Career Detail

Environmental Scientist
“The Earth is Our Home”
Make observations and analyze measurements of air, food, water, and soil to determine ways to clean and preserve the environment.
The Job
Environmental scientists conduct research to identify, slow down, and eliminate hazards that affect people, wildlife, and their environments. They often use this understanding to design and monitor waste disposal sites, preserve water supplies, and reclaim contaminated land and water to comply with Federal environmental regulations. They also write risk assessments, describing the likely affect of construction and other environmental changes; write technical proposals; and give presentations to managers and regulators. Environmental scientists who work on policy formation may help identify ways that human behavior can be modified in the future to avoid such problems as ground-water contamination and depletion of the ozone layer. Many environmental scientists and hydrologists work at consulting firms, helping businesses and government agencies comply with environmental policy, particularly with regard to ground-water decontamination and flood control.
Work Environment
Most entry-level environmental scientists spend the majority of their time in the field, while more experienced workers generally devote more time to office or laboratory work.
College Majors
enviornmental science, life science, chemistry, geology, geophysics, atmospheric science, or physics
Minimum Qualifications
Most environmental scientists and hydrologists need a master's degree. A Ph.D. is usually necessary for jobs in college teaching or research. A bachelor's degree in an earth science is adequate for a few entry-level positions.
Personality traits helpful for this career
good interpersonal skills, strong oral and written communication skills
Quick Facts
  • Those involved in field work must have good physical stamina
  • Job prospects are expected to be favorable.
  • Employment of environmental scientists is expected to increase by 25 percent between 2006 and 2016, much faster than the average for all occupations.
  • More Info: American Geological Institute, Internet:
Compensation and Outlook
Median annual wages of environmental scientists and specialists were $59,750 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $45,340 and $78,980. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $36,310, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $102,610.
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BA Degree BA Degree
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