Environmental Scientist How to Hire, Salary Data, and Job Descriptions

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. 

Sample job description #1

Job responsibilities

  • 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

Job requirements

  • 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

Sample job description #2


  • 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
  • Construction
  • Environmental Testing
  • Groundwater Sample
  • Environmental Compliance
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Construction

Sample job description #3

Key responsibilities

  • 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

Average salary and compensation

The average salary for an environmental scientist is $82,700 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.

LocationSalary LowSalary High
Phoenix, Arizona$82,250$111,250
Los Angeles, California$92,800$125,550
Denver, Colorado$77,350$104,600
Washington, DC$94,200$127,450
Miami, Florida$76,950$104,150
Orlando, Florida$71,000$96,050
Tampa, Florida$71,700$97,000
Atlanta, Georgia$75,200$101,750
Chicago, Illinois$86,450$117,000
Boston, Massachusetts$93,500$126,500
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota$74,500$100,800
New York City, New York$98,400$133,150
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$80,150$108,400
Dallas, Texas$78,050$105,550
Houston, Texas$77,350$104,600
Seattle, Washington$90,000$121,750
National Average$70,300$95,100

Sample interview questions

  • What does an environmental scientist do?
  • What are the principal characteristics of the environment?
  • What interests you about this position?
  • What motivates you?
  • Can you describe when you had to overcome a challenging work situation?
  • What are your greatest strengths and your greatest weaknesses?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • What is your greatest accomplishment as an environmental scientist?
  • How would you describe your teamwork skills?
  • 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?
  • 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?

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