Environmental scientists and specialists use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment and human health. They develop strategies to clean up polluted areas, advise policymakers, and work with industry to reduce waste or hazards. Environmental scientists gather and analyze data to shed light on important questions, including how to prevent or handle environmental problems… then use their findings to inform the public, private industry, government officials, and others about environmental hazards. Day-to-day tasks can vary a lot among these specialists: Climate change analysts study the effects of changing climatic conditions on ecosystems. Environmental health specialists study how environmental factors affect community and individual human health. Environmental restoration planners determine how to clean up polluted sites and assess costs. And industrial ecologists work with industry to develop sustainable and efficient practices that limit adverse impacts on the environment. While environmental scientists generally work full time in an office or laboratory, some head to the field to check out environmental conditions and gather samples of air, soil, water, or food. Most entry-level positions require a bachelor’s degree in a natural science or related field, but a master’s degree is often needed for advancement. Whether teaching or practicing methods to keep our air, water, and land clean and free of health risks, the work of environmental scientists hits home.
What they do:
Conduct research or perform investigation for the purpose of identifying, abating, or eliminating sources of pollutants or hazards that affect either the environment or the health of the population. Using knowledge of various scientific disciplines, may collect, synthesize, study, report, and recommend action based on data derived from measurements or observations of air, food, soil, water, and other sources.
On the job, you would:
Provide scientific or technical guidance, support, coordination, or oversight to governmental agencies, environmental programs, industry, or the public.
Review and implement environmental technical standards, guidelines, policies, and formal regulations that meet all appropriate requirements.
Collect, synthesize, analyze, manage, and report environmental data, such as pollution emission measurements, atmospheric monitoring measurements, meteorological or mineralogical information, or soil or water samples.
Arts and Humanities
Math and Science
arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics
Safety and Government
law and government
listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions
reading work related information
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
People and Technology Systems
thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one
figuring out how a system should work and how changes in the future will affect it
listen and understand what people say
read and understand what is written
Ideas and Logic
make general rules or come up with answers from lots of detailed information
notice when problems happen
add, subtract, multiply, or divide
choose the right type of math to solve a problem
People interested in this work like activities that include ideas, thinking, and figuring things out.
They do well at jobs that need:
Attention to Detail
You might use software like this on the job:
Analytical or scientific software
ADMS pollution modeling software
Lakes Environmental EcoRisk View
Data base user interface and query software
EarthSoft EQuIS Geology
Structured query language SQL
Map creation software
ESRI ArcGIS software
Geographic information system GIS software
bachelor's degree or master's degree usually needed
Get started on your career:
New job opportunities are very likely in the future.