What Does an Environmental Scientist Do?
Environmental scientists do the vital work of conducting research, analyzing data, and developing plans on how to avoid, repair or minimize hazards that affect the environment and public health. Their research typically involves collecting and analyzing samples from the environment, examining published data from fellow scientists, and exploring ways to help solve pressing issues as broad as deforestation, pollution, and the quality of our water, soil, and air.
After doing scientific work, environmental scientists often have to present and defend their findings and conclusions. Government agencies, policymakers, and business leaders depend on these findings to inform positive actions to help the environment.
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National Average Salary
Environmental scientist salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site zengig.com.
The average U.S. salary for an Environmental Scientist is:
Environmental Scientist Job Descriptions
When it comes to recruiting an environmental scientist, having the right job description can make a big difference. Here are some real world job descriptions you can use as templates for your next opening.
Environmental scientists identify environmental issues that could be harmful to the health of the population, such as pollution, and develop solutions that help protect the environment. To become successful as an environmental scientist, you must have excellent verbal communication, listening, and writing skills, solid critical thinking skills, and exceptional analytical skills. [Your Company Name] is looking for an experienced environmental scientist to help us keep the planet safe through our company’s efforts. If you have experience collecting data and analyzing and developing solutions to the dangers that affect the ecosystem, you might be our perfect candidate.
Typical duties and responsibilities
- Collect and analyze soil, air, water, and other samples from various sites and areas of concern
- Provide scientific support for environmental risk projects
- Perform environmental impact analyses and examine scientific data
- Prepare and write reports and research papers based on findings
- Present findings to policymakers, business leaders, and decision-makers
- Create environmental plans for construction projects
Education and experience
This position requires a bachelor’s degree in environmental science, biology, natural resource management, or a related field, preferably with coursework in chemistry, mathematics, and water/air/soil sciences. Employers often prefer candidates with CES certification and experience as a research assistant, field analyst, or lab technician.
Required skills and qualifications
- Broad knowledge of federal, state, and local environmental regulations
- Experience with ecological surveying and reporting
- Knowledge of various sampling techniques and equipment
- Critical thinking and problem-solving skills
- Robust technical writing, analytical, and communications skills
- Master’s degree in science
- 1+ years of experience working as an environmental science
- Strong handling of raw data
- Ability to think outside of the box for solutions
- Provides field inspection, wetland/stream delineations, and natural resource identification services
- Performs natural resource and permitting compliance assessments, and determines the feasibility of projects based on the analysis of collected natural resource related data
- Assists with the preparation and modification of various natural resources due diligence documents and permit applications
- Effectively uses reports, maps, drawings, engineering plans, tests, and aerial photographs to assess natural resources and their impact on the planning and design of projects
- Conducts environmental due diligence activities including environmental site assessments along with soil, groundwater, and soil gas sampling
- Assists with the planning and execution of field investigations by logging borings, collecting samples, performing field tests, and collecting and recording data
- Monitors construction projects to confirm the contractor or subcontractor has complied with job specifications
- Prepares reports documenting field investigations and analytical results
- Assist in preparation of reports and workplans by learning regulatory requirements
- Performs other duties as requested
- Bachelor’s degree in Soil Sciences, Environmental Science, Biology, Ecology, Environmental Studies, Forestry, Wildlife Biology, Engineering, or related field. M.S. degree preferred, but not required
- 1+ years of related experience
- Wetland delineation certification (preferred)
- Current OSHA 40-hour HAZWOPER certification (preferred)
- Candidates will help support various natural resource and environmental projects
- Field experience of conducting wetland delineations
- Experience in preparing PADEP and USACE natural resource permit applications
- Knowledge of conducting environmental site assessments
- Strong attention to detail with excellent analytical, judgment, and problem-solving capabilities
- Demonstrated ability to follow direction and work independently as well as in a team environment
- Exceptional report writing, organizational, time management, and communication skills
- Candidates must be able to work in the field approximately 50% of the time which requires lifting and moderately strenuous activity
- Working knowledge of computers and GPS mapping
- Possess a valid driver’s license and reliable transportation for remote job site locations
- Position requires work Monday through Friday with occasional evenings and weekends as well as some overnight travel
- Availability and willingness to travel regionally and within the domestic United States
- You will be part of a team that supports a large program where you help document the construction
- Perform permit coordination with project team, develop/manage/track permits using permit tracker
- Coordinate with client peer groups for permitting deliverables
- Manage field team deliverables
- Assist with completing field investigations that may include habitat evaluations for threatened and endangered species and/or evaluation of other potentially sensitive resources
- Compose technical reports presenting results from field investigations and develop appropriate applications/consultations necessary for various regulatory approvals
- Conduct permit compliance tasks, federal/state/local permit applications, agency consultations
- Develop non environmental permit applications and process applications with the associated approval body
- Work includes a mix of field assessments, report/permit preparation and travel (25%)
- Conduct environmental compliance audits, prepare permitting applications, and analyze environmental data for various types of projects, including renewable projects, high-voltage transmission line routing, oil and gas facilities, power generation construction activities, and water treatment facilities
- Experience level: Experienced
- Minimum 3 years of experience
- Education: Bachelors
- Environmental Technician (2 years of experience is preferred)
- Soil Samples
- Environmental Monitoring
- Environmental Testing
- Groundwater Sample
- Environmental Compliance
- Environmental Scientist
- Support projects that include wetland delineation, Section 404/401 permitting, compensatory mitigation projects, SWPPP inspections, NEPA reporting, and Phase 1 ESAs
- Conduct field investigations including wetland and stream delineations, botanical surveys, and threatened and endangered species surveys
- Conduct sampling for surface water, groundwater, and soils in various site settings
- Assist or lead preparation of technical reports, including compiling and analyzing data, preparing exhibits, and writing report sections
- Travel/field work (daytime and overnight) will be required (usually in Southeast U.S.)
- Work outdoors in all weather conditions
- Work with a team of water resources engineers and environmental scientists
- Assist and coordinate with sub-consultants and other regional Wood offices
- Compliance with company safety standards and site safety standards in accordance with Wood policy
Skills and qualifications
- BS in biology/ecology/environmental science/natural resources or equivalent
- Have 5 to 12 years of experience
- Have and maintain a valid driver’s license
- Experience in one or more of the following: wetland delineation, Phase 1 ESA, protected species, botanical surveys, NEPA documentation, and/or wetland and stream restoration
- Proficient in Microsoft Office software (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
- Strong technical writing and communications skills
- An ideal candidate would be a self-starter, open to learn, adaptable to change, have a strong work ethic, and thrives in a dynamic environment with multiple priorities
- Flexible to work outside normal business hours and overtime, as needed
- Communicate effectively, verbally and in writing, with management, staff, and clients
- Ability to apply analytical/scientific thinking to define and solve problems
- Ability to work well in a team environment with a willingness to follow detailed instructions and learn new skills
- Ability to work in a flexible work environment, spending time between working from home, working from an office, and field work
- Ability to execute field and office tasks and operate independently at times – specifically in field setting
- Must pass drug test, background check, and must have a satisfactory driving record in accordance with the Company’s driving policy
- Ability to lift 50 lbs
Additional desired qualifications
- Masters degree – Ecology, Forestry, Biology
- Proficiency in ArcGIS
- OSHA 40 certification
- Experience in the Carolinas
- Hydric Soils training
- Wetlands training
- Certification as a Professional Wetland Scientist (PWS)
- Certified Ecologist
- Certified Wildlife Biologist
Candidate Certifications to Look For
- Certified Environmental Scientist (CES). The National Registry of Environmental Professionals offers the CES credential to environmental professionals who possess an in-depth understanding of the basic principles of environmental science. Topics included are air, water, waste, brownfields, green chemistry, radiation, and more. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree in an environmentally related discipline. Three years of work experience may be substituted for each year of an academic degree program. Certification is awarded upon passing an exam.
- Certified Environmental and Safety Compliance Officer (CESCO). The CESCO certification is designed to help environmental professionals gain a deep understanding of the laws and regulations that pertain to air, water, wastewater pollution, solid/hazardous wastes, and safety. The minimum requirements are two years of experience working in an environmental and/or safety-related industry. Candidates must receive a 75% or better on an online examination. Topics include environmental, health, and safety auditing, hazardous material and regulations, and environmental site assessments.
Sample Interview Questions
- How do you explain what an environmental scientist does?
- Why did you get into this field?
- What is your greatest accomplishment as an environmental scientist?
- What size research teams have you worked with? How did you get along with them?
- How familiar are you with the soil types found in this area?
- What do you think is the most important environmental issue we are currently experiencing?
- How would you determine the pollution level in a given body of water?
- What’s the most rewarding experience you’ve had while working as an environmental scientist?
- How do you stay on top of current issues in environmental science and in the legislature?
- Have you ever conducted fieldwork? If so, where?
- What is the Toxic Substances Control Act?
- Are you familiar with the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts?
- How do you assess the risks to plants and animal species in a given area?
- What experience do you have preparing and submitting field research reports?
- What are the most common contaminants present in the area?