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Any­one who enjoys nature and the out­doors might like to work pro­fes­sion­al­ly in these areas. Envi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tists and spe­cial­ists are peo­ple who learn about the nat­ur­al sci­ences and focus on pro­tect­ing the envi­ron­ment and the health of humans and ani­mals. Sci­en­tists work­ing in this area might devote their time to find­ing ways to reduce waste and increase recy­cling, clean up the plan­et and pre­vent pol­lu­tion, and make new poli­cies to pro­tect the envi­ron­ment. Envi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tists have to go to col­lege to earn a bach­e­lor’s degree in envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence or per­haps a degree in micro­bi­ol­o­gy, ecol­o­gy, zool­o­gy, chem­istry, or soil and plant science.

What Does an Environmental Scientist Do?

Envi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tists might do many dif­fer­ent activ­i­ties as a part of this job. Research and inves­ti­ga­tion can be an impor­tant task for an envi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tist. These sci­en­tists also tend to spend time work­ing out­doors in var­i­ous nat­ur­al areas, col­lect­ing sam­ples of water, soil, food, and oth­er mate­ri­als. Once they’re col­lect­ed, the next task involves ana­lyz­ing the sam­ples to see if any threats to the envi­ron­ment are present. Envi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tists also work to devel­op plans to pre­vent dam­age or to fix prob­lems with pol­lu­tion that already exist. When gov­ern­ment offi­cials are involved with envi­ron­men­tal issues, sci­en­tists and spe­cial­ists work with them to edu­cate them about risks and haz­ards. Envi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tists also write tech­ni­cal reports, and they give pre­sen­ta­tions about their research. Some of the areas where envi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tists may spe­cial­ize include cli­mate change, envi­ron­men­tal health and safe­ty, envi­ron­men­tal restora­tion plan­ning, and indus­tri­al ecology.

Education and Majors

To suc­ceed as an envi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tist, peo­ple need excel­lent prob­lem-solv­ing, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and ana­lyt­i­cal skills. Because these sci­en­tists usu­al­ly work with oth­ers in teams, they also need to be able to work well with oth­er pro­fes­sion­als. It’s also impor­tant for envi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tists to be able to work inde­pen­dent­ly on projects. Becom­ing an envi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tist involves earn­ing a bach­e­lor’s degree in envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence or anoth­er sci­ence field such as chem­istry, physics, biol­o­gy, engi­neer­ing, or one of the geo­sciences. After earn­ing a bach­e­lor’s degree, it may be nec­es­sary to earn a mas­ter’s degree to advance in this field. While study­ing to become an envi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tist, a stu­dent will learn about the nat­ur­al sci­ences and envi­ron­men­tal poli­cies and reg­u­la­tions. Many stu­dents also par­tic­i­pate in intern­ship pro­grams so they can work in the field to get even more expe­ri­ence. Once envi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tists earn their degrees and enter the field, they typ­i­cal­ly work to gain more expe­ri­ence and respon­si­bil­i­ty. Even­tu­al­ly, a sci­en­tist may begin super­vis­ing oth­er tech­ni­cians and sci­en­tists as a pro­gram man­ag­er or research leader. Envi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tists may also decide to work as edu­ca­tors at col­leges and universities.

Learn More

Envi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tists and spe­cial­ists are in demand, and peo­ple work­ing in these occu­pa­tions can antic­i­pate excel­lent salaries and oppor­tu­ni­ties for advance­ment, espe­cial­ly for those who have an advanced degree. The Unit­ed States Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics projects that jobs in envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence will grow 11 per­cent between 2016 and 2026, which is faster than the aver­age for all types of jobs. This growth rate is like­ly because peo­ple are becom­ing more aware of and inter­est­ed in haz­ards that pose risks to the envi­ron­ment. As Earth­’s pop­u­la­tion con­tin­ues to grow, it is more impor­tant than ever to find new and effec­tive ways to take care of the envi­ron­ment and the peo­ple liv­ing on Earth. Envi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tists can live and work almost any­where on projects such as con­struc­tion of trans­porta­tion sys­tems and build­ings, pol­lu­tion poli­cies, and envi­ron­men­tal con­ser­va­tion. Many pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions exist that offer sup­port and resources for peo­ple work­ing in this field. These orga­ni­za­tions can also help train envi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tists to earn advanced cer­ti­fi­ca­tions or become ecologists.


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