How to Become an Environmental Scientist


Career Path Guide

Becoming an environmental scientist is a fitting career choice if you're passionate about science and the environment. It's also a great choice if you're interested in a career that invovles advising the public and private organizations on matters concerning the relationship between industry and the environment.


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



Education Needed to Become an Environmental Scientist

To get an entry-level job as an environmental scientist, you need to begin by earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science, Biology or a closely related field such as Botany.


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


To work in research and university teaching positions, a Ph.D. in environmental science or a closely related field is needed.





General Job Description

Environmental scientists may work in research, consulting or teaching capacities. They usually focus their work in subspecialties such as geology, hydrology or ecology depending largely on their interests or training. Environmental scientists generally participate in field research, environmental impact studies and education.



Typical Job Duties

• Perform lab and field research

• Use technical instruments to collect field data

• Perform statistical analysis of findings

• Prepare reports and give presentations based on findings

• May be involved in pollution monitoring

• Adhere to research standards as directed by the publication they are contributing to

• Confer with other scientists and professionals 



How to Get a Job as an Environmental Scientist

Once you have the proper education, research experience and you've developed a career focus, there will be just one more step; you have to nail the interview...once you earn one.


First, make a list of possible employers and suitable positions, and start handing out resumes. Do your research and figure out which companies are hiring environmental scientists, analysts and related positions; these employers will be in a variety of sectors.



What Types of Employers Are There?

There are many organizations representing a variety of industry sectors that are interested in acquiring and retaining individuals with the skills, knowledge and competencies that environmental scientists have; examples include:


• Scientific and technical consulting services

• Architectural and engineering firms

• Federal, provincial/state and municipal government

• Conservation agencies

• Colleges and universities

• Land use organizations

• Oil, gas and mining companies





Characteristics Needed to Be Successful

• 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

• Physical stamina for fieldwork



Average Salary

Environmental Scientist Salary - Canada: According to ECO Canada, Environmental Scientists (which includes environmental analysts) in entry-level positions with an undergraduate degree make an average of $42,000 per year in Canada. ECO Canada also reports that with more education and experience, environmental scientists can earn up to $75,000 per year.


Salary - United States: In the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that workers in the Environmental Scientists and Specialists occupational group earned a median salary of $61,700 USD per year.


Please Note: The salary levels of environmental scientists can vary greatly, depending on such factors as their level of education, experience and who their employer is.



Environmental Scientist Jobs

Although job opportunities in this field are rarely posted online, from time to time they will be. Have a look below to see if there’s anything listed in your area:





Similar Occupations in Our Database

Listed below are occupations that are similar in nature to that of "environmental scientist", as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.




Environmental Analyst

Environmental Impact Assessment Specialist





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


Occupations in Alberta:Ecologist.” (March 31, 2019). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved November 16, 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 16, 2019.

Career Profiles:Environmental Scientist.” (n.d.). ECO Canada website. Retrieved November 16, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming an Environmental Scientist

Scholarships in our database that are relevant for becoming an environmental scientist are all of those found on our Environmental Engineering Scholarships, Environmental Science Scholarships and Geology 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 for getting started in this field. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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