• 02-25-2008
    kmoses
    Anyone here an Environmental Consultant?
    I'm a wildlife biologist (BS, MS) and just finished up a 3 year term appointment as a research assistant. I really want to get into environmental consulting/permitting. I don't have much direct experience with some of the job qualifications frequently outlined in job ads (e.g. wetland delineation, NEPA EIS's, 404 permitting) but have ben exposed to them in past college courses. Any tips on how I can appeal to hiring managers? I feel I've got a pretty solid CV demonstrating my productivity and willingness to learn/acquire certification. Would it help to take a wetland delineation of 40hr HAZWOPER certification class?

    Thanks for the help!
    Kmoses
  • 02-25-2008
    ewarnerusa
    I'm an air quality emissions tester with a consulting & testing firm. If you're looking into entering the regulatory side, research how to fill out state gov't applications. There are tricks to getting your resume/supplemental question answers to score well. And it apparently doesn't matter what your qualifications really are, just if you use enough key words to score well. I'm trying to get into that side myself because the excessive traveling involved with the consulting side has burned me out. I'd say if all you've got right now is education, then show it off and play the case that you are now ready to learn real world application. I'm not familiar with the wetland HAZWOPER stuff, but any certifications look good on a resume.
  • 02-25-2008
    debaucherous
    My $0.02
    As a former consultant - here is my advice. Go talk to the people you want to work for. Not the admin staff at the front desk. Go talk to the project managers - the people who will be your boss. Any good consultant knows that the firm's product are the people and the paper they produce.

    Take a resume, and talk with them about what they do. You'll get an indication if the person is the sort you'd like to work for. I was always impressed by potential employees that came looking to talk - PLUS, that sort of fearlessness, going in cold and talking to people is a very valuable and sought after quality (my opinion). I could teach technical stuff, but they can't teach assertiveness, composure, making cold calls for information, handling people, etc. I'd take someone with the moxie to come find me over a great looking paper resume most times (so long as the resume was pretty good).
  • 02-25-2008
    dir-T
    I agree with what Debauch said above. Our new veg specialist was hired after she cold called us (right place at right time). Talk up any field experience that you have because you're likely to start out doing lots of field stuff.

    With an MS you're already overqualified to write NEPA stuff. Because those documents need to be targetted at the "common man" (we call him Joe 6-pack) you don't actually get the chance to get in depth technically. Pick up a couple EAs or EISs and flip through the wildlife sections to see what level of detail is usually presented. It might be different for wildlife but I find it a struggle to present chemistry in a way that is meaningful yet won't fly over the heads of the public readership.

    Are you a wildlife biologist or a plant biologist? If you're strictly wildlife then the wetlands course might not be valuable since there could already be a veg or soils person filling that niche.

    EVERYONE in my company that does environmental or industrial health work has 40 hr HAZWOPER certification or more. Our clients demand it and I'm frankly glad to have it since it does keep me thinking about safety when I'm in remote sites etc. The refreshers can be tailored to suit the class so it's not necessarily all focused on hazmat. It would probably be a plus for you to have it but most companies will pay you to take it if they want to hire you.

    Good luck! You're actually entering the field at a good time since it's becoming harder and harder to find scientists/engineers in this country.
  • 02-25-2008
    Tarekith
    Hope you don't mind me slightly skewing some more questions, but this is related to something I'm going through too. I'm really looking to get into the environmental sciences field (env-engineering, etc), especially for the field work. I just moved to Seattle from Chicago, where I was doing mainly mechanical engineering and project management in the bio-tech field. Long story, but I was going to school for Env-Biology and Geology before I was had to stop and go to work full time due to family medical issues.

    While I see a lot of job openings in the field out here in the Seattle area, I'm having a tough time getting in for interviews even, or convincing those hiring to even meet with me to answer some of my questions. Basically, I'm fully aware that going back to school will be the best way for me to get some experience. But at 32 and with a family now, not working or taking 5-6 year going to school full time is just not an option at the moment. And from what I'm hearing, schooling counts for very little compared to hands on experience, and it feels like I'm 10 years behind the competition.

    Any other options or avenues you guys might be able to suggest? I've been trying to get some face to face time with people in the industry to see what their thoughts are, but like I said, it's been very difficult getting even that far.

    Thanks for any help, I really appreciate it.
  • 02-25-2008
    kmoses
    I think you're definitely right about making some form of personal contact with a potential hiring company. Some of the ones I've applied to are local and smaller. I'll be calling them tomorrow morning to follow-up on my application status. Thanks for the advice.
  • 02-25-2008
    Quercus agrifolia
    I've worked in consulting in the SF Bay Area for about eight years now. My academic background is geology, but my day-to-day work is mostly with groundwater contamination issues.

    Regarding the OP: it sounds like you have the technical background to fit right in as a biology specialist. On paper, you may appear overqualified for an entry-level position, but I think the technical background is important.

    With your resume, I wouldn't push the 'willingness to learn' stuff too hard. I find it best to just present your background, and let the employer make a choice as to whether or not they have a job that fits your experience.

    And don't feel intimidated because you don't have experience with wetlands delineation, EIR preparation, and all that stuff...there is no reason to think that someone entering the field should have that experience. Just lean on what you do know. With your technical background, this is all stuff you can and should learn on the job.

    HAZWOPER certification is important (can't work on many job sites without it), but let your employer pay for it. My company puts all our fresh hires through the 40-hour class and doesn't think twice about it.

    As far as getting in or interviews, I'd stick with the headhunters but also respond directly to advertisements if you see them. We get lots of applicants from placement firms like Aerotek.

    Regarding Terekith's experience: that sucks, man. Having a young family myself, there is no way I could go back to school now. But if you have some environmental background, I'd try to get a job as a technician somewhere. The hours might be long and you might have to travel, but good technicians are worth their weight in gold. You can do that for a couple of years, and then leverage that experience into a job that might not have you in the field so much.

    Regarding the regulatory side (state/local agencies, etc.): there was once a time when a government job was a sure thing. That's no longer the case with budget cuts, agency consolidations, and the like. I feel much more secure in my abilities in the private sector.
  • 02-25-2008
    kmoses
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Quercus agrifolia
    I've worked in consulting in the SF Bay Area for about eight years now. My academic background is geology, but my day-to-day work is mostly with groundwater contamination issues.

    Regarding the OP: it sounds like you have the technical background to fit right in as a biology specialist. On paper, you may appear overqualified for an entry-level position, but I think the technical background is important.

    With your resume, I wouldn't push the 'willingness to learn' stuff too hard. I find it best to just present your background, and let the employer make a choice as to whether or not they have a job that fits your experience.

    And don't feel intimidated because you don't have experience with wetlands delineation, EIR preparation, and all that stuff...there is no reason to think that someone entering the field should have that experience. Just lean on what you do know. With your technical background, this is all stuff you can and should learn on the job.

    HAZWOPER certification is important (can't work on many job sites without it), but let your employer pay for it. My company puts all our fresh hires through the 40-hour class and doesn't think twice about it.

    As far as getting in or interviews, I'd stick with the headhunters but also respond directly to advertisements if you see them. We get lots of applicants from placement firms like Aerotek.

    .

    Thanks for the info QUAG, good to know all those years in the field will pay off. I've mostly been applying directly by a companies website but I do have a resume up on Aerotek. Job hunting has got to be the most stressful thing I've ever done.
  • 02-25-2008
    formica
    I'm married to to a geological engineer-hydrogeologist; specialty is remediation. compliance, permitting etc. We own our own firm now.

    Based on what we've gone through, once you get a few years of experience under your belt the masters is kind of irrevelant. Mr. Formica went straight to work, all his buddies went back to school for a masters. Many years he was ahead of them because of the additional work experience. 20 years later they are all on pretty much equal footing
  • 02-25-2008
    Tarekith
    Thanks guys, sorry to the OP for the added questions in your thread.
  • 02-25-2008
    SlowSSer
    don't forget AICP and whatnot. http://www.planning.org/ will get you in the right direction. http://www.planning.org/aicp/index.htm might also work (subpage of above)

    the industry really isn't hiring right now, but you might have something special that companies are looking for.
  • 02-25-2008
    kmoses
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SlowSSer
    don't forget AICP and whatnot. http://www.planning.org/ will get you in the right direction. http://www.planning.org/aicp/index.htm might also work (subpage of above)

    I'll check 'em out.

    the industry really isn't hiring right now, but you might have something special that companies are looking for.

    Really? I've seen quite a few job listing lately, but I guess since I'm new to this I've got no frame of reference.
  • 02-25-2008
    jgar477
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tarekith
    Hope you don't mind me slightly skewing some more questions, but this is related to something I'm going through too. I'm really looking to get into the environmental sciences field (env-engineering, etc), especially for the field work. I just moved to Seattle from Chicago, where I was doing mainly mechanical engineering and project management in the bio-tech field. Long story, but I was going to school for Env-Biology and Geology before I was had to stop and go to work full time due to family medical issues.

    While I see a lot of job openings in the field out here in the Seattle area, I'm having a tough time getting in for interviews even, or convincing those hiring to even meet with me to answer some of my questions. Basically, I'm fully aware that going back to school will be the best way for me to get some experience. But at 32 and with a family now, not working or taking 5-6 year going to school full time is just not an option at the moment. And from what I'm hearing, schooling counts for very little compared to hands on experience, and it feels like I'm 10 years behind the competition.

    Any other options or avenues you guys might be able to suggest? I've been trying to get some face to face time with people in the industry to see what their thoughts are, but like I said, it's been very difficult getting even that far.

    Thanks for any help, I really appreciate it.

    this was me a couple of years ago. what would help is visiting companies that service gasoline pumps in your area. more than likely they have a construction crew that installs underground storage tanks, gasoline dispensers, etc..., then you have the service guys that repair the pumps when they break down, and some may even have an environmental department which was the case where i used to work before.

    the environmental department was in charge of taking soil samples, water samples, remediation. it is a very well paid technical position to have. other places you could apply are environmental laboratories, refineries, smelters, anywhere they have an environmental department.
  • 02-25-2008
    Harold
    With a bachelor's in biology and just a minor in environmental studies, I was able to land a technician job with a firm in Michigan. The job didn't work out for me...not my cuppa tea. I'm trying to get back to school so I can get more involved in research and teaching (my main interests). Still, getting the job was pretty easy even though the job was mostly groundwater sampling around active and retired landfill sites. All that really mattered to them was that I had a college degree in the sciences and some degree of writing ability. The hired me on, put me through HAZWOPER training (my instructor was a blast...always lighting things on fire and having fun with his fart machine), and all that.

    With a master's, you should be able to compete for jobs better than what I had, for sure. You may not have the experience with some of the permitting issues and whatnot as someone who started as a technician a few years ago, but that master's degree gives you things that those other folks don't have...and employers know it.
  • 02-25-2008
    Panthalassa
    I work for an Environmental Engineering firm in Phoenix and we always subcontract the biology/NEPA work to Archaeology companies. Archaeology companies do a lot of NEPA, 404, flora / fauna work. You can try appying with them if nothing else pans out.
  • 02-26-2008
    Psycho Mike
    Environmental consultant...yup. Lots of funny letters after my name, but that's is essentially my job description up here in Canada.

    I'm a P.Eng. (PE for the US folks) with my Master's, a Certified Environmental Site Assessor (Phase I) with AESAC (a Canadian site assessors association) and have too many safety tickets to list (including Hazwoper).

    I'll agree with a lot of the suggestions you've been given...hilite your strengths, be honest if asked about your weaknesses, but soften the weaknesses with a willingness to take on new challenges (better way of saying it rather than just "willing to learn"). As Debach said, get out there and meet people...consulting is as much people skills as it is technical skills.

    Call ahead, find out who you need to talk to and then get in there. If you're already looking at websites, find out if they have appropriate openings and go in asking about the company, their scope of work and eventually steer your way into talking about the position. If you're showing interest in the company and what they do, you're more likely to stand out than just coming in and saying "You got job, me want!! Pay me heap load money" like sooooo many I've seen.

    Good luck on the hunt, kmoses. :)
  • 07-08-2016
    envusa
    Hi I have a PhD in Environmental Science from Savitribai Phule University of Pune, India. I came to Illinois, USA two years back. I have been trying to explore opportunities in Environmental field in USA. But I m still searching. I would appreciate any suggestions or directions so that I can get to know where to start. This would really help me. I am going back and forth with job and academic search. Since I have done PhD I don't feel like enrolling into courses here but since I don't have experience I feel I am not getting Job offers.

    Thanks for help!
    envusa
  • 07-08-2016
    TSpice
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by envusa View Post
    Hi I have a PhD in Environmental Science from Savitribai Phule University of Pune, India. I came to Illinois, USA two years back. I have been trying to explore opportunities in Environmental field in USA. But I m still searching. I would appreciate any suggestions or directions so that I can get to know where to start. This would really help me. I am going back and forth with job and academic search. Since I have done PhD I don't feel like enrolling into courses here but since I don't have experience I feel I am not getting Job offers.

    Thanks for help!
    envusa

    So your first place to search for a job, coming from India with a PhD in Environmental Science.....is to reopen a thread on a mountain biking forum? Did that PhD come with a free action figure?
  • 07-08-2016
    envusa
    Thank you
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TSpice View Post
    So your first place to search for a job, coming from India with a PhD in Environmental Science.....is to reopen a thread on a mountain biking forum? Did that PhD come with a free action figure?

    Thank you for reading my thread and replying to it.

    I could rarely find a Researcher interested in Phytoremediation which is my field of research. I have invested my four years working on my research and publication. I just don't want to stop there. I want to get a start in Environmental field. I know I am wrong somewhere so I need expert's advise on where could I start on entry level basis. I believe I can excel well in Environmental filed with some training and suggestion from honest heart.

    I also have passion for biking. Me and my partner just get on the trails on weekends. So I thought joining this forum would be appropriate.

    Thank you for your help
  • 07-08-2016
    nvphatty
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TSpice View Post
    So your first place to search for a job, coming from India with a PhD in Environmental Science.....is to reopen a thread on a mountain biking forum? Did that PhD come with a free action figure?

    an 8yo thread no less. pretty :skep:
  • 07-08-2016
    Curveball
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tarekith View Post
    Hope you don't mind me slightly skewing some more questions, but this is related to something I'm going through too. I'm really looking to get into the environmental sciences field (env-engineering, etc), especially for the field work. I just moved to Seattle from Chicago, where I was doing mainly mechanical engineering and project management in the bio-tech field. Long story, but I was going to school for Env-Biology and Geology before I was had to stop and go to work full time due to family medical issues.

    While I see a lot of job openings in the field out here in the Seattle area, I'm having a tough time getting in for interviews even, or convincing those hiring to even meet with me to answer some of my questions. Basically, I'm fully aware that going back to school will be the best way for me to get some experience. But at 32 and with a family now, not working or taking 5-6 year going to school full time is just not an option at the moment. And from what I'm hearing, schooling counts for very little compared to hands on experience, and it feels like I'm 10 years behind the competition.

    Any other options or avenues you guys might be able to suggest? I've been trying to get some face to face time with people in the industry to see what their thoughts are, but like I said, it's been very difficult getting even that far.

    Thanks for any help, I really appreciate it.

    Our company does a lot of hazardous materials, i.e. asbestos and lead paint, work. I sort of doubt that you need a full degree for asbestos surveys. I do the soil/groundwater contamination work as a geologist.

    We're in Seattle too. PM me and I can put you in contact with someone here on the Hazmat side.
  • 07-08-2016
    Curveball
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by nvphatty View Post
    an 8yo thread no less. pretty :skep:

    Doh!

    Now I really feel stupid for not checking the date.
  • 07-08-2016
    Finch Platte
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TSpice View Post
    So your first place to search for a job, coming from India with a PhD in Environmental Science.....is to reopen a thread on a mountain biking forum? Did that PhD come with a free action figure?

    What's wrong with searching the forums for a topic?
  • 07-08-2016
    Harold
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by envusa View Post
    Thank you for reading my thread and replying to it.

    I could rarely find a Researcher interested in Phytoremediation which is my field of research. I have invested my four years working on my research and publication. I just don't want to stop there. I want to get a start in Environmental field. I know I am wrong somewhere so I need expert's advise on where could I start on entry level basis. I believe I can excel well in Environmental filed with some training and suggestion from honest heart.

    I also have passion for biking. Me and my partner just get on the trails on weekends. So I thought joining this forum would be appropriate.

    Thank you for your help

    phytoremediation? you're going to have a really challenging time. I honestly think a university is probably the best place for you. I'm in Indiana with a MS in environmental science and I've focused on wildlife and ecology, but could only get a couple of interviews over the course of about 4 years of searching. Both interviews with wildlife nonprofits, which are SUPER competitive.

    I've given up on getting employed in the field. I've been working on finding ways to get paid for other marketable skills I have. I have set up one business already to do basic GIS work. Working on another idea probably another year or two out.
  • 07-09-2016
    Curveball
    ^Wildlife and ecology, eh?

    That's pretty damn cool in my book.
  • 07-09-2016
    Harold
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Curveball View Post
    ^Wildlife and ecology, eh?

    That's pretty damn cool in my book.

    My degree is technically "Environmental Science" but my thesis involved wildlife and landscape ecology. I think that right there is a big part of my difficulty getting employed in the industry. If only I had known that when I decided whether to pursue a "wildlife biology" degree (which would have required me to take several undergrad level courses to fulfill prerequisites for the grad program) or the "environmental science" degree (which required no prerequisites, since I had the course background).

    So, instead, I'm changing career tracks. Getting into guiding and coaching mtb. Quite possibly also guiding hiking and other outdoor trips, too.
  • 07-09-2016
    Ratt
    Since this thread got re-animated. So Kmoses did you land the job you wanted?
  • 07-10-2016
    Curveball
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    My degree is technically "Environmental Science" but my thesis involved wildlife and landscape ecology. I think that right there is a big part of my difficulty getting employed in the industry. If only I had known that when I decided whether to pursue a "wildlife biology" degree (which would have required me to take several undergrad level courses to fulfill prerequisites for the grad program) or the "environmental science" degree (which required no prerequisites, since I had the course background).

    So, instead, I'm changing career tracks. Getting into guiding and coaching mtb. Quite possibly also guiding hiking and other outdoor trips, too.

    My thesis was the tectonic evolution and structure of the Methow Gneiss.

    I had to learn environmental science on the job.
  • 07-10-2016
    Harold
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Curveball View Post
    My thesis was the tectonic evolution and structure of the Methow Gneiss.

    I had to learn environmental science on the job.

    For one, I don't want a traditional environmental science job. Had one after I got my bachelor's. Hated it. Groundwater sampling around landfills and report writing. Part of the reason I went back to grad school. I wanted a job more related to my thesis than to the title of my degree.
  • 07-10-2016
    Curveball
    I understand that.

    I'm spending my whole weekend entering chemical data into tables for a report because my junior staff effed it all up. The report is due to the client tomorrow.

    No riding for me today.
  • 07-11-2016
    Harold
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Curveball View Post
    I understand that.

    I'm spending my whole weekend entering chemical data into tables for a report because my junior staff effed it all up. The report is due to the client tomorrow.

    No riding for me today.

    I handled the periodic data entry and report writing. Comes with any science. The field work was more mindless than the factory job I had one summer as an undergrad
  • 07-26-2016
    DaveRider
    I think if someone was to consult the environment of India, it would say, "Stay here in India, Envusa my son. I am really polluted & need your help."