Environmental scientist


Environmental scientists identify problems and find solutions in order to minimize environmental hazards by performing analysis on samples such as air, water or soil. They advise on or develop environmental policies and aim to improve water supplies preservation and manage waste disposal sites. Environmental scientists perform environmental risk assessments and analyse the environmental impact of new solutions, construction sites or environmental changes ensuring the environmental regulations are followed.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to environmental scientist:

green infrastructure analyst
environmental researcher
land survey technician
geological technician
environmental impact expert
regulatory compliance environmental professional
environmental surveyor
environmental scientist advisor
environmental chemist
geological technologist
environmental field scientist
environmental engineer
soil scientist
ecosystem restoration project manager
mineral technician
mineral technologist
field scientist

Minimum qualifications

Master’s degree is generally required to work as environmental scientist. However, this requirement may differ in some countries.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Environmental scientist is a Skill level 4 occupation.

Environmental scientist career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to environmental scientist.

environmental expert
environmental engineer
environmental programme coordinator
environmental policy officer
environmental geologist

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of environmental scientist. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of environmental scientist with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of environmental scientist.

Environmental policy: Local, national and international policies dealing with the promotion of environmental sustainability and the development of projects which reduce negative environmental impact and improve the state of the environment.
Pollution legislation: Be familiar with European and National legislation regarding the risk of pollution.
Physics: The natural science involving the study of matter, motion, energy, force and related notions.
Environmental legislation: The environmental policies and legislation applicable in a certain domain.
Pollution prevention: The processes used to prevent pollution: precautions to pollution of the environment, procedures to counter pollution and associated equipment, and possible measures to protect the environment.
Environmental threats: The threats for the environment which are related to biological, chemical, nuclear, radiological, and physical hazards.
Environmental management monitors: The hardware and equipment suitable for measurement and live monitoring of environmental parameters.
Scientific research methodology: The theoretical methodology used in scientific research involving doing background research, constructing an hypothesis, testing it, analysing data and concluding the results.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of environmental scientist.

Ensure compliance with environmental legislation: Monitor activities and perform tasks ensuring compliance with standards involving environmental protection and sustainability, and amend activities in the case of changes in environmental legislation. Ensure that the processes are compliant with environment regulations and best practices.
Investigate pollution: Identify the cause of pollution incidents, as well as its nature and the extent of the risks, by performing tests on the site of pollution as well as in a laboratory and performing research.
Perform environmental investigations: Perform environmental investigations as required, checking regulatory proceedings, possible legal actions or other types of complaint.
Use consulting techniques: Advise clients in different personal or professional matters.
Collect samples for analysis: Collect samples of materials or products for laboratory analysis.
Advise on pollution prevention: Advise individuals and organisations on the development and implementation of actions which aid in the prevention of pollution and its related risks.
Use technical drawing software: Create technical designs and technical drawings using specialised software.
Carry out environmental audits: Use equipment to measure various environmental parameters in order to identify environmental problems and investigate manners in which they can be resolved. Perform inspections in order to ensure compliance with environmental legislation.
Analyse environmental data: Analyse data that interpret correlations between human activities and environmental effects.
Conduct environmental surveys: Conduct surveys in order to collect information for analysis and management of environmental risks within an organisation or in a wider context.
Advise on environmental risk management systems: Evaluate requirements and advise on systems for environmental risk management. Ensure the customer does his part in preventing or limiting adverse environmental impact through the use of technology. Ensure required licenses and permits are obtained.
Manage environmental management system: Develop and implement an environmental management system.
Prepare visual data: Prepare charts and graphs in order to present data in a visual manner.
Conduct research before survey: Acquire information about property and its boundaries before the survey by searching legal records, survey records, and land” titles.
Develop environmental remediation strategies: Develop strategies for the removal of pollution and contaminants from soil, groundwater, surface water, or sediment, taking into account environmental remediation regulations and available technologies.
Assess groundwater environmental impact: Estimate environmental impact of groundwater abstraction and management activities.
Conduct environmental site assessments: Manage and oversee environmental site prospection and assessments for mining or industrial sites. Designate and demarcate areas for geochemical analysis and scientific research.
Implement environmental protection measures: Enforce environmental criteria to prevent environmental damage. Strive for the efficient use of resources in order to prevent waste and reduce costs. Motivate colleagues to take relevant steps to operate in an environmentally friendly manner.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of environmental scientist. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

Engineering principles: The engineering elements like functionality, replicability, and costs in relation to the design and how they are applied in the completion of engineering projects.
Consumer protection: The current legislation applicable in relation to the rights of consumers in the marketplace.
Civil engineering: The engineering discipline that studies the design, construction and maintenance of naturally built works such as roads, buildings, and canals.
Biology: Tissues, cells, and functions of plant and animal organisms and their interdependencies and interactions with each other and the environment.
Environmental engineering: The application of scientific and engineering theories and principles aimed at improving the environment and sustainability, such as the provision of clean habitation necessities (such as air, water, and land) for humans and other organisms, for environmental remediation in the event of pollution, sustainable energy development, and improved waste management and waste reduction methods.
Chemistry: The composition, structure, and properties of substances and the processes and transformations that they undergo; the uses of different chemicals and their interactions, production techniques, risk factors, and disposal methods.
Mining, construction and civil engineering machinery products: The offered mining, construction and civil engineering machinery products, their functionalities, properties and legal and regulatory requirements.
Hazardous waste storage: The regulations and procedures surrounding the safekeeping of materials and substances which pose health and safety risks.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of environmental scientist. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

Assess environmental plans against financial costs: Assess environmental plans in financial terms in order to balance the expenditure required for environmental improvements. Assess the economic benefit that those investments will bring in the long-term to the company.
Address public health issues: Promote healthy practices and behaviours to ensure that populations stay healthy.
Possess visual literacy: Interpret charts, maps, graphics, and other pictorial presentations used in place of the written word. The graphics used vary from process to process; therefore, the professional must have sufficient knowledge of the field in order to follow and use the information presented.
Handle chemicals: Safely handle industrial chemicals; use them efficiently and ensure that no harm is done to the environment.
Carry out training in environmental matters: Perform staff training and ensure all members of the workforce understand how they can contribute to improved environmental performance.
Monitor environmental parameters: Check the impact of manufacturing machinery on the environment, analysing temperature levels, water quality and air pollution.
Work with chemicals: Handle chemicals and select specific ones for certain processes. Be aware of the reactions which arise from combining them.
Inspect industrial equipment: Inspect equipment used during industrial activities such as manufacturing or construction equipment in order to ensure that the equipment complies with health, safety, and environmental legislation.
Manage chemical testing procedures: Manage the procedures to be used in chemical testing by designing them and conducting tests accordingly.
Have computer literacy: Utilise computers, IT equipment and modern day technology in an efficient way.

ISCO group and title

2133 – Environmental protection professionals





  1. Environmental scientist – ESCO
Last updated on August 8, 2022