulting averaged $74, 640 annually, while those working for state agencies averaged $59, 280. The highest-paying industries were outpatient care centers and petroleum and coal products manufacturing, both of which paid environmental scientists an average of over $103, 000 a year.
What Educational Requirements Should I Fulfill?
A bachelor's degree in environmental science or in one of the earth sciences is the minimum requirement for aspiring environmental scientists. This is sufficient to prepare you for entry-level jobs in the field. However, it's important to note that many employers seek candidates who have acquired the Master of Science in Environmental Science.
A bachelor's degree program curriculum will offer courses on environmental pollution and control, social science, ecology, biology, chemistry, environmental regulations and watershed hydrology. By going on to a master's degree program, you'll also study such topics as management control systems, environmental risk management, database management systems and research ethics.