What is an Environmental Health and Safety Scientist?
Environmental health and safety scientists care for the environment and take action to preserve it. Specifically, they conduct research in order to find the cause of pollutants and tactics to eliminate them. They ensure companies and organizations adhere to environmental protection regulations and health standards established for both urban and rural areas.
Additionally, they plan, implement and oversee safety programs designed to improve the air, water or soil of affected environments. They must glean information from varying science disciplines and apply them to samples they collect out in the field. Those samples must be treated with care in the lab, as they could be hazardous.
Proper safety measures must to be taken on the job by environmental health and safety scientists in order to ensure their own safety. Their work is performed in laboratories, offices and field sites.
How to Become a Environmental Health and Safety Scientist
Aspiring environmental health and safety scientists typically pursue degrees in environmental health sciences, in which they focus on the environmental and human impacts of biological, chemical and physical agents.
Students in the major enroll in valuable courses such as principles of environmental health sciences, environmental health in developing areas, principles of toxicology, principles of risk assessment and environmental chemistry. Completion of science courses such as biology and chemistry are also essential. Many aspiring environmental health and safety scientists choose to pursue advanced degrees in order to acquire the knowledge needed to have a greater impact on their profession.
Given the depth of their duties, it’s also important they land internships in order to gain hands-on experience. If they graduate with some work experience in the field, they’ll be more likely to contribute immediately upon their hiring. Those who plan to research and teach pursue doctoral degrees.
Environmental Health and Safety Scientist Career Outlook & Salary
All environmental scientists and specialists will see favorable job prospects in the coming years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, much faster-than-average growth is expected from 2008 to 2018 compared to the national average for all occupations.
Steady growth will come as a result of increasing awareness of environmental degradation and the environmental impact of a growing population that uses more resources. As environmental laws become more prevalent and strict, more specialized individuals will be needed to ensure businesses and organizations are in compliance.
Many environmental and safety scientists are employed by consulting firms, which examine environmental issues for businesses and government. State governments, however, employ the most in the profession (20,140). Environmental health and safety scientists are well paid; the median annual salary for the profession is $61,010 and the top 10 percent earn $107,190 on average.