Environmental Scientist Protects His Community From Environmental Hazards was originally published on College Recruiter.
This interview will take you through the ups and downs you can expect as an environmental scientist, what it takes to land the job, what you can expect to earn and more.
I am an environmental scientist and I work a state-level agency responsible for managing the quality of our state’s soil, water, and air. I have worked in this field for fourteen years, and have five years of working in a university prior to this job.
If I had to describe what I do in a brief manner, I would say that I use qualitative and quantitative methods to analyze soil, water, and air samples to determine any contaminants or pollutants that may exist in them. This information is used to measure compliance with state and local codes in regards to environmental safety. This entails employing common chemical laboratory techniques to analyze these samples, interpreting the results, and compiling reports for superiors. Writing reports can take up a considerable amount of my time, but fortunately I can also do this while waiting for results to come through.
On a scale of one to ten, I would say my job is an eight. I thoroughly enjoy chemistry and protecting the environment. I feel like I contribute and help people by keeping the environment safe. The only thing keeping my job from being a ten is that sometimes we do not have the resources or support we need to fully investigate certain cases of abuse. I also feel that we do not investigate as closely as we should sometimes. This, however, is relatively rare.
I studied Chemistry and Environmental Science in college. During college I conducted research under the Environmental Science department, interned with a local biology laboratory, and really enjoyed the work. I stayed on at the university for five years afterwards, completing a Master’s degree and performing more research. Afterwards, I took a job with the state agency. I feel like my strong scientific background makes me effective at my job. I learned the importance of good lab technique, especially when your results can affect companies and individuals.
Every day I get up and I am proud to go to work. I feel like I make a difference in my community and protect my neighbors from environmental dangers. I also protect nature and animals just as equally. It is very purpose driven work, and I appreciate that my coworkers share that vision of environmental protection. Sometimes the work can be hard, especially when deadlines creep up or if you have a hard time getting action taken against a company that is abusing the environment. In those situations it is easy to become frustrated. Fortunately, these occurrences are mostly rare or they resolve themselves shortly.
When the job is not stressful, I thoroughly enjoy it. I am able to spend time with my family as well as perform meaningful work, and that is important for me. The hours are the fairly standard nine to five, and I rarely work over that. I sometimes like to go in early so I can leave earlier, or sometimes stay late to check on results. This is not required by the lab, but it is nice to have the flexibility to come in when it is best for me. In some labs, you may be able to work out a four day work week, but that depends on individual employers.
Someone in my position can expect a pretty wide salary range depending on where you work. At the state level, anywhere between $55,000 and $65,000 is reasonable. For the federal government or larger companies, salary can be closer to $85,000. Regardless, the benefits are pretty reasonable and the money is definitely good for what I do on a day to day basis. Environmental scientists willing to work for companies can also make more money in some cases than public sector counterparts.
We have eleven holidays per year in addition to three weeks of vacation time and five personal days. Considering that I like to travel, this is very important to me. I like to combine my vacation time, personal days, weekends, and holidays to get the most out of my vacations. I would like as much vacation time as possible, of course, but I am satisfied with this level.
Getting hired in this field requires some good science skills. Math and chemistry will be the two biggest subjects you study. It is important to develop the best lab technique you can. This is likely the single greatest advantage you can have. When conducting qualitative tests, everything must be done perfectly or results can be skewed. Focus and pay attention in your lab classes and learn how to handle yourself.
You should also practice your math skills as you will likely need Calculus I and II. It is possible that you will need higher math courses than even those. These are considered demanding math classes and you should be prepared for both the difficult material and the workload. Try to practice ahead of time.
Another useful action would be to intern at a lab or perform some undergraduate research if possible. This lab experience will help you stand out among other candidates. It will also help you learn the important lab techniques mentioned earlier.
If I could choose what I would be doing in five years, it would likely be pretty similar to what I am doing now. I would perhaps enjoy getting promoted to a more managerial role for the increased salary and responsibilities. However, I would still want to work in the field of environmental science and protection.
This is a true career story as told to JustJobs.com, where you can find thousands of job opportunities, as well as career related interviews, like a Hypnotherapist or a Director of After School Program.