Environmental scientists look for ways to solve the problems endangering the earth and its inhabitants by conducting research, interpreting findings and presenting this information to appropriate agencies. To determine if being an environmental scientist is in your nature, read the following pros and cons.
|Pros of an Environmental Science Career|
|Opportunity to improve the state of the planet*|
|Mean annual salary was $72, 050 in 2014, though there is the potential to earn more than $114, 990, annually*|
|Full-time positions common*|
|Knowledge to solve large-scale problems affecting human health*|
|Healthy job growth (15% between 2012-2022)*|
|Cons of an Environmental Science Career|
|Grueling fieldwork, particularly in bad weather*|
|Irregular or long hours when conducting field work*|
|Graduate degree is necessary for many jobs (requiring 2-3 years for a master's degree and an additional 3-6 years for a doctoral degree)**|
|Experience as an assistant researcher or lab technician might be required for entry-level employment*|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **University of California
Job Description and Duties
Environmental scientists must collect and analyze data from pollution emission measurements, atmospheric conditions and soil and water samples in order to determine how human activities affect the environment. They then relay the information to different agencies and to the public. Environmental scientists might also be asked to develop programs to decrease the impact of industry on the environment or outline production plans that cause the least amount of damage to the ecosystem. Along with research, environmental scientists perform environmental audits, investigate violations and give advice on the development and prosecution of regulatory cases. Evaluating and implementing environmental guidelines, policies and formal regulations also fall under the duties of an environmental scientist.
Some environmental scientists might choose to focus their work in more specific aspects of the field. You can also enter into specialized areas by earning a degree in an area of life science or physical science and then center your work on solving specific environmental problems. For example, atmospheric scientists study ozone depletion, solar radiation and pollution. Environmental health specialists concentrate on the aspects of the environment that impact human health. Environmental protection specialists study the way human behavior affects the earth, and environmental chemists look specifically at how different chemicals affect the earth.