Forester Career Path
How To Become an Environmental SpecialistAn environmental specialist collects and compiles environmental data for scientific analysis. If you're passionate about the environment and are detail-oriented, a job as an environmental specialist might be the right fit for you. In this article, we will cover the steps required to become an environmental specialist.
Earn an undergraduate degree.
When employers seek an environmental specialist, they typically seek candidates who have at least a bachelor's degree in physical or biological science. Some common undergraduate degree choices include natural science, geosciences, and engineering. You could also complete a bachelor's degree program in environmental health, which would cover environmental law, occupational safety, ergonomics, and environmental law compliance.
Find an internship.
Work experience helps you develop the skills needed to excel as an environmental specialist. During your studies, you should gain some hands-on experience through field and laboratory work. Some programs might also offer internship opportunities where you can apply your knowledge to real-life situations. You could also apply for internships through organizations such as the American Public Health Association or the National Environmental Health Association. During your internship, you should hone your technical and interpersonal skills since most employers want to hire candidates who have strong communication and collaborative skills.
Complete a master's degree program.
Although you can land an environmental specialist job with just an undergraduate degree, you might want to consider obtaining a master's degree in environmental health or public health. A master's degree program will build on the knowledge you've gained from the bachelor's degree program and focus on a particular area within environmental science. Graduate courses usually depend upon your area of concentration, but you'll typically complete coursework in topics covering waste management, environmental risk management, forestry, epidemiology, and climate change. Most programs state that you must complete research and write a thesis.
Get OSHA certified.
Certain jobs require training regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In certain instances, this training comes with certification. Also, certification can prove your knowledge and skill level, making you stand out during the application process. To distinguish yourself, seek state licensing to handle different types of hazardous materials. Many environmental specialists also opt to pursue the registered environmental health specialist credential, which is administered by the National Environmental Health Association. You must pass a certification exam that demonstrates your competency knowledge about a variety of environmental issues.
Land an entry-level job.
After pursuing at least an undergraduate degree, you can apply to a variety of environmental health jobs with government entities, private companies, labs, and consulting firms. Most often these jobs will have you work in an office and a laboratory. Any previous work experience you gained from internships can be beneficial since you can add that experience to your resume. Many environmental specialists start as lab technicians or research assistants and work their way up to lab or project manager positions once they gain enough experience.
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