Career Options for Jobs that Involve Science and Law
Science can be used as a basis for laws. As people have become more aware of environmental issues, for example, regulations have been introduced to ensure that governments and individuals take appropriate steps to protect environmentally sensitive areas, or to make sure that dangerous waste is disposed of properly. Many jobs involve working within these regulations. There are also science careers within the law enforcement field that are related to solving crimes. Below is more information about what some professionals who work with both science and law may do.
|Job Title||Median Salary* (2016)||Growth* (2014-2024)|
|Environmental Lawyers||$118,160 (all lawyers)||6% (all lawyers)|
|Urban and Regional Planners||$70,020||6%|
|Occupational Health and Safety Specialists||$70,920||4%|
|Hazardous Materials Removal Workers||$40,640||7%|
|Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant and System Operators||$45,760||6%|
|Public Relations Specialists||$58,020||6%|
|Forensic Science Technicians||$56,750||27%|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Career Information for Jobs that Involve Science and Law
Environmental lawyers are required to earn a law degree and pass their state's bar exam to be licensed. Environmental lawyers specifically focus on legal matters concerning the environment. They may represent a client accused of violating environmental regulations, or they may represent people who claim that they have become ill or suffered in some way due to a company that hasn't followed environmental regulations. Environmental lawyers are legal professionals who must have extensive knowledge of the law and of environmental regulations and the scientific basis for the regulations.
Urban and Regional Planners
Urban and regional planners must be aware of environmental regulations; they also have to know the local zoning laws and any laws relevant to development in the region they work for. They are responsible for determining how a community will be developed, so they must ensure that land is allocated to the community's needs; at the same time, they must make sure that laws are followed to prevent environmental damage. Their work is informed by knowledge of legal regulations, and many of these regulations relate to scientific matters, such as how development will impact the environment. A master's degree in urban or regional planning is required to work in this field.
Occupational Health and Safety Specialists
Occupational health and safety specialists are healthcare professionals with a bachelor's degree in occupational health and safety; they may also enter this field by majoring in biology or a similar scientific subject. They perform inspections to ensure that workplaces are safe for employees and compliant with government and environmental standards. This involves making sure that employers follow all regulations, so these specialists must be familiar with the law as well as penalties for failure to comply with the regulations. Their work also involves having samples tested to ensure that work environments are free from toxins; these types of scientific tests may be a key component of their work.
Hazardous Materials Removal Workers
Hazardous materials removal workers are responsible for safely removing and disposing of hazardous materials, such as asbestos. They must be familiar with the regulations concerning the unsafe materials they're dealing with and follow all applicable laws. Their work may also involve assessing the levels of toxins; since they may be involved in identifying the specific hazard, they may have to perform scientific tests to determine whether a hazard exists or what type of hazard they are dealing with. Hazardous materials removal workers may be able to enter the field with a high school diploma and on-the-job training, though some need to have a license.
Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant and System Operators
Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators help to ensure that people have safe drinking water, or that wastewater is treated appropriately so it does not contribute to environmental damage. These workers must have a license, and they also need to complete a high school diploma and on-the-job training; although postsecondary studies are not required, a certificate or associate's degree in a related field may help improve job prospects. Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators need to know how to test the water and must ensure that regulations are followed, so they must be aware of government and environmental laws related to their work.
Public Relations Specialists
A bachelor's degree in public relations or a similar major can prepare individuals for a career as a public relations specialist. They may be involved in writing speeches or statements for the press that are intended to affect how people view their client. They may work for the government or for organizations with specific legislative goals, which means their work may sometimes connect science and law. For example, a group advocating for tougher environmental protection laws may hire public relations specialists, who in turn may seek scientific evidence to support their client's legal agenda.
Forensic Science Technicians
Forensic science technicians use science to help enforce laws; they may go to crime scenes and retrieve evidence, or they may perform tests on evidence or analyze things recovered from crime scenes to form scientific conclusions. This information is passed on to law enforcement officials, who can use it to help determine who is responsible for committing a crime. Forensic science technicians must be familiar with the law so that they know the potential criminal acts they're investigating, and they must also follow legal procedures while performing scientific tests on evidence to make sure that their data will be admissible in court. A bachelor's degree in forensic science is sufficient to enter this career field.