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Career profile Environmental Scientist

Also known as Environmental Analyst, Environmental Health and Safety Specialist, Environmental Programs Specialist, Environmental Protection Specialist, Environmental Scientist, Environmental Specialist, Hazardous Substances Scientist, Registered Environmental Health Specialist (REHS), Research Environmental Scientist, Senior Environmental Scientist

Environmental Scientist

Also known as Environmental Analyst, Environmental Health and Safety Specialist, Environmental Programs Specialist

Interests Profile
  • Investigative
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
Pay Range
$42,960 - $129,450 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Active Listening
  • Critical Thinking
Knowledge Areas
  • Mathematics
  • Law and Government
  • Administrative
Core tasks
  • 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.
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What does an Environmental Scientist do?

Environmental Scientists conduct research or perform investigation for the purpose of identifying, abating, or eliminating sources of pollutants or hazards that affect either the environment or public health.

In addition, Environmental Scientists 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.

What kind of tasks does an Environmental Scientist perform regularly?

Environmental Scientists are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • 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.
  • Communicate scientific or technical information to the public, organizations, or internal audiences through oral briefings, written documents, workshops, conferences, training sessions, or public hearings.
  • Provide advice on proper standards and regulations or the development of policies, strategies, or codes of practice for environmental management.
  • Prepare charts or graphs from data samples, providing summary information on the environmental relevance of the data.
  • Conduct environmental audits or inspections or investigations of violations.
  • Monitor effects of pollution or land degradation and recommend means of prevention or control.
  • Design or direct studies to obtain technical environmental information about planned projects.

The above responsibilities are specific to Environmental Scientists. More generally, Environmental Scientists are involved in several broader types of activities:

Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Working with Computers
Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.

What is an Environmental Scientist salary?

The median salary for an Environmental Scientist is $73,230, and the average salary is $80,090. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Environmental Scientist salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Environmental Scientists earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Environmental Scientists earn less than $42,960 per year, 25% earn less than $55,210, 75% earn less than $98,120, and 90% earn less than $129,450.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Environmental Scientists is expected to change by 8.4%, and there should be roughly 9,400 open positions for Environmental Scientists every year.

Median annual salary
$73,230
Typical salary range
$42,960 - $129,450
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
8.4%

What personality traits are common among Environmental Scientists?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as an Environmental Scientist are usually higher in their Investigative, Realistic, and Conventional interests.

Environmental Scientists typically have very strong Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Also, Environmental Scientists typically have strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Lastly, Environmental Scientists typically have moderate Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as an Environmental Scientist tend to value Independence, Recognition, and Achievement.

Most importantly, Environmental Scientists strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Second, Environmental Scientists strongly value Recognition. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious.

Lastly, Environmental Scientists strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Environmental Scientists must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, integrity, and dependability.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Environmental Scientists, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Initiative
Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.

What education and training do Environmental Scientists need?

Many Environmental Scientists will have a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.

Environmental Scientists usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Educational degrees among Environmental Scientists

  • 61.9% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 30.8% earned a Master's degree
  • 7.3% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Environmental Scientists

Environmental Scientists may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as mathematics, law and government, or administrative knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Environmental Scientists might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Mathematics
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Law and Government
Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
Administrative
Knowledge of administrative and office procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and workplace terminology.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Biology
Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.

Important Abilities needed by Environmental Scientists

Environmental Scientists must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Environmental Scientists need abilities such as oral comprehension, written comprehension, and written expression in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Environmental Scientists, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Written Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

Critical Skills needed by Environmental Scientists

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Environmental Scientists frequently use skills like reading comprehension, active listening, and critical thinking to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Environmental Scientists, ranked by their relative importance.

Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Science
Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
Writing
Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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