What is this job like?
Environmental scientists find and fix pollution and other environmental problems. They figure out what is in the air, water, and soil to make sure that the environment is safe. They also give advice on how to clean the environment. For example, they might design a safe way to get rid of trash.
Some of these workers mix environmental science with other sciences, such as chemistry or biology. Environmental chemists find out if different chemicals hurt the environment. Environmental biologists focus on protecting animals and plants.
Some environmental scientists help to make laws about protecting the environment. They also help companies follow the laws.
Environmental scientists work in laboratories and offices. They also work outside, taking measurements. They use math and computers.
Environmental scientists sometimes work long hours. Some travel to far away places in trucks and helicopters. They might dig dirt, chip rocks, or do other physical things. Scientists who look for oil often work in foreign countries.
In addition to doing science, many of these workers write reports and help find money for their projects.
How do you get ready?
All of these workers need a college degree. Most need an advanced degree—either a master's, which takes about 5 or 6 years of college, or a doctoral degree, which takes longer.
In college, these workers study geography, environmental science, chemistry, biology, earth science, and physics. They also study math and statistics so that they can understand measurements and data. People who want to make laws about protecting the environment also take law classes.
In addition to taking classes, scientists have to learn how to work with other people. They also need to practice speaking and writing so that they will be able to explain their research.
Workers also need computer skills. And they need to know about the latest tools and technology for studying the earth.
Students can start getting ready by taking science, math, and computer classes. They can also read books about rocks, the earth, and the environment.
See also: Notable Scientists: Earth Sciences.