How to Become an Environmental Chemist


Career Path Guide

To become an environmental chemist, you first need to determine if this career path will be a suitable choice for you. Are you interested in applying your knowledge of chemical properties and substances for the betterment of the environment?


How about working with other environmental scientists to promote environmental sustainability, conservation, and protection, as well as to formulate regulations to protect the environment? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to these questions, then this vocation might be very well suited to you.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to succeed in a career as an environmental chemist. We've also included helpful information for an environmental chemist career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become an Environmental Chemist

To get an entry-level job as an environmental chemist, you need to begin by earning a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental chemistry or a closely related field such as organic chemistry, chemistry or chemical engineering.


To work as a consultant you will need a master’s degree in environmental chemistry or a closely related field, or have a degree in chemical engineering.


To work in research and university teaching positions a PhD in environmental chemistry or a closely related field is needed.





More About this Career: General Job Description

Environmental chemists conduct research on the impact of human activity in relation to the quality of air, soil and water. The must gather and test soil samples, design production systems which minimize pollution and develop strategies for efficient waste disposal.



Typical Job Duties

• Study where chemicals show up in streams, rivers, and air

• Develop chemical products that have a reduced impact on the environment

• Assist in the development of production processes which allows the chemical to be manufactured at the site where it is used, avoiding the risks of shipping and storing

• Help design pollution abatement systems that minimize the amount of chemicals escaping into the environment

• Develop remediation systems to clean up contaminated areas



Who Employs Environmental Chemists?

Environmental chemists may be hired on full-time, part-time or on a contractual or consulting basis with the following types of organizations:


• Federal, provincial/state, and municipal governments

• Colleges and universities

• Private research institutes

• Biotechnology firms

• Waste management firms

• Environmental conservation organizations

• Environmental consulting firms

• Agro-chemical companies

• Forensic labs

• Private firms in other industries (Oil, gas and mining companies, pharmaceutical companies)





Average Salary Level

The salary level of environmental chemists can vary quite a bit, depending on many factors, including the environmental chemist’s level of experience and education, where they work, and many others.


Environmental Chemist Salary Canada: According to ECO Canada, An environmental chemist in an entry-level position will make between $43,500 and $50,500 per year in Canada.  With additional experience and education, environmental chemists average around $63,500 per year.


Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in the Environmental Scientists and Specialists occupational group, which includes environmental chemists, earn a median salary of $61,700 per year.



Characteristics of Successful Environmental Chemists

• An interest in nature and the environment

• An objective approach to work and research activities

• The ability to learn quickly

• Utilize logic to solve complex problems

• Excellent oral and written communication skills

• The ability to work independently and as part of a team

• A strong interest in chemistry and its applications to bettering the environment



Current Job Openings

Our job board below has "Environmental Chemist" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, when available:




Similar Careers in Our Database

Listed below are jobs that are similar in nature to 'environmental chemist', as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Chemical Oceanographer


Agricultural Chemist

Environmental Scientist

Organic Chemist




Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as an environmental chemist.


Occupations in Alberta:Chemist.” (March 5, 2018). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved November 14, 2019.

Life, Physical, and Social Science:Environmental Scientists and Specialists.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved November 14, 2019.

Future:Environmental Chemist.” James Lymer (n.d.). Royal Society of Chemistry website. Retrieved November 14, 2019.

Career Profiles:Environmental Chemist.” (n.d.). ECO Canada website. Retrieved November 14, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming an Environmental Chemist

Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming an environmental chemist can be found on our Chemistry Scholarships and Environmental Science Scholarships pages.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming an environmental chemist. 


Top Banner Image: