A career in environmental science is challenging and rewarding, one dedicated to identifying the Earth's most pressing environmental needs and working to protect the wildlife and people who depend upon it. An environmental scientist rises from an educational background that draws from the physical, biological and information sciences and use their analytical and research methods to come up with effective and efficient solutions to the environment's problems.
There are a variety of fields in environmental science, with careers that can mean working at the federal, state and local government levels, in an office, in a lab or hospital, at a school or even from home most of the time. In general, an environmental scientist will work for the government or an environmental organization and perform hands-on research that includes testing water and monitoring air pollution. An environmental scientist focuses on the environment itself rather than the animals within it, though as an environmental scientist, it is important to understand the impact that human society and populations have on the world in order to develop solutions that don't just preserve the environment, but also improve and maintain the life of the wildlife and people in it.
Types of Environmental Scientists
There are many different avenues that an environmental scientist can pursue. Assessing your own interests and passions and researching programs and fields that relate to those is the best way to find a job that will inspire you and bring fulfillment to your life. Environmental management and policy employ mathematical and business disciplines, while environmental law merges the sciences and judicial system.
Those branches, however, all originate from the root of environmental science that involves conducting research, maintaining the Earth and atmosphere and keeping the businesses, animals and people on it safe. A person who secures an entry-level position as an environmental scientist with a bachelor's degree will most likely start off conducting phase II site assignments that include collecting soil samples and testing groundwater. Creating records and consolidating data as well as preparing reports and data can also be a large part of an environmental scientist's job, so strong written communicative skills are critical so information is delivered as thoroughly but concisely as possible in order to prove as immediately useful and effective as possible.
How can I become an Environmental Scientist?
Conducting research about the various careers and sub-divisions that exist within environmental scientist is the first thing you should do if you're interested in pursuing environmental science as a career. Once you have a generalized idea of what direction you'd like to go in professionally, you'll be able to look for schools that offer programs that will help you realize your goal.
A traditional university program for a Bachelor of Environmental Science is a four-year program and involves many entry-level and intermediate science courses such as Biology, General Chemistry I, Geochemistry, Principles of Ecology as well as classes derived from your chosen specialization. There are many different minors and concentrations to choose from. The online Bachelor of Environmental Science degree offered by Oregon State University offers such concentrations as Applied Ecology and Resource Management, Environmental Conservation and Sustainability, Environmental Policy, Geology, Horticulture and Water Science and Resources among others.
How much does an Environmental Scientist earn?
The median annual salary for an environmental scientist according to the latest report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is $63,570. The federal government employees earned more, with an average income of $95,465 per year. The majority of environmental scientists will work for governments, though there are also positions available in education, management and business depending on your specific career path and degree.
How is the job market for an Environmental Scientist?
The demand for skilled and well-educated environmental scientists is strong, particularly in terms of new and effective waste reduction methods and water usage. The growth rate of the field is expected to grow 15 percent between 2012 and 2022 at a rate that is faster than the average for all other occupations.
The most growth is predicted to take place in private firms that help clients monitor and manage various environmental concerns. There will still be a heavy concentration among government positions and closely related industries such as military, public universities, hospitals and national research facilities.
Finding an Environmental Science Program
Becoming an environmental scientist all begins at university, so finding a college and program that fits you, your interests and career goals is first important decision you'll make. There are both traditional on-campus universities as well as online degrees, and sites like the U.S. News & World Report offer lists on their top choices of the best environmental science programs throughout the country which can help kick start your search and get started on the path that will lead you on a life of curiosity, research and change.