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Industrial Ecologists
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Description: what do they do?
Apply principles and processes of natural ecosystems to develop models for efficient industrial systems. Use knowledge from the physical and social sciences to maximize effective use of natural resources in the production and use of goods and services. Examine societal issues and their relationship with both technical systems and the environment.
Also known as:
Environmental Consultant, Environmental Programs Manager, Environmental Protection Agency Counselor, Environmental Services Director, Research Scientist, Ecologist, Researcher

    What does this information tell me?

    This description is a quick overview of what workers in this career might do.

    "Also known as" shows other common names for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from an O*NET database. Learn more on the Help page.

Career video
    Transcript: Environmental scientists and specialists use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment and human health. They develop strategies to clean up polluted areas, advise policymakers, and work with industry to reduce waste or hazards. Environmental scientists gather and analyze data to shed light on important questions, including how to prevent or handle environmental problems… then use their findings to inform the public, private industry, government officials, and others about environmental hazards. Day-to-day tasks can vary a lot among these specialists: Climate change analysts study the effects of changing climatic conditions on ecosystems. Environmental health specialists study how environmental factors affect community and individual human health. Environmental restoration planners determine how to clean up polluted sites and assess costs. And industrial ecologists work with industry to develop sustainable and efficient practices that limit adverse impacts on the environment. While environmental scientists generally work full time in an office or laboratory, some head to the field to check out environmental conditions and gather samples of air, soil, water, or food. Most entry-level positions require a bachelor’s degree in a natural science or related field, but a master’s degree is often needed for advancement. Whether teaching or practicing methods to keep our air, water, and land clean and free of health risks, the work of environmental scientists hits home.
View transcript
Outlook: will there be jobs?
Image. Employment outlook for this occupation
New job opportunities are very likely in the future.

This occupation is:
  • Expected to grow much faster than average


    What does this information tell me?

    Outlook information can tell you whether a career is expected to be in demand in the future—that is, whether there are likely to be job openings if you choose this career. Careers can have one of three outlooks:

    • A Bright outlook means new job opportunities are very likely in the future
    • An Average outlook means that a small number of new job opportunities are likely in the future (less than an 8 percent increase)
    • A Below Average outlook means new job opportunities are less likely in the future

    You can also view local job listings in this field by clicking "Find job openings" above. This can help you see if local businesses are hiring—another way of looking at demand.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET Bright Outlook occupations, 2019. Note this information is only available at a national level, so even if you selected a state, you’ll only see this information for the whole country.

Projected employment
United States
85,000
2018 Employment
92,000
2028 Employment
8%
Percent change
10,300
Annual projected job openings
You’re seeing projected employment information for Environmental scientists and specialists, including health because we don’t have information for Industrial Ecologists.

    What does this information tell me?

    Projected employment shows how much employment is expected to grow in this occupation over a 10-year period. This can help you decide if this career is a good choice for future job opportunities. You can look at projected employment in your state, or in other states where you might consider living.

    You can see the total number of people employed in this occupation in 2016 (for states) or 2018 (for the United States), the number expected to be employed in 2026 (for states) or 2028 (for the United States), and rate of growth over those years.

    The projections are based on assumptions of unemployment rates and labor productivity growth rates.  While the projected numbers may not be exact, they are helpful to compare one career to another, or one location to another.

    What is the source of this information?

    State-level data come from Projections Central and each state's Labor Market Information office, 2016-26.

    National-level data come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, 2018-28.

Typical wages

Annual wages for Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Health* in United States
This graph displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
* You’re seeing wages for Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Health because we don’t have information for Industrial Ecologists.
This chart displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
LocationUnited States
10%$42,810
25%$54,100
Median$71,360
75%$95,140
90%$124,760


    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you a range of how much most workers in this occupation earn per hour, in the location that you selected.

    You can select from three views of this data:

    • The Graph shows you wages at the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th percentiles. Note that the lowest (10th %ile) wage shown is not necessarily a "starting wage." Instead it means that 10 percent of all workers in this career earn less that this amount, and 90 percent earn more. However, you can assume that you might earn close to the 10th or 25th %ile wages when you start out in most careers.
    • Select "Chart" to see a visual comparison between national wages and wages in the location you selected.
    • Select "Table" to see more wage data the national and local level.

    Please note that wage data are not available at the city or ZIP code level. If you selected a city or ZIP code, you will see wage data for the regional area.

    You can learn more about wages for this and other occupations by clicking “See more wages” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    The wage information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics Program, May 2019 survey. For more detailed state wage data, please find the link to your state's wage data program in the Other Resources box.

Education and experience: to get started
People starting in this career usually have:
  • Bachelor's degree
  • No work experience
  • No on-the-job training

Programs that can prepare you:
You’re seeing education information for Environmental scientists and specialists, including health because we don’t have information for Industrial Ecologists. Please note the information may not be the same for both occupations.

    What does this information tell me?

    This shows you the typical level of education, work experience, and on-the-job training that most people have when they start in this career. Note that these are not requirements for entering this field, but the information can help you understand how qualified you might be.

    Interested in starting in this career? You can search for education programs in your local area by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, Education and training assignments by detailed occupation, 2018.

Typical education
How much education do most people in this career have?
Chart. Percent of workers in this field by education level attained
You’re seeing education information for Environmental scientists and specialists, including health because we don’t have information for Industrial Ecologists. Please note the information may not be the same for both occupations.

    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you the range of education levels that people who currently work in this field have. You can use this to see if you fit in this range. Note that this includes ALL people who work in this field and not just those getting started.

    Interested in getting qualified for this career? You can search for programs that lead to the education needed, in your local area, by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, Educational attainment for workers 25 years and older by detailed occupation, 2016–17.

Certifications: show your skills
Let employers know you have the skills to do well at this job.
Earning a certification can help you:
  • Get a job
  • Get a promotion

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find certifications" you'll see a list of national certifications that are related to this career. From there, you can learn how to achieve one of these certifications to help you enter or get ahead in this field.

    What is the source of this information?

    This collection of occupational certifications is collected and regularly updated by CareerOneStop. Learn more at Certification Finder Help.

Licenses: do you need one?
Some states require an occupational license to work in this career.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find license details in your state" you'll see the license name and contact information for the agency in your state that oversees licensing for this field. If you have not selected a location, you'll see a list of all state licenses for this occupation.

    What is the source of this information?

    Information on licensed occupations is gathered in each state by Labor Market Information units under a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Learn more at License Finder Help.

Apprenticeships: learn on the job
Apprenticeships combine paid on-the-job-training with classroom lessons.

Activities: what you might do in a day
  • Research environmental impact of industrial or development activities.
  • Identify sustainable business practices.
  • Develop sustainable industrial or development methods.
  • Communicate results of environmental research.
  • Prepare research or technical reports on environmental issues.
  • Review professional literature to maintain professional knowledge.
  • Advise others about environmental management or conservation.
  • Develop technical or scientific databases.
  • Research impacts of environmental conservation initiatives.
  • Apply knowledge or research findings to address environmental problems.
  • Develop plans to manage natural or renewable resources.
  • Conduct research on social issues.
  • Plan environmental research.
  • Appraise environmental impact of regulations or policies.
  • Prepare information or documentation related to legal or regulatory matters.
  • Develop mathematical models of environmental conditions.
  • Promote environmental sustainability or conservation initiatives.
  • Monitor environmental impacts of production or development activities.
  • Develop environmental sustainability plans or projects.
  • Analyze environmental data.
  • Plan natural resources conservation or restoration programs.
  • Conduct research of processes in natural or industrial ecosystems.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical work activities that people in this career might do on the job. You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More activities” to see more detailed examples of activities for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these activities to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET’s Detailed Work Activities.

Knowledge
People in this career often know a lot about:
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Engineering and Technology - Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of general knowledge areas that are most commonly required for jobs in the career. Knowledge is typically gained through education and related experience.

    This list can help you learn if you are prepared for a job in this career. It can also help you decide on education or training programs that could help you prepare for the career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Knowledge descriptors.

Skills
People in this career often have these skills:
  • Reading Comprehension - Reading work-related information.
  • Critical Thinking - Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
  • Writing - Writing things for co-workers or customers.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one.
  • Speaking - Talking to others.
  • Active Listening - Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.
  • Active Learning - Figuring out how to use new ideas or things.
  • Systems Analysis - Figuring out how a system should work and how changes in the future will affect it.
  • Science - Using scientific rules and strategies to solve problems.
  • Systems Evaluation - Measuring how well a system is working and how to improve it.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list the work-related skills most commonly required for jobs in the career.

    This list can help you understand how well your current skills fit this career. It can also help you plan your education or professional development.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Skills descriptors.

Abilities
People in this career often have talent in:
  • Deductive Reasoning - Using rules to solve problems.
  • Written Expression - Communicating by writing.
  • Inductive Reasoning - Making general rules or coming up with answers from lots of detailed information.
  • Problem Sensitivity - Noticing when problems happen.
  • Oral Comprehension - Listening and understanding what people say.
  • Oral Expression - Communicating by speaking.
  • Written Comprehension - Reading and understanding what is written.
  • Speech Clarity - Speaking clearly.
  • Near Vision - Seeing details up close.
  • Speech Recognition - Recognizing spoken words.
  • Information Ordering - Ordering or arranging things.
  • Mathematical Reasoning - Choosing the right type of math to solve a problem.
  • Category Flexibility - Grouping things in different ways.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list of personal qualities that might influence work and are most commonly required for success in this career.

    This list can help you understand if your natural strengths and abilities are a good fit for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Abilities descriptors.

Interests
  • Enterprising - Occupations with Enterprising interests frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. Many involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
  • Investigative - Occupations with Investigative interests frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. They often involve research and figuring out problems mentally.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of work environment-preferences that are most commonly associated with the career. It can help you understand if your natural interests are a good fit for this career.

    Click "Take an interest assessment" for a quick 30-question assessment that can help you understand your interests and see careers that might be good matches for them.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Interest descriptors.

Typical tasks
  • Identify environmental impacts caused by products, systems, or projects.
  • Identify or develop strategies or methods to minimize the environmental impact of industrial production processes.
  • Prepare technical and research reports, such as environmental impact reports, and communicate the results to individuals in industry, government, or the general public.
  • Analyze changes designed to improve the environmental performance of complex systems and avoid unintended negative consequences.
  • Review research literature to maintain knowledge on topics related to industrial ecology, such as physical science, technology, economy, and public policy.
  • Recommend methods to protect the environment or minimize environmental damage from industrial production practices.
  • Identify or compare the component parts or relationships between the parts of industrial, social, and natural systems.
  • Build and maintain databases of information about energy alternatives, pollutants, natural environments, industrial processes, and other information related to ecological change.
  • Redesign linear, or open-loop, systems into cyclical, or closed-loop, systems so that waste products become inputs for new processes, modeling natural ecosystems.
  • Conduct environmental sustainability assessments, using material flow analysis (MFA) or substance flow analysis (SFA) techniques.
  • Identify sustainable alternatives to industrial or waste-management practices.
  • Translate the theories of industrial ecology into eco-industrial practices.
  • Prepare plans to manage renewable resources.
  • Examine societal issues and their relationship with both technical systems and the environment.
  • Plan or conduct studies of the ecological implications of historic or projected changes in industrial processes or development.
  • Provide industrial managers with technical materials on environmental issues, regulatory guidelines, or compliance actions.
  • Carry out environmental assessments in accordance with applicable standards, regulations, or laws.
  • Plan or conduct field research on topics such as industrial production, industrial ecology, population ecology, and environmental production or sustainability.
  • Forecast future status or condition of ecosystems, based on changing industrial practices or environmental conditions.
  • Research sources of pollution to determine environmental impact or to develop methods of pollution abatement or control.
  • Perform analyses to determine how human behavior can affect, and be affected by, changes in the environment.
  • Promote use of environmental management systems (EMS) to reduce waste or to improve environmentally sound use of natural resources.
  • Monitor the environmental impact of development activities, pollution, or land degradation.
  • Develop alternative energy investment scenarios to compare economic and environmental costs and benefits.
  • Investigate the impact of changed land management or land use practices on ecosystems.
  • Perform environmentally extended input-output (EE I-O) analyses.
  • Research environmental effects of land and water use to determine methods of improving environmental conditions or increasing outputs, such as crop yields.
  • Apply new or existing research about natural ecosystems to understand economic and industrial systems in the context of the environment.
  • Create complex and dynamic mathematical models of population, community, or ecological systems.
  • Investigate accidents affecting the environment to assess ecological impact.
  • Conduct applied research on the effects of industrial processes on the protection, restoration, inventory, monitoring, or reintroduction of species to the natural environment.
  • Conduct scientific protection, mitigation, or restoration projects to prevent resource damage, maintain the integrity of critical habitats, and minimize the impact of human activities.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of industrial ecology programs, using statistical analysis and applications.
  • Develop or test protocols to monitor ecosystem components and ecological processes.
  • Investigate the adaptability of various animal and plant species to changed environmental conditions.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical tasks that people in this career might do on the job.  You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More tasks” to see more detailed examples for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these tasks to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET‘s Tasks.

Other resources

    What does this information tell me?

    These are additional online resources related to this career. You may find different or more detailed information at these sources.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information is collected and maintained by CareerOneStop.