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Environmental Science Careers

Career Description

Environmental Science Career

Environmental scientists apply their knowledge of nature and its processes to regulate, control and prevent air, land and water pollution. The aim of their research is to identify pollutants and hazards in the environment and develop plans which create a balance between the needs of man and nature.

Educational Requirements

For entry into an environmental science career, you should at least have a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science or a natural science like Biology, Chemistry or Geology. Coursework at college or university level should concentrate on areas such as biology, chemistry, hydrology, fluid mechanics, environmental legislation, hazardous waste management, environmental policy and regulation and geology.

For advancement in the field, you will need a master’s degree and a doctoral degree is needed if you are vying for a teaching or advanced research position.

Skills Required

In addition to academic knowledge of the field, you should also be acquainted with computer modeling, digital mapping, Geographic Information System (GIS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. Other than this, you should have strong analytical, interpersonal, problem-solving and good oral and written communication skills.

Areas of Specialization

You may choose various occupations within an environmental science career, including, among many others, those of:

  • An environmental health specialist;
  • An environmental protection specialist;
  • An environmental chemist;
  • Health and safety consultant; or even
  • An environmental journalist.

What Do They Do?

During an environmental science career, you work tasks may include:

  • Developing data collection tools for research projects or investigations;
  • Collecting environmental data;
  • Developing plans to prevent, fix and control environmental hazards;
  • Analyzing samples and information from surveys or investigations to assess potential environmental hazards;
  • Proposing ways in which threats posed by human interaction with nature can be eliminated or prevented; and
  • Educating and informing government bodies, businesses and the public about potential hazards and health risks.

Where Do They Work?

Environmental scientists work in laboratories and offices but spend quite a lot of time doing fieldwork and collecting data. They are employed by the state, local and federal governments, architectural engineering firms and related services or management, scientific and technical consulting services.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual pay of an environmental scientist in May 2011 was $61,700 and the average hourly pay was $29.66 with the lowest 10% earning less than $37,850 and top 10% earning more than $107,990. Job growth is expected to be 16%  between 2010-2020.


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