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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.