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Environmental Health Scientist Job Duties
An environmental health scientist utilizes their knowledge of public health and the environment to protect the public and the environment from harm. These highly skilled professionals identify problems and determine solutions to reduce any hazards to both the public health and the environment.
Environmental health scientists analyze problems with public health and the environment, and how and why those two issues intersect. These professionals work to take back land that has been damaged by pollutants. They also determine what the risks are of new construction projects to environmental health, and then make recommendations to officials on how to best minimize environmental harm.
Also, most governments now have strong regulations to ensure that the air, water and soil are safe. These regulations place limits on development to ensure that they are done safely. Many environmental health scientists do work for governments to make sure that regulations are closely followed. Also, some environmental health scientists work in consulting and help development companies comply with regulations from the government.
Some of these scientists may focus more on how environmental regulations can be designed to protect human health. Others will stress regulations that will minimize the impact on the local ecosystem.
With a master’s degree in public health, some of your duties as an environmental health scientist include:
- Decide on appropriate collections of data for various research projects and investigations pertaining to the environment and public health
- Perform appropriate analyses of samples, surveys and assorted other information to properly identify threats to the public health and the environment
- Come up with effective plans to deal with serious environmental or public health problems. These may pertain to polluted water or land.
- Report essential information about the environment and public health to various government officials, public and other stakeholders
- Write reports to present pertinent findings about the environment and public health
Environmental Health Scientist Career & Salary Outlook
It is believed that the job prospects for environmental health scientists will increase by 20% from 2010-20. This is about average when compared with other professions. Job growth is being caused because of greater interest in environmental hazards, and also the greater demands that population growth is placing on the environment. There also will be more demand that is coming because of more demanding laws and regulations pertaining to the environment.
A great deal of new jobs is expected to be seen in consulting firms, as private companies need to have help with managing their adherence to environmental health regulations. For example, an environmental health scientist with a master’s of public health might help business develop better practices so that they do not pollute the environment and damage public health. You also may help developers design buildings so that natural resources and environmental health is protected.
The median salary for professionals in this field was $61,700 in 2011. The top 10% earned over $107,000. With a master’s degree in public health, you will likely earn closer to the top of the salary range than the median. See more from the Best Public Health Careers list.
Job Outlook for Environmental Health Scientists
There were 89,400 environmental health scientists employed in 2010, and there should be 106,100 employed in 2020.
The biggest employers for environmental health scientists in 2010 were:
- State government: 23%
- Management, scientific and tech consulting firms: 19%
- Architectural and engineering firms: 13%
- Local government: 13%
- Federal government: 7%
Environmental Health Scientist Education and Training
You will need to have your bachelor’s degree in a natural science, such as chemistry or biology, or possibly environmental science. You will also need to have a master’s degree, such as in public health, to get the highest salary and the best advancement potential. You will likely start out as a research assistant, field analyst or a technician working in a laboratory. As you get more experience, you may be able to supervise the work of others in your workplace. Some environmental health scientists will go on to become faculty at a university, although this often takes a doctorate. Review list of Best Online MPH programs.