Environmental Scientist

Boasting rich biological and ecological diversity, South Africa’s natural landscape provides essential ecosystem services that supports socio-economic growth, development and livelihoods. Environmental risks, brought on by for example climate change, extreme weather events, increasing production and consumption, amongst others could significantly compromise these ecosystems and dependent human wellbeing and livelihoods. Environmental science explores environmental phenomena and people’s interactions within the environment to identify opportunities for synergy and sustainable management.

Environmental scientists study the environment and interrelationships of plants, animals and other organisms within it. They also consider external interactions and influences to understand changes within the environment. They conduct environmental impact assessments and write reports identifying potential environmental risks and develop management systems to address these potential challenges. Some develop environmental standards, guidelines and policies for industry to prevent further harm and to maximise protection of the environment.

Through an interdisciplinary approach, environmental scientists collaborate with ecologists, environmental engineers and other professionals to address particular environmental challenges. They can work between an office and laboratory and travel to field sites to collect air, soil, water and other data for analysis.


Environmental scientists need to have an extensive understanding of environmental phenomena and interrelationships within the environment and will also benefit from:

  • Strong analytical and problem-solving ability
  • Ability to carry out fieldwork and laboratory processes
  • Understanding of environmental legislation and policies
  • Good verbal and written communication and presentation skills


Conduct environmental audits to evaluate potential impacts

Develop and coordinate the implementation of environmental management systems

Assess organisational compliance of environmental regulations

Provide technical advice and support to organisations


B.Sc., B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc. in Environmental Science at NMU, RU, UCT, UJ, UKZN, UMP, UP, UWC and Wits

B.Sc., B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc. in Geography specialising in Environmental Studies at all universities


National, provincial and local government.

NGOs, community-based and development organisations.

Research institutions.

Construction and manufacturing companies.

Private environmental consultancies.

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