7 Things They Don’t Tell You Before an Environmental Science Career

Environmental Science Career

Last Updated: Sep 23, 2018

7 Things They Don’t Tell You Before an Environmental Science Career

Trying to find an environmental science career?

Becoming an environmental scientist isn’t something you can just do at the drop of a hat.

In fact, there’s really a couple of things you MUST know before you sign the dotted line.

Let’s pull back the curtain and reveal some of the hidden secrets (good and bad) of environmental science careers. Ready?

1 Environmental consultancy isn’t for the faint of heart

Environmental consultancy is not for everyone. But the rewards can be bountiful.

As an environmental consultant, you will ensure clients comply with regulations.

This includes, but is not limited to compliance with air regulations, managing wastewater and disposal of solid wastes.

It’s also about making sure clients aren’t harming wetlands or hurting endangered animals, birds, insects or fauna.

Overall, environmental consultancy provides advice relating to managing environmental risks to human health and the environment.

As such, environmental consultants come from a variety of backgrounds: hydrogeology, ecology, environmental health, civil engineering etc.

2 You bill your time to projects with limited budgets

In consultancy, the first thing you have to understand is that your time is billable.

As a consultant, your job is to get your client out of trouble, and save them money.

For example:

When they have a contaminated site, they hire you to assess, clean them up and report on it. Budget is allocated for each task that you have to work within.

If you aren’t able to bill your time in 15 minute increments, you don’t have a job.

However, if you take a full-time position with a company doing lots of field work you usually have lots of billable hours since you’re always in the field.

Nothing to bill to? Well, you can bank the hours and take leave without pay when work gets slow.

3 Work for the government if you don’t want to fill out time cards

If you don’t like billing out your time, work for the government.

Often the case, government employees are more satisfied with their jobs.

Instead of doing the environmental inspections yourself, you get to point out their deficiencies.

As such, this will put environmental companies on the correct path to compliance.

Because there’s often standards to follow, you can accomplishing your goal.

4 It’s a nice balance of field and office work

Entry-level consultants do most of the field work. Your field work ratio depends on season, location and background.

Working in the field gives a chance to bring physicality and fitness to your work. And when you spend time outside, you can bank vacation time or receive overtime pay.

As you start climbing the ladder, you often do more office work. At a certain point, you become too much of a risk to get hurt, unless you are coordinating the field effort.

So as you do more desk work you either are landing projects for the company or you develop a skill set that keeps you in the office more.

After all, field work can be really expensive and can be physically demanding. Therefore, the older you are, the higher your hourly rate is and the less physical ability you will have on-site.

5 “Making a difference” isn’t in your job description

After graduation, you’ll probably want to land a job where you can make a positive difference to the environment.

The startling truth is that “making a difference” is not the job description of an environment consultant.

Your very existence impacts the environment by documenting local conditions prior to human impacts, evaluating human impacts, or cleaning up human impacts.

You are a scientist or engineer collecting data, developing a solution and writing reports.

You enforce environmental regulations. There’s rare opportunities for you to change the world.

6 Environmental scientist salary – consulting vs government?

Environmental science is a broad field with a range of possibilities and career paths.

Environmental consultancy is the industry that provides advice relating to managing environmental risks to human health and the environment.

As such, environmental consultants come from a variety of backgrounds: hydrogeology, environmental science, environmental health, civil engineering etc.

There aren’t always well-defined boundaries between environmental consultants, biologists or geologists who are working in this area.

Your clients are everyone – gasoline service stands, mining startups, construction, manufacturing, energy and gas.

7 What successful environmental consultants eat for breakfast.

Here are more pro tips for environmental consultants.

  • Learn ArcGIS or CAD and a programming language (Python, R and VBA are useful).
  • Learn about databases and how to work within them.
  • Understand corporate dynamics before you make serious, life-changing decisions.
  • Statistics is often a good complementary skill for reporting and establishing sample size.
  • Get a masters.

Do you have any tips to obtain an environmental science career? Let us know with a comment below.

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