Environmental Scientist

Environmental scientists study the effects of human activities on the environment by conducting tests and analysing data. With increased pressure on industry and governments to reduce any of the harmful effects of their activities on the world we all live in, there is now more demand than ever for the information and data that environmental scientists generate.

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Introduction

Environmental science concerns itself with the impact of human activity on the environment and deals with subjects such as chemistry and biology, both in the field and in the lab. They gather up samples and observational data in the field and conduct tests in the lab. For example, they often analyse water and soil for pollution caused by industry and agriculture. They will test water, soil or air samples to find the type, concentration and source of the pollution. The environmental scientist will then undertake a rigorous assessment to identify if that contaminant source has the potential to affect or harm individuals and communities.

    Alternative job titles

  • Environmental consultant
  • Ecologist
  • Water quality scientist

What the job involves

  • Conduct field surveys: collecting data to establish a baseline condition for levels of pollution or contamination for a site or area of consideration
  • Conduct lab tests on water, air and soil
  • Interpreting data to identify whether contamination exists in accordance with environmental laws
  • Build conceptual models that identify the potential contaminant sources that could potentially have an adverse impact on the environment
  • Write detailed scientific reports
  • Communicate the results

How your career can develop

A career as an environmental scientist offers the opportunity for a structured professional path with the potential to specialise in an area of interest such as lab manager, project manager, field scientist, environmental consultant or environmental engineer.

Why it matters

Environmental scientists have a huge role to play in the continuing expansion of renewable energy and making it commercially attractive in addition to being environmentally beneficial.

Skills

  • Communication skills
  • Teamwork skills
  • Investigative skills
  • Interested in statistics
  • Interested in ecology and the biosphere
  • Innovative thinking
  • Observation skills
  • Critical thinking

Typical employers

  • Manufacturers
  • Government and semi-State bodies
  • Environmental groups
  • Wildlife conservation groups
  • Universities

Typical salary

  • Graduate/Starting €32,000
  • Senior/Potential €52,000+ after 8 years

Typical qualifications

New entrants to this field of science typically have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject, such as environmental science, environmental engineering, environmental bioscience. It is common for environmental scientists to have achieved a postgraduate qualification.

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