Environmental Scientist

Research and Development

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Scientific or AnalyticNature or RecreationSkill Level 5

Environmental scientists study, assess and record features of the environment and develop methods of environmental conservation, and of controlling or minimising the harmful effects of human activity on Future Growth Strong the environment.

Environmental research scientists study and record environmental phenomena, as well as plan ways to reduce the damage that human activity has on the environment. They may study the sources and effects of pollution, or other forms of environmental decay and damage, and work out ways to remedy or prevent this. They identify and analyse the source of pollution, develop ways to combat it, and develop conservation and rehabilitation plans to combat the effects of work undertaken through mining, forestry, construction and agriculture.

Environmental scientists may work for government departments or for private companies working in the mining, construction or land development industry.

Specialisations: Air pollution analyst, Ecologist, Land degradation analyst, Water quality analyst

An ecologist studies the relationship between the environment and the organisms and actions that affect and are affected by it, including animal and plant life, weather patterns, and human activity such as agriculture, urban development and pollution.

Environmental Scientist

Environmental Officer
An environmental officer makes sure that businesses and organisations pursue sound management practices which support plant and animal life.

Knowledge, skills and attributes

  • a logical approach to problem solving
  • technical aptitude
  • good communication skills
  • able to work as a part of a team.

Duties and TasksEnvironmental Scientist at work

Environmental scientists may perform the following tasks:

  • plan and conduct research into the physical and biological nature of the environment
  • undertake laboratory work
  • monitor the environmental impacts of development activities
  • develop ways of minimising the impact of industrial, agricultural and urban processes on the environment
  • develop conservation plans
  • investigate and report on breaches of environmental guidelines
  • run community education programs
  • take part in responding to emergencies, such as chemical spills and accidents
  • analyse pollutants, identify their sources and assess their effects on the environment
  • monitor the effects of pollution and land degradation, and recommend ways of prevention and control
  • rehabilitate land, water and air affected by mining, logging, construction, degradation and pollution
  • conduct research and prepare proposals to lessen the impact of agriculture, grazing, new industrial and other developments on the environment
  • research matters of immediate and long-term importance to governments and communities such as the impact of land clearing on native animals and the impact of waste products on waterways
  • negotiate with, and provide advice to, industry, government and the public on environmental matters such as the management, re-use or disposal of hazardous materials
  • assist in developing policies, strategies and codes of practice on environmental management
    conduct environmental audits.

Working conditions

Environmental scientists work in offices and laboratories, and undertake field work in a range of outdoor locations. They may need to travel throughout the State or across the country to conduct field research. Specific weather conditions are often required in order to undertake research. They usually work regular business hours, but may be required to work longer hours at times.

Environmental scientists usually work with a range of other professional and technical staff. The amount of indoor and outdoor work they do depends on the individual job.

YouTube: The Day in the Life of an Environmental Scientist:


Tools and technologies

Environmental scientists use computers and specialty design and modelling software, as well as sampling and testing equipment, laboratory equipment, and surveying and measuring equipment. They refer to maps and other environmental diagrams. When conducting field research, they are often required to wear safety gear such as hard hats, work boots and high-visibility clothing.

Education and training/entrance requirements

To become an environmental scientist you usually have to complete a degree in science, majoring in environmental science, or a related field.

Did you know ?

hat Whale poo may act as a fertiliser in the world's oceans?
(Source: Australian Antarctic Division: World Oceans' Day)

Iron Whale

Have a look at this story Iron Whales from ABC's Catalyst

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