How to become an Environmental Scientist

Environmental scientists measure and record features of the environment and study, assess and develop methods of controlling or minimising the harmful effects of human activity on the environment.

Personal requirements of a Environmental Scientist

  • A logical approach to problem-solving
  • Aptitude for technical tasks
  • Good communication skills
  • Able to work as a part of a team

Education & Training for a Environmental Scientist

To become an environmental scientist you usually have to complete a degree in environmental science, science or applied science with a major in environmental science, natural resource management, geography, marine science or a related field. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, and earth and environmental science are normally required. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

Duties & Tasks of a Environmental Scientist

Environmental scientists:

  • plan and conduct research into the physical and biological nature of the environment
  • undertake laboratory work
  • monitor the environmental impacts of development activities
  • conduct research and prepare proposals to minimise the impact of industrial, agricultural and urban processes on the environment
  • develop conservation plans
  • investigate and report on breaches of environmental guidelines
  • run community education programs
  • assist with environmental emergencies, such as chemical spills and accidents
  • analyse pollutants, identify their sources and assess their effects on the environment
  • monitor the effects of pollution and land degradation, and recommend ways of prevention and control
  • rehabilitate land, water and air affected by mining, logging, construction, degradation or pollution
  • research matters of immediate and long-term importance to governments and communities, such as the impact of land clearing on native animals and the impact of waste products on waterways
  • negotiate with, and provide advice to, industry, government and the public on environmental matters, such as the management, re-use or disposal of hazardous materials
  • assist with the development of environmental policies, strategies and codes of practice
  • conduct environmental audits.

Working conditions for a Environmental Scientist

Environmental scientists usually work with a range of other professional and technical staff. The amount of indoor and outdoor work they do depends on the individual job.

Employment Opportunities for a Environmental Scientist

Environmental scientists may be employed by federal, state and territory government departments; statutory authorities; and local councils. They may also find employment with engineering and environmental consultants or in areas such as the minerals and energy industries or climate change research. In recent years, national landcare initiatives have led to the creation of new positions for environmental scientists within state and territory agriculture departments. There are also opportunities for self-employment as consultants, as well as in secondary and tertiary teaching. Some employers have indicated a preference for environmental scientists who have at least four years of training.



An ecologist studies the relationship between the environment and the organisms and actions that affect and are affected by it, including animal and plant life, weather patterns and human activity such as agriculture, urban development and pollution.

Environmental Officer

An environmental officer ensures that businesses and organisations pursue sound management practices that support plant and animal life.

Avg. weekly wage:


Future growth:


Employment by state:

ACT 2.1%

NSW 27.5%

NT 3.9%

QLD 22.9%

SA 6%

VIC 17.9%

WA 16.9%

TAS 2.7%

Hours worked:



Lower unemployment

Gender split:

Male 59%

Female 41%

Education level:

Highest qualification is secondary school: 4.6%

Highest qualification is a Certificate 3 or 4: 7.3%

Highest qualification is a Diploma or Advanced Diploma: 7.6%

Highest qualification is a Bachelor degree: 48.4%

Highest qualification is a Postgraduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 27.7%

Age brackets:

15-19 - 0.1%

20-24 - 6.1%

25-34 - 26.8%

35-44 - 22.6%

45-54 - 19.5%

55-59 - 8.2%

60-64 - 7.1%

65 and Over - 9.5%

*The data above is sourced from the Department of Employment’s Job Outlook website.

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