Industrial Ecologists
19-2041.03

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.

Sample of reported job titles: Ecologist, Environmental Consultant, Environmental Protection Agency Counselor, Research Scientist, Researcher

Occupation-Specific Information

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

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Technology Skills

Hot technology Hot Technologies are requirements frequently included in employer job postings.

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Occupational Requirements

Work Activities

  • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
  • Working with Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
  • Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
  • Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
  • Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
  • Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
  • 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.
  • Communicating with People Outside the 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.
  • Providing Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
  • Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
  • 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.
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
  • Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
  • Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
  • Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
  • Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.

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Detailed Work Activities

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Work Context

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Experience Requirements

Job Zone

Title
Job Zone Five: Extensive Preparation Needed
Education
Most of these occupations require graduate school. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).
Related Experience
Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.
Job Training
Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.
Job Zone Examples
These occupations often involve coordinating, training, supervising, or managing the activities of others to accomplish goals. Very advanced communication and organizational skills are required. Examples include pharmacists, lawyers, astronomers, biologists, clergy, physician assistants, and veterinarians.
SVP Range
Over 4 years of preparation (8.0 and above)

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Training & Credentials

State training
Local training
Certifications
Apprenticeships
Have a career path or location in mind? Visit Apprenticeship.gov external site to find apprenticeship opportunities near you.

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Worker Requirements

Skills

  • Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
  • Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
  • Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Systems Analysis — Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
  • Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
  • Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.
  • Systems Evaluation — Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
  • Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
  • Learning Strategies — Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
  • Management of Personnel Resources — Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
  • Persuasion — Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
  • Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.

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Knowledge

  • Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • 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.
  • Chemistry — Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
  • Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Physics — Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub-atomic structures and processes.
  • English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Production and Processing — Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
  • Design — Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
  • Biology — Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.

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Education

How much education does a new hire need to perform a job in this occupation? Respondents said:

  • 65%
     
    responded: Master’s degree requiredmore info
  • 22%
     
    responded: Bachelor’s degree required
  • 9%
     
    responded: Doctoral degree requiredmore info

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Worker Characteristics

Abilities

  • Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
  • Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
  • Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
  • Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
  • Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
  • Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
  • Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.

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Interests

Interest code: IE
Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
  • Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Enterprising — Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

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Work Values

  • Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
  • Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
  • Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.

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Work Styles

  • Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
  • Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
  • Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
  • Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
  • Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.

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Workforce Characteristics

Wages & Employment Trends

Median wage data for Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Health.
Employment data for Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Health.
Industry data for Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Health.
Median wages (2021)
$36.79 hourly, $76,530 annual
State wages
Local wages
Employment (2020)
87,100 employees
Projected growth (2020-2030)
Average (5% to 10%)
Projected job openings (2020-2030)
9,400
State trends
Top industries (2020)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 wage data external site and 2020-2030 employment projections external site. “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.

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Job Openings on the Web

State job openings
Local job openings

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More Information

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