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Understanding the Role of an Environmental Biologist

written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen•edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 7/9/2010

Will discuss what an environmental biologist is and what they do. Will also discuss the required education.

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    There are two different types of environmental biologists. Both types evaluate the impact that environmental conditions have on wetlands, wildlife, fisheries, and endangered or threatened species that the habitats that live in. They also study ecological biodiversity, genetics, climate change, soil erosion and water, human encroachment, and pollution and their effects on the earth's ecosystems.

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    Working Conditions

    Role of an Environmental Biologist Environmental biologists spend most of their time in the laboratory or in the field. However, some choose to work as professors in colleges and universities. Many will work regular schedules, but those working in laboratories and in the field may find themselves working overtime. Those working in the field will be working in all types of weather, in bodies of water, and may have to travel long distances to collect samples and conduct on-site research. Though most do not, some environmental biologists will work with toxic substances or dangerous organisms and must strictly adhere to all safety procedures so that they avoid contamination.

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    Education and Training

    Those wishing to work as environmental biologists are most often required to obtain a Master's degree or PhD. They will take many courses in biology, but will need other courses as well. These often include math, chemistry, physics, geography, earth science, and ecology. Law classes, particularly environmental law, can also be greatly beneficial and are sometimes required by certain employers.

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    Getting the Job

    First and foremost, students should obtain a higher level of education in a related field, such as environmental science or biology with an environmental science concentration. Aspiring environmental biologists can check with their local state government, or the federal government, for available jobs. They can also check local newspapers, online career sites, and with their school's counseling or career services office for available positions.

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    Career Outlook and Salary

    The average annual salary for environmental biologists is $42,379.00. However, annual salaries vary greatly with higher salaries at approximately $80,000.00 and lower salaries at approximately $30,000.00. There is a constant and growing need for environmental biologists. They are needed to analyze, interpret, and enforce environmental laws and policies, as well as study and protect the earth's ecosystems. This need is expected to continue to grow throughout the next ten years.

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    American Institute of Biological Sciences. (2010). Careers in the Biological Sciences. Retrieved on December 25, 2009 from from the American Institute of Biological Sciences:

    EnviroEducation. (2006). Biology: Educational and Career Outlook. Retrieved on December 25, 2009 from EnviroEducation:

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    Image Credits

    Field: zitherica -