Industrial Ecologists

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.

Median Annual Wage: $66,250

Education: Master's degree (50%); Doctoral degree (21%); Bachelor's degree (17%)

Projected Growth: Faster than average (15% to 21%)

Related Job Titles: Environmental Services Director; Research Scientist; Environmental Consultant; Researcher; Ecologist; Environmental Programs Manager; Environmental Protection Agency Counselor; Environmental Sustainability Manager; Research Environmental Engineer

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Source: O*NET OnLine information for Industrial Ecologists.

More Life, Physical, and Social Science Careers

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

Source: O*NET OnLine information for Industrial Ecologists.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Science - Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
  • Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Systems Analysis - Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.

Source: O*NET OnLine information for Industrial Ecologists.

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