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Become A Project Scientist

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Working As A Project Scientist

  • Getting Information
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
  • Deal with People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • $80,782

    Average Salary

What Does A Project 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.

Duties

Environmental scientists and specialists typically do the following:

  • Determine data collection methods for research projects, investigations, and surveys
  • Collect and compile environmental data from samples of air, soil, water, food, and other materials for scientific analysis
  • Analyze samples, surveys, and other information to identify and assess threats to the environment
  • Develop plans to prevent, control, or fix environmental problems, such as land or water pollution
  • Provide information and guidance to government officials, businesses, and the general public on possible environmental hazards and health risks
  • Prepare technical reports and presentations that explain their research and findings

Environmental scientists and specialists analyze environmental problems and develop solutions. For example, many environmental scientists and specialists work to reclaim lands and waters that have been contaminated by pollution. Others assess the risks that new construction projects pose to the environment and make recommendations to governments and businesses on how to minimize the environmental impact of these projects. Environmental scientists and specialists may do research and provide advice on manufacturing practices, such as advising against the use of chemicals that are known to harm the environment.

The federal government and many state and local governments have regulations to ensure that there is clean air to breathe, safe water to drink, and no hazardous materials in the soil. The regulations also place limits on development, particularly near sensitive ecosystems such as wetlands. Environmental scientists and specialists who work for governments ensure that the regulations are followed. Other environmental scientists and specialists work for consulting firms that help companies comply with regulations and policies.

Some environmental scientists and specialists focus on environmental regulations that are designed to protect people’s health, while others focus on regulations designed to minimize society’s impact on the ecosystem. The following are examples of types of specialists:

Climate change analysts study effects on ecosystems caused by the changing climate. They may do outreach education activities and grant writing typical of scientists.

Environmental health specialists study how environmental factors impact human health. They investigate potential environmental health risks. For example, they may investigate and address issues arising from soil and water contamination caused by nuclear weapons manufacturing. They also educate the public about potential health risks present in the environment.

Environmental restoration planners assess polluted sites and determine the cost and activities necessary to clean up the area.

Industrial ecologists work with industry to increase the efficiency of their operations and thereby limit the impacts these activities have on the environment. They analyze costs and benefits of various programs, as well as their impacts on ecosystems.

Other environmental scientists and specialists perform work and receive training similar to that of other physical or life scientists, but they focus on environmental issues. Environmental chemists are an example.

Environmental chemists study the effects that various chemicals have on ecosystems. For example, they look at how acids affect plants, animals, and people. Some areas in which they work include waste management and the remediation of contaminated soils, water, and air.

Many people with backgrounds in environmental science become postsecondary teachers or high school teachers.

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How To Become A Project Scientist

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

Education

For most entry-level jobs, environmental scientists and specialists must have a bachelor’s degree in environmental science or a science-related field, such as biology, chemistry, physics, geosciences, or engineering. However, a master’s degree may be needed for advancement. Environmental scientists and specialists who have a doctoral degree make up a small percentage of the occupation, and this level of training is typically needed only for the relatively few postsecondary teaching and basic research positions.

A bachelor’s degree in environmental science offers a broad approach to the natural sciences. Students typically take courses in biology, chemistry, geology, and physics. Students often take specialized courses in hydrology or waste management as part of their degree as well. Classes in environmental policy and regulation are also beneficial. Students who want to reach the Ph.D. level and have a career in academia or as an environmental scientist doing basic research may find it advantageous to major in a more specific natural science such as chemistry, biology, physics, or geology, rather than a broader environmental science degree.

Students should look for classes and internships that include work in computer modeling, data analysis, and geographic information systems. Students with experience in these programs will be the best prepared to enter the job market. The University Consortium of Atmospheric Research (UCAR) offers several programs to help students broaden their understanding of environmental sciences.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Environmental scientists and specialists base their conclusions on careful analysis of scientific data. They must consider all possible methods and solutions in their analyses.

Communication skills. Environmental scientists and specialists may need to present and explain their findings to audiences of varying backgrounds and to write technical reports.

Interpersonal skills. Environmental scientists and specialists typically work on teams with scientists, engineers, and technicians. Team members must be able to work together effectively to achieve their goals.

Problem-solving skills. Environmental scientists and specialists try to find the best possible solution to problems that affect the environment and people’s health.

Self-discipline. Environmental scientists and specialists may spend a lot of time working alone. They need to be able to stay motivated and get their work done without supervision.

Advancement

Environmental scientists and specialists often begin their careers as field analysts, research assistants, or technicians in laboratories and offices. As they gain experience, they earn more responsibilities and autonomy, and may supervise the work of technicians or other scientists. Eventually, they may be promoted to project leader, program manager, or other management or research position.

Other environmental scientists and specialists go on to work as researchers or faculty at colleges and universities.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Environmental scientists and specialists can become Certified Hazardous Materials Managers through the Institute of Hazardous Materials Management. This certification, which must be renewed every 5 years, shows that an environmental scientist or specialist is staying current with developments relevant to this occupation’s work.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Some environmental scientists and specialists begin their careers as scientists in related occupations, such as hydrology or engineering, and then move into the more interdisciplinary field of environmental science.

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Project Scientist Jobs

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Average Length of Employment
Project Geologist 3.6 years
Staff Scientist 3.5 years
Project Scientist 3.0 years
Hydrogeologist 3.0 years
Staff Geologist 3.0 years
Field Scientist 1.8 years
Top Employers Before
Internship 6.7%
Fellow 5.6%
Scientist 5.6%
Geologist 2.6%
Biologist 2.1%
Top Employers After
Consultant 6.8%
Scientist 5.5%
Manager 2.6%
Geologist 2.3%

Do you work as a Project Scientist?

Project Scientist Demographics

Gender

Male

61.3%

Female

32.1%

Unknown

6.6%
Ethnicity

White

56.8%

Asian

17.8%

Hispanic or Latino

11.9%

Black or African American

9.6%

Unknown

3.9%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

35.9%

Chinese

12.8%

German

12.8%

Japanese

7.7%

French

5.1%

Dakota

5.1%

Danish

2.6%

Turkish

2.6%

Mandarin

2.6%

Carrier

2.6%

Hindi

2.6%

Polish

2.6%

Arabic

2.6%

Korean

2.6%
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Project Scientist Education

Schools

Pennsylvania State University

10.8%

University of Florida

7.7%

University of Colorado at Boulder

7.7%

Texas A&M University

6.2%

University of California - Irvine

6.2%

Carnegie Mellon University

5.4%

Oregon State University

4.6%

Indiana Institute of Technology

4.6%

University of California - Los Angeles

4.6%

Drexel University

4.6%

Texas State University

4.6%

University of Pittsburgh -

4.6%

Michigan State University

4.6%

Arizona State University

3.8%

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

3.8%

University of California - Davis

3.8%

Eastern Michigan University

3.1%

North Carolina State University

3.1%

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

3.1%

Humboldt State University

3.1%
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Majors

Environmental Science

23.9%

Geology

11.4%

Biology

11.2%

Chemistry

9.2%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

6.5%

Business

5.1%

Ecology, Population Biology, And Epidemiology

4.9%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

3.3%

Physics

3.3%

Meteorology

3.1%

Geography

2.9%

Microbiology

2.7%

Biomedical Engineering

2.0%

Pharmacology

2.0%

Pharmacy

1.6%

Chemical Engineering

1.6%

Public Health

1.4%

Computer Science

1.4%

Civil Engineering

1.4%

Environmental Engineering

1.4%
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Degrees

Bachelors

39.5%

Masters

29.1%

Doctorate

22.3%

Other

6.3%

Certificate

1.6%

Associate

1.0%

Diploma

0.3%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Project Scientist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Project Scientist Intellectual Ventures Property Holdings LLC Bellevue, WA Sep 09, 2016 $132,142
Visiting Project Scientist University of California, Berkeley Berkeley, CA Jan 10, 2016 $119,815
Materials Project Scientist Engineer Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Berkeley, CA Jan 10, 2016 $118,416
Materials Project Scientist/Engineer Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Berkeley, CA Oct 01, 2015 $114,852
Materials Project Scientist/Engineer Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Berkeley, CA Apr 13, 2015 $114,852
Project Scientist Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Los Angeles, CA Feb 28, 2016 $110,011
Project Scientist Stanford University Menlo Park, CA Jan 02, 2016 $110,000
Project Scientist Stanford University/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory Menlo Park, CA Feb 05, 2016 $110,000
Physicist Project Scientist Engineer Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Berkeley, CA Jan 10, 2016 $108,336
Project Scientist Howard Hughes Medical Institute Ashburn, VA Jan 02, 2016 $105,000 -
$125,000
Geological Project Scientist Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Berkeley, CA Oct 01, 2015 $105,000
Geological Project Scientist Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Berkeley, CA Jul 01, 2015 $100,164
Project Scientist Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Los Angeles, CA Jul 06, 2015 $90,000
Project Scientist Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA Dec 13, 2016 $89,324
Project Scientist Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA Jan 15, 2016 $88,150
Project Scientist SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory Menlo Park, CA Feb 10, 2015 $86,652
Biological Engineer Project Scientist Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Berkeley, CA Aug 02, 2016 $85,200
Project Scientist SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory Menlo Park, CA Aug 17, 2015 $85,000
Project Scientist Step II University of California, Berkeley Berkeley, CA Feb 02, 2016 $83,200
Project Scientist I University Corporation for Atmospheric Research Princeton, NJ Oct 28, 2015 $77,800
Project Scientist I University Corporation for Atmospheric Research Princeton, NJ Jan 02, 2016 $77,800
Assistnat Project Scientist University of California, Berkeley Berkeley, CA Mar 01, 2015 $77,200
Project Scientist Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Los Angeles, CA Jul 01, 2015 $75,005
Geological Project Scientist Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Berkeley, CA Jun 20, 2016 $74,631
Project Scientist SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory Menlo Park, CA Jan 07, 2015 $74,520
Project Scientist SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory Menlo Park, CA Jul 01, 2015 $74,520

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Top Skills for A Project Scientist

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  1. Groundwater
  2. Laboratory Specimens
  3. Safety Plans
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Developed and sampled groundwater sampling wells for a variety of analysis related to volatile organic compounds.
  • Generated Health & Safety Plans and Waste Management Plans for environmental investigation sites.
  • Acted as liaison to state and federal regulatory agencies, and performed regulatory interpretation and application to facility processes.
  • Prepared proposals, researched new market areas, advocated federal legislators, wrote Opinion Editorial, organized workshop for stakeholders.
  • Lead instrumentation engineer responsible for oversight and coordination of field-testing.

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Top 10 Best States for Project Scientists

  1. Washington
  2. District of Columbia
  3. Massachusetts
  4. Alaska
  5. California
  6. New Mexico
  7. Rhode Island
  8. Colorado
  9. New Jersey
  10. Connecticut
  • (196 jobs)
  • (19 jobs)
  • (196 jobs)
  • (15 jobs)
  • (602 jobs)
  • (39 jobs)
  • (8 jobs)
  • (43 jobs)
  • (107 jobs)
  • (38 jobs)

Top Project Scientist Employers

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Jobs From Top Project Scientist Employers

Project Scientist Videos

Easy Middle School and Elementary Science Fair Project: Does Air Occupy Space?

Careers In Biomedical Science | Sarah May | Natural Sciences Careers Expo 2015

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