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What does is the day in the life of an environmental scientist look like?

I am a high school student who is interested in majoring in environmental science and minoring in oceanography. environmental-science science environmental

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Lincoln’s Answer

Hello Dalton,
Being up here in land-locked Alberta, Canada, I won't be able to speak much to the Oceanography minor, but I work with lots of environmental scientists. I work for an environmental consulting company, supporting clients across all sectors (oil and gas, commercial, municipal, and mining primarily). My days as a hydrogeologist/environmental geologist are generally communicating with clients to work on developing/executing scope on their Sites to assess environmental contamination in soil and groundwater, managing field teams who are out doing all the hard work for me, crunching the data from field programs completed, and preparing reports for client and regulatory review. I mostly sit behind a desk now, so the hours are generally pretty consistent, but I work in consulting, so if my client calls or I have a team in the field, the hours can extend a bit. Just starting out, expect your days to be filled with field work, data collection and analysis, with likely weekend work and travel, depending on the company/position you get. You need to "pay your dues", if you will, in order to understand how data is collected, the time it takes, limitations, etc. so you can use that experience as you progress in your career into more of an office support and/or manager. My field teams go out and collect groundwater and surface water samples, supervise drill rigs to collect soil samples and install monitoring wells, conduct test pits and remedial excavations, and monitor remedial groundwater treatment systems. So lots of variety and exposure to different environmental sampling and issues. My company also uses environmental scientists for supporting other environmental work like wildlife, vegetation, and hydrological assessments.

Lincoln recommends the following next steps:

Definitely pursue further education. Look at the different programs, and the current postings to see what companies are looking for. Some are fine with a technical degree (2-year) vs. a full 4-year program.
Look for seasonal employment. Many companies ramp up in the summer and need extra hands so are looking for students to support during the summer months.
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Rick’s Answer

Hey there Dalton...I am an environmental scientist and manager...I work for an electric utility in the gulf south of the U.S. Right now, my typical day consists of working across our entire organization on our clean energy transition and engaging our suppliers, customers and owners on sustainability and climate issues. I work on everything from environmental performance metrics collection, management and reporting; to talking to suppliers, customers and owners about their environmental/clean energy goals and how we can meet them; to other various sustainability issues including plastics, food waste, renewables, water usage and waste minimization.

Rick recommends the following next steps:

Definitely consider an environmental science or sustainability degree program at the college level.
Volunteer!!! You can gain valuable experience by volunteering for local organizations that focus on environmental and sustainability issues in your area.
Fully populate your LinkedIn profile with your interests and experience.