How Do I Become An Environmental Scientist?

The field of environmental science offers numerous employment options in different specialties for individuals interested in the health of the environment and its impact the earth’s inhabitants. “What is an environmental scientist, what does the job entail, what are the education requirements and how do i become an environmental scientist?”

What is an Environmental Scientist?

The role of an evironmental scientist is determined by the specialty chosen. Environmental health, environmental chemistry and atmospheric science are only a few the specialty areas of environmental science. While each specialty requires different areas of expertise to become an environmental scientist, workers in this field generally engage in similar activities that lead to discoveries about the health of the planet and how those conditions affect the population. Discovering solutions to environmental concerns through field research and scientific study motivates many individuals to become an environmental scientist, as well as a desire to maintain the earth’s resources for future generations.

Education Requirements

The diverse field of environmental science provides entry-level positions for workers with a bachelors degree in environmental science or a degree in a related subject area such as natural science, biology, chemistry or ecology. Advanced positions in this field usually require a masters degree or doctorate study. Accredited programs are available at campus-based colleges and universities and online degrees provide a convenient option for busy working students to become an environmental scientist.

Typical courses required to earn a degree in environmental science include, physics, geology, chemistry and biology. Math is also a strong component of any science degree as well courses that develop analytical and problem-solving skills. Courses related to different specialties may include, waste management, health sciences, ecology and marine biology. Courses introducing environmental regulation and policy are often included in masters level programs, in addition to courses in environmental ethics.

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that students with classroom and field experience in data analysis, geographic information systems and computer modeling are best prepared for an entry into the field. Workers with experience in foreign language, cultural studies and international relations may be well-suited for work opportunities with international consortiums that focus on solutions to environmental concerns.

Salary and Employment

According to the BLS, as of 2010, the annual median wage for environmental scientists was $61,700 and jobs are expected to increase by 19 percent between 2010 and 2020. Federal and state governments employ the largest percentage of workers, with the not-for-profit sector employing the second largest group.

Excellent job opportunities are predicted in the field for environmental consultants as a result of increased public interest in environmental hazards and safety, in addition to the rise in international legislation affecting environmental law and regulations.

Individuals with a degree in the field and experience through previous work or volunteerism may receive priority interest from hiring organizations. For recent graduates, career counselors working through the university or college career center is an essential resource for pursuing employment to become an environmental scientist. Graduates interested in working primarily in research may find opportunities through the National Institutes of Health or other research institutions.