An environmental scientist researches, gathers, and analyzes environmental data. The data could pertain to air, water, or soil contamination. They help organizations protect nature by developing ways to minimize environmental hazards, conducting tests, and analyzing data to implement environmental standards.

Environmental scientists are employed by government agencies, construction, and mining companies, or environmental consulting firms. A successful environmental scientist must possess excellent communication skills, critical and analytical thinking, and demonstrate attention to detail.

Environmental scientists work full-time in offices and laboratories. 40 hours a week on a Monday to Friday schedule. However, this earns them an average of $28.94 per hour.

What Does an Environmental Scientist Do

Environmental scientists and specialists use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment and human health. They may clean up polluted areas, advise policymakers, or work with industry to reduce waste.

Learn more about what an Environmental Scientist does

How To Become an Environmental Scientist

For most jobs, environmental scientists and specialists need at least a bachelor’s degree in a natural science.

Learn More About How To Become an Environmental Scientist

Environmental Scientist Career Paths

Average Salary for an Environmental Scientist

Environmental Scientists in America make an average salary of $60,208 per year or $29 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $84,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $43,000 per year.
Average Environmental Scientist Salary
$60,208 Yearly
$28.95 hourly
10 %
90 %

What Am I Worth?


Environmental Scientist Education

Environmental Scientist Majors

16.9 %
11.7 %

Environmental Scientist Degrees


80.9 %


11.7 %


5.0 %

Top Colleges for Environmental Scientists

1. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition

2. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition

3. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Private

In-State Tuition

4. University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, CA • Private

In-State Tuition

5. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition

6. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition

7. University of California - Davis

Davis, CA • Private

In-State Tuition

8. SUNY Stony Brook

Stony Brook, NY • Private

In-State Tuition

9. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI • Private

In-State Tuition

10. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition

Top Skills For an Environmental Scientist

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 6.7% of environmental scientists listed environmental compliance on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and communication skills are important as well.

Choose From 10+ Customizable Environmental Scientist Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Environmental Scientist templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Environmental Scientist resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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Environmental Scientist Demographics

Environmental Scientist Gender Distribution


After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among environmental scientists, 38.3% of them are women, while 61.7% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among environmental scientists is White, which makes up 86.8% of all environmental scientists.

  • The most common foreign language among environmental scientists is Spanish at 52.1%.

Online Courses For Environmental Scientist That You May Like

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Global Environmental Management

Learn about the best environmental technologies for a sustainable development and how they are managed in various settings around the world. This course gives you an opportunity to learn about global trends that influence our environment and the living conditions and how different management systems and approaches that are used around the world to manage the environment. This includes current environmental technologies built for the environment and technologies for sustainable soil management, g...

ISO 14001:2015 Environmental management system

How to implement an Environmental Management System and obtain ISO 14001:2015 certification...

Environmental Protection and Sustainability
edX (Global)

Do you want to understand more about the environmental problems we currently face? Do you want to learn ways we can reduce the negative effects of these problems, and keep our environment more sustainable? If so, this course is for you. In this multi-disciplinary course, we will discuss major challenges facing environmental protection efforts. In doing so, we'll bring together various aspects from three themes: Biological, Physical, and Human. The Biological theme focuses on the importance of...

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Full Time
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Best States For an Environmental Scientist

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as an environmental scientist. The best states for people in this position are California, Washington, Oregon, and Massachusetts. Environmental scientists make the most in California with an average salary of $77,130. Whereas in Washington and Oregon, they would average $74,730 and $69,785, respectively. While environmental scientists would only make an average of $69,234 in Massachusetts, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Oregon

Total Environmental Scientist Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

2. West Virginia

Total Environmental Scientist Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

3. Washington

Total Environmental Scientist Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Full List Of Best States For Environmental Scientists

How Do Environmental Scientist Rate Their Jobs?

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Environmental OfficerFebruary 2021


Zippia Official LogoEnvironmental OfficerFebruary 2021

What do you like the most about working as Environmental Scientist?

Firstly, the most important is to protect our planet for us and the future generations. Secondly our planet is not going to support the pressure and negative impacts because of the big Increased human population . Finally our planet needs more and more environmental specialists to regulate and control all human activities, especially the ilegal ones. Show More

What do you NOT like?

I don’t like when big companies they know what’s wrong and what’s right, but still the destroy, like cutting trees in Brazil and the other side big companies even knowing those trees are ilegal, but still they continuing to porches. There for I can’t understand and I don’t like. Show More

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Top Environmental Scientist Employers

Most Common Employers For Environmental Scientist

Rank  Company  Average Salary  Hourly Rate  Job Openings  
1CDM Smith$80,204$38.5623
2Jacobs Engineering Group$78,344$37.6728
6Gannett Fleming$68,126$32.7526
9U.S. Environmental Protection Agency$67,039$32.2370
10Tetra Tech$65,997$31.7398

What are the best companies to work for an Environmental Scientist?

William R. Schubert

Adjunct Professor, Benedictine University

I always advise entry-level environmental professionals that there are two general areas of practice in environmental science: Pollution Control and Conservation. Entry-level jobs will tend to take you into one area of practice or the other. Fortunately, for current job seekers, I think the job markets in both areas will be growing over the next several years. This is due to predictions for a greater focus on energy/climate matters and more vigorous infrastructure spending.

Those interested in Pollution Control practice will find entry-level positions in both private and public sector organizations. Given the volatile recycling and energy markets, many industrial manufacturers will be hiring waste managers to make the best environmental and economic decisions about the final destination of their wastes. The USEPA and state regulators will also be watching this closely and hiring entry-level regulators. Large industrial manufacturers (e.g., GE, Caterpillar) and utilities (e.g., Exelon, PSE&G, Mid-America) tend to offer more career paths for young professionals. Private sector service providers (e.g.. Waste Management, Veolia) will be outstanding opportunities for young professionals. Environmental consultants will also hire environmental science majors to provide these types of services to the small and mid-size industries.
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Environmental Scientist Videos

Becoming an Environmental Scientist FAQs

How do I start a career in environmental science?

To start a career in environmental science, it's important to get postsecondary education and gain relevant experience and skills.

Most people in environmental science take on internships to do with environmental engineering or quality control. They usually also take job positions like an environmental scientist, environmental specialist, or laboratory technician.

How hard is it to be an environmental scientist?

It can be hard to be an environmental scientist if you don't have at least a bachelor's degree in environmental science or a science-related field such as biology, physics, and geosciences.

How long does it take to become an environmental scientist?

It takes about 4-6 years to become an environmental scientist after high school. Furthermore, it can take additional years to teach at universities or be more qualified for research positions.

What degree do you need to be an environmental scientist?

You need a bachelor's degree in environmental science to be an environmental scientist. A bachelor's degree in another resource-related field can also be acceptable.

While this is the bare minimum degree needed to become an environmental scientist, most have advanced degrees, such as a master's, in the field.

Where do environmental scientists get paid the most?

Environmental scientists get paid the most in construction, with an average salary of $66,950. The technology and professional industries follow after, offering $62,267 and $57,521, respectively.

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