In Summary - Environmental Chemist
Environmental Chemists typically work in the following Career Sectors:
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The Work - Environmental Chemist
Environmental Chemistry focuses on the chemical aspects of the environment, such as reaction mechanisms of CFCs in the ozone layer, or the effects of pollutants in the atmosphere and waterways.
Environmental Science, on the other hand, encompasses other areas, such as the biology of maintaining balance in ecosystems or effects on populations of the introduction of alien species, etc. It is much broader, working with environmental issues in the wider context- including environmental law, business or science.
Environmental Chemistry is a good choice for those who intend to work on issues such climate change and controlling human impact i.e. understanding how chemicals move through the environment and their effects on human health and the environment itself. This is done through field and laboratory work, including measurements, data interpretation and computer modelling.
Environmental chemists collect samples of water, soil and air to test. They record what they find and construct reports to share with other team members, employers or clients. They also set up and maintain the equipment used to gather and measure data. They constantly reevaluate their efforts and come up with ways to improve data collection and research methods, as well as establishing effective ways of controlling pollutants.
Employers in this area of work include Regulatory Authorities, (e.g. Councils, Environmental Agencies), environmental consultancies involved in in remediation work (e.g. the clean-up of contamination), contractors and academic positions.
Most career opportunities are with consultancies. A typical career path would be moving up to a management/business development position, or something specifically technical, which is more likely in a larger organisation. Alternatively some people move between all of the main employer types taking on a different role in the contaminated land sector.
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- Provide scientific or technical guidance, support, coordination, or oversight to governmental agencies, environmental programs, industry, or the public.
- Review and implement environmental technical standards, guidelines, policies, and formal regulations that meet all appropriate requirements.
- Collect, synthesize, analyze, manage, and report environmental data, such as pollution emission measurements, atmospheric monitoring measurements, meteorological or mineralogical information, or soil or water samples.
- Communicate scientific or technical information to the public, organizations, or internal audiences through oral briefings, written documents, workshops, conferences, training sessions, or public hearings.
- Provide advice on proper standards and regulations or the development of policies, strategies, or codes of practice for environmental management.
- Prepare charts or graphs from data samples, providing summary information on the environmental relevance of the data.
- Conduct environmental audits or inspections or investigations of violations.
- Monitor effects of pollution or land degradation and recommend means of prevention or control.
- Design or direct studies to obtain technical environmental information about planned projects.
- Analyze data to determine validity, quality, and scientific significance and to interpret correlations between human activities and environmental effects.
Most commonly reported Work Activities
- Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Communicating with Persons Outside Organization Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
Interests - Environmental Chemist
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.
Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.
Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their most productive under supervisors who give clear guidelines and while performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.
They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.
Entry Requirements - Environmental Chemist
A Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry (B.Sc.), or a field relevant to the earth sciences is typical for most entry-level environmental jobs.
A B.Sc. in environmental science is typically multidisciplinary, incorporating biology, chemistry, physics and philosophy, with ecology, hydrology and atmospheric science.
Last Updated: November, 2014
Pay & Salary - Environmental Chemist
Labour Market Updates - Environmental Chemist
While the supply of graduates appears to be sufficient to meet the annual recruitment requirement (5,500 graduates in 2017), the demand is arising for roles for those with a high level of experience and/or in niche areas. The demand is for a small number of people given the relatively small size of this occupation (approx. 1% of total employment) and in the areas associated with pharmaceuticals, biopharma and food development.
National Skills Bulletin 2018