What skills are helpful in becoming an environmental scientist?
I am going to be studying environmental science at college in the fall. What are the most helpful and necessary skills for someone working towards a career in this field of study? environment environmentalscience
Here’s some tips I’ve gleaned from past teachers:
1. You need to be patient. You need to have the patience to wait months and sometimes years for the right data to power your experiments.
2. You need good quantitative skills. Environmental science work requires a lot of data analysis.
3. You need personal integrity and passion. If you’re not implementing environmentally friendly practices in your personal life, it will be hard to take you seriously in the field. Practice what you preach.
4. You need grit and thick skin. The anti-climate change crowd is well funded and has a strong voice. Your work will be directly opposed to their agenda. You need the wherewithal to overcome their skepticism.
Environmental Science is a great field to go into! As you take your science courses throughout college, many of the mandatory courses for your major may seem irrelevant or unnecessary. For example, having to take Physics, Biochem, and Chemistry even though the major may SEEM biology based. HOWEVER, keeping an open mind can help you to understand how these sciences are all connected!
I majored in Biochem undergrad with an emphasis in environmental science. I never really understood why I had to take physics and organic chemistry but as I advanced in my studies, I started to realize that you cannot fully understand any one branch of science without appreciating the interconnections between the other branches.
Quick example: Environmental Science--pesticides and other chemicals from farms can negatively impact human health. To understand why, you need the human biology and chemistry to understand how it is poisonous, as well as the environmental biology to understand how and why these pesticides function in nature.
Hope this helps you see things from multiple view points!
- Written and oral communication skills.
- Problem solving.
- An investigative mind.
- Observation skills and critical thinking.
- Innovative thinking.
- Good with statistics.
- Commercial awareness.
These may seem to be a bit basic but when you get into detail about it then you will see how helpful they are for you during your studies and practice in the field.
As someone who formerly studied diatoms (a type of microscopic algae) and obtained my MS in Biology, you need research skills. Consider down the road, asking if you can volunteer in a scientific lab, volunteer for a citizen science project, and/or shadow a researcher. Gaining environmental research skills outdoors in the field, laboratory skills (e.g. microscopy), and scientific publication (e.g. data analysis and writing) will help you be marketable for environmental, government agencies and/or environmental science positions in academia.
Best of luck,