Environmental Scientist Advancement Opportunities

Environmental scientists study environmental conditions through their knowledge of natural conditions. To advance their careers, they may consider roles in business, government, or further environmental study.

Career Growth Opportunities for Environmental Scientists

Environmental scientists play an important role in using biology, chemistry, and other sciences to protect the environment and people's health. After working as an environmental scientist, some professionals may wish to advance their careers. They may want to take their knowledge of environmental affairs into the business world as occupational health and safety specialists or regulatory affairs directors. Others may oversee more junior environmental scientists as senior environmental scientists, specialize as a hydrologists, or advocate for environmental policies as lobbyists. Some information on these fields is provided here.

Job Title Median Salary Job Growth (2016-2026)* Education or Experience
Lobbyist $70,633 (2018)** 3% (political scientists) Bachelor's degree
Occupational Heath and Safety Specialist $71,780 (2017)* 8% Bachelor's degree
Hydrologist $79,990 (2017)* 10% Bachelor's degree
Senior Environmental Scientist $78,658 (2018)** 11% (environmental scientists and specialists) Master's degree and experience
Regulatory Affairs Director $134,937 (2018)** 8% (top executives) Master's degree

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **

Career Information


Environmental scientists may feel strongly regarding federal laws and regulations designed to protect the environment. Some may wish to move into a role advocating for environmental regulation as a lobbyist. These individuals consult with legislators regarding the passage of particular pieces of legislation. Lobbyists may provide analysis of suggested legislation to help the lawmakers understand the impact of various courses of action. They may also interact with constituents, to encourage them to contact their representatives. Lobbyists typically have at least a bachelor's degree and connections within areas of government.

Occupational Health and Safety Specialist

Environmental scientists understand the correlation between environmental conditions and human health. They could expand this knowledge to a position as an occupational health and safety specialist. These professionals examine work environments to ensure that they comply with all regulations concerning health and safety. They may provide educational programs or demonstrations on how to ensure workplace safety. If accidents occur, they may conduct investigations as to the causality. Occupational health and safety specialists can enter the field with a bachelor's degree; however, in some industries a master's degree in industrial hygiene or a similar field is recommended.


Another way environmental scientists could advance their careers is by specializing in various areas of environmental concern. One option might be to work as a hydrologist, which is a scientist specializing in the study of water, and solve problems in terms of water availability and treatment. Hydrologists collect and analyze samples and other data concerning water conditions. They consider whether water-related infrastructure is appropriate and how other industries may affect the water supply. Hydrologists have a minimum of a bachelor's degree; however, many possess a master's degree as well.

Senior Environmental Scientist

Some environmental scientists may wish to move into managerial roles in the environmental science field, and these individuals may consider roles as senior environmental scientists. Senior environmental scientists determine the process by which an environmental study will be done, and then lead the team in conducting that study. They disseminate the results of environmental studies through presentations and reports. Senior environmental scientists oversee the work of junior staff members. Senior environmental scientists typically hold a master's degree or higher.

Regulatory Affairs Director

Environmental scientists are familiar with a range of environmental regulations. One way to advance in a career with this skill set is to become a regulatory affairs director. Regulatory affairs directors are responsible for ensuring that company policies and practices align with federal and state regulations. They must frequently consult with governmental analysts regarding such compliance. Regulatory affairs directors must be aware of, and responsive to, a shifting regulatory environment. While some regulatory affairs directors have bachelor's degrees, a master's degree is typically required to enter into the field.

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