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Environmental Scientist

Year 12 Preferred University Course Subject Prerequisites

Environmental scientists measure and record features of the environment and study, assess and develop methods of controlling or minimising the harmful effects of human activity on the environment.

Environmental scientists usually work with a range of other professional and technical staff. The amount of indoor and outdoor work they do depends on the individual job.


    Environmental scientists may perform the following tasks:

  • plan and conduct research into the physical and biological nature of the environment
  • undertake laboratory work
  • monitor the environmental impacts of development activities
  • conduct research and prepare proposals to minimise the impact of industrial, agricultural and urban processes on the environment
  • develop conservation plans
  • investigate and report on breaches of environmental guidelines
  • run community education programmes
  • assist with environmental emergencies, such as chemical spills and accidents
  • analyse pollutants, identify their sources and assess their effects on the environment
  • monitor the effects of pollution and land degradation, and recommend ways of prevention and control
  • rehabilitate land, water and air affected by mining, logging, construction, degradation or pollution
  • research matters of immediate and long-term importance to governments and communities, such as the impact of land clearing on native animals and the impact of waste products on waterways
  • negotiate with, and provide advice to, industry, government and the public on environmental matters, such as the management, re-use or disposal of hazardous materials
  • assist with the development of environmental policies, strategies and codes of practice
  • conduct environmental audits


  • a logical approach to problem-solving
  • aptitude for technical tasks
  • good communication skills
  • able to work as a part of a team

Interest Area

Scientific Technical/Engineering Figures/Computational Influencing/Personal Contact


Ecologist - studies the relationship between the environment and the organisms and actions that affect and are affected by it, including animal and plant life, weather patterns and human activity such as agriculture, urban development and pollution.

Environmental Officer - ensures that businesses and organisations pursue sound management practices that support plant and animal life.


Year 12 Preferred University Course Subject Prerequisites

To become an environmental scientist you usually have to complete a degree in environmental science, science or applied science with a major in environmental science, natural resource management, geography, marine science or a related field. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your HSC/ACT Year 12. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, and earth and environmental science are normally required. Most universities in Australia offer degrees in these areas.

Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact Open Universities Australia or the universities you are interested in for more information as requirements may change.


Environmental scientists may be employed by federal, state and territory government departments; statutory authorities; and local councils. They may also find employment with engineering and environmental consultants or in areas such as the minerals and energy industries or climate change research.

In recent years, national landcare initiatives have led to the creation of new positions for environmental scientists within state and territory agriculture departments.

There are also opportunities for self-employment as consultants, as well as in secondary and tertiary teaching.

Some employers have indicated a preference for environmental scientists who have at least four years of training.

Similar Jobs

More Information - External Links

Job Outlook for Environmental Scientist Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Office of Environment and Heritage (NSW)

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