Environmental Scientist and Specialist, Including Health

Air Analyst, Clinical Laboratory Scientist, Clinical Researcher, Compliance Coordinator   More Names
Ecological Modeler, Environmental Consultant, Environmental Designer, Environmental Health and Safety Specialist, Environmental Planner, Environmental Programs Specialist, Environmental Protection Specialist, Environmental Safety Specialist, Environmental Scientist, Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Health, Environmental Services Assistant, Environmental Services Director, Environmental Services Manager, Environmental Specialist, Environmental Systems Coordinator, Hazardous Substances Scientist, Marine Scientist, Pollution Control Chemist, Registered Environmental Health Specialist (REHS), Regulatory Analyst, Research Environmental Scientist, Senior Environmental Scientist, Water Pollution Scientist, Water Pollution Specialist
Description

Conduct research or perform investigations to identify, control, and eliminate sources of pollution and other hazards that affect public health or the environment. Collect, compile, analyze, manage, and report on human health environmental hazards, such as air and water pollution, soil contamination, chemical seepage, or natural element and mineral hazards.

Conduct research or perform investigations to identify, control, and eliminate sources of pollution and other hazards that affect public health or the environment. Collect, compile, analyze, manage, and report on human health environmental hazards, such as air and water pollution, soil contamination, chemical seepage, or natural element and mineral hazards. Work closely with the public, providing and collecting information on public health risks, including guidance on how to protect against risks.

Environmental health scientists and specialists work mainly for private sector companies or federal, state, and local government agencies that are concerned with the connections between human health and environmental hazards.

They use their knowledge of scientific disciplines to collect, study, report, and take action to identify, control, and eliminate sources of pollution and other hazards that affect the health of the population and the environment. Because of the different areas of scientific knowledge that often are required to solve a problem, they often work in specialized teams to accomplish a common goal.

Environmental health scientists and specialists communicate scientific and technical information, guidance, and oversight to governmental agencies, environmental programs, industry, and the general public. They also communicate with the public, private organizations and other audiences through oral briefings, written documents, workshops, conferences, training sessions, and public hearings.

When working for federal, state, and local government agencies, environmental health scientists and specialists may help direct research and determine data collection methods to be used in research projects and surveys. They may prepare charts and graphs from data samples, providing summary information on the environmental relevance of data concerning air and water pollution, soil contamination, chemical seepage, and natural element and mineral hazards (e.g., radiation from natural uranium deposits or spent fuel).

In the process of their work, they also review and implement environmental technical standards, guidelines, policies, and formal regulations; or process and review environmental permits, licenses, and other materials for business and industry. They may investigate and report on accidents affecting the environment, such as a spill from a chemical manufacturing plant. They also will research sources of pollution to determine their effects on the environment and to develop theories or methods to halt and control pollution.

When working for private companies, environmental health scientists and specialists provide oversight and guidance on how to comply with various federal, state, and local laws concerning environmental protection and hazards. They work to ensure that production and distribution processes and procedures, especially for hazardous materials, are safe and secure, and thus of little or no threat to the health of either their workforce or the broader community. They also provide proactive advice and counsel to employers or industry organizations regarding emerging environmental health issues and ways to deal with them.

With experience and continuing professional development, environmental health scientists and specialists would likely be candidates for advancement, including promotions, supervisory and management positions. These possibilities may be further enhanced with more formal education, such as attainment of a master's degree in the environmental health field.

Credentials Needed: A number of states require environmental health scientists and specialists to be state licensed or regulated, especially if they work for a local or state government agency, such as the department of public health or environmental safety. To determine what your state might require for you to work as an environmental health specialist or scientist, check under licensing and registration information with your state's Department of Public Health.

In states that do require licensure or registration, verification of college education and type of degree is common, with a minimum of a bachelor's degree often specified. Other typical requirements include a criminal background check and any history of illegal drug or substance possession or use.

Some states also require a licensure applicant to pass an industry-based certification examination, such as the Registered Environmental Health Specialist/Registered Sanitarian (REHS/RS) examination administered by the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA). This exam and credential are intended to signify that an environmental health professional has mastered a body of knowledge and acquired sufficient experience to satisfactorily perform their work responsibilities in the environmental health field.

In states where the REHS/RS or another certification exam is not required, attainment of this or other industry-based certifications is voluntary. In addition to the NEHA, another organization that sponsors industry-based certifications that may be useful to environmental health scientists or specialists is the National Registry of Environmental Professionals (NREP). This organization offers a number of specialized industry-based certifications including the Registered Environmental Scientist (RES), Certified Industrial Environmental Toxicologist (CIET), and Registered Hazardous and Chemical Materials Manager (RHCMM) credentials.

Some Key Things to Remember: Environmental health scientists and specialists conduct research or perform investigations to identify, control, and eliminate sources of pollution and other hazards that affect public health or the environment. They communicate scientific and technical information, guidance, and oversight to governmental agencies, environmental programs, industry, and the general public.

A minimum of a bachelor's degree in environmental health science, sanitary engineering, or a related discipline is usually required to obtain entry-level employment as an environmental health scientist or specialist. A number of states require environmental health scientists and specialists to be state licensed or regulated, especially if they work for a local or state government agency.

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Job Growth and Wages
Percent Job Growth:  
11% - Average
Typical Wages (National):  
Annual: $52,150 - $91,450    Hourly: $25 - $44
Physical/Medical/Health Requirements

Many environmental scientists, such as environmental ecologists, environmental chemists, and hydrologists, often take field trips that involve physical activity. Environmental scientists in the field may work in warm or cold climates, in all kinds of weather. In their research, they may dig or chip with a hammer, scoop with a net, and carry equipment in a backpack.

Legal Requirements
General/Nationwide
State-Specific
 
      

Career Snapshot

Typical Education:

Bachelor's Degree (High School + 4 or more Years)
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Percent Job Growth:

11% - Average
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Typical Wages:

Annual: $52,150 - $91,450

Hourly: $25 - $44