Environmental science is the broad study of the Earth's geologic processes, atmosphere, and ecosystems. Scientists conduct field studies to gather data about the environment and perform laboratory research to explore the different physical and chemical properties of natural elements. There are many different types of environmental science jobs available for qualified scientists in a number of job settings. Scientists might specialize in one or more branches of ecology, hydrology, or another pertinent earth or life science. Environmental science jobs can be found with universities, private research institutions, government agencies, and nonprofit conservation groups.
Research scientists often focus on specific areas of environmental science, such as ecological development, hydrology and water cycles and climate change. Ecology experts study the interactions living things have with their environment and with each other. Hydrologists monitor changes in water temperature and precipitation levels, and climate change environmental scientists attempt to explain global warming patterns and weather phenomena.
Environmental scientists in research positions usually spend significant amounts of time outdoors making observations and collecting samples. They take careful measurements of temperature, barometric pressure, humidity, and other variables. In the laboratory, scientists analyze samples of water, air, soil, and living matter to identify their physical and chemical properties. They track the changes in samples over time and write detailed scientific reports based on their findings.
Many environmental science jobs are found with government agencies and conservation organizations. Conservation scientists investigate the impacts of human activity on specific ecosystems and on the environment as a whole. They may conduct long-term studies of an area, tracking changes in climate, air quality, and populations of plants and animals. Some professionals give tours of national and state parks, educate the public on different ways to conserve resources, and actively engage in environmental cleanup and recycling efforts.
To obtain most environmental science jobs, candidates must hold at least bachelor's degrees from accredited universities. Most employers, especially universities and government institutions, require a scientist to obtain a master's or doctoral degree before conducting independent research. Individuals with doctorates are qualified to teach environmental science courses and lead laboratory teams at colleges and universities.
As the general public becomes more environmentally conscious, the number of environmental science jobs will continue to increase. Experts are needed to create new environmental protection policies, educate the public about conservation and sustainability, and encourage the development of alternative fuel and energy sources. Environmental scientists ensure that businesses and industries can thrive while protecting, rather than destroying, ecosystems and the environment as a whole.