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Environmental research scientist

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Summary of occupation

Environmental research scientists study and record environmental phenomena, as well as plan ways to reduce the damage that human activity has on the environment. They may study the sources and effects of pollution, or other forms of environmental decay and damage, and work out ways to remedy or prevent this. They identify and analyse the source of pollution, develop ways to combat it, and develop conservation and rehabilitation plans to combat the effects of work undertaken through mining, forestry, construction and agriculture. Environmental scientists may work for government departments or for private companies working in the mining, construction or land development industry.

ANZSCO description: Studies and develops policies and plans for the control of factors which may produce pollution, imbalance in or degradation of the environment.
Alternative names: Environmental Scientist
Specialisations: Air Pollution Analyst, Ecologist, Environmental Conservation Officer, Land Degradation Analyst, Water Quality Analyst
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

An environmental scientist needs:

  • an interest in biology and the environment
  • good problem-solving skills
  • to be logical, and have good analytical and research skills
  • practical skills for field work and operating scientific equipment
  • excellent communication skills
  • the ability to undertake accurate and detailed work.
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Working conditions

Environmental scientists work in offices and laboratories, and undertake field work in a range of outdoor locations. They may need to travel throughout the State or across the country to conduct field research. Specific weather conditions are often required in order to undertake research. They usually work regular business hours, but may be required to work longer hours at times.

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Salary details

On average, environmental scientists can expect to earn between $1 500 and $1 999 per week ($78 000 and $103 000 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As an environmental scientist develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.​

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Tools and technologies

Environmental scientists use computers and specialty design and modelling software, as well as sampling and testing equipment, laboratory equipment, and surveying and measuring equipment. They refer to maps and other environmental diagrams. When conducting field research, they are often required to wear safety gear such as hard hats, work boots and high-visibility clothing.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become an environmental scientist you usually have to complete a degree in science, majoring in environmental science, or a related field. ​​

​All universities in Western Australia offer relevant degrees. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information. 

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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