Environmental Monitor

As an environmental monitor, it’s your job to study the natural world and to make sure that human activities don’t harm the environment. For example, an environmental monitor working for a mine would spend most days outdoors collecting samples of water, air, land, and plants. They would measure the dirt roads, making sure the roads don’t erode into the nearby creek and create silt in the creek (which would probably kill any fish in the creek). They’d collect all of this data out in the field and send it back to labs for analysis. Environmental monitors generally work for government departments, environmental boards, large corporations, and consulting companies.

At a Glance

Imagine that a large film production crew wants to shoot a movie in a remote outdoor location a few hours north of your community. Local authorities have allowed the crew to use the land, but only on the condition that the environment will not be harmed while they’re on location. To make sure there are no negative environmental effects, you’ve been hired to monitor the film shoot. You spend your time closely monitoring the film crew and their camp, taking various samples of the earth and water.

As an environmental monitor, you observe and report on how humans interact with the environment. This job often takes you to remote areas to conduct studies, and you often do this work alone. At other times, it may take you out of the country. Most of your work is conducted outdoors, but you may also spend time inside, writing reports and analyzing the data and samples that you’ve collected in the field. It’s an exciting job that provides you with the opportunity to visit all sorts of incredible, natural environments.

When the shoot is over, you will write a report outlining solutions to any problems that may have occurred. The report will also contain records of the various tests that have been done in case municipal or provincial governments want proof of compliance with their regulations. You know that human impacts on the environment have been kept to a minimum, and you feel proud that you have played your part in preserving the natural environment.

Job Duties

Duties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as an environmental monitor:

  • Keep track of the effects that new programs or projects have on the environment
  • Collect samples to study air and soil pollution
  • Help in the operation and maintenance of water monitoring
  • Operate and maintain field and lab equipment
  • Identify archaeological resources
  • Write technical reports
  • Operate various motor vehicles and, possibly, firearms

Work Environment

Environmental monitors work in a variety of locations, including, but not limited to:

In the field:

  • Collect samples of air, water, land, and plants
  • Measure affected environmental area to ensure that the ecological system is in balance
  • Closely monitor the area for any disruptions to the environment

In the lab:

  • Analyze the data and samples collected in the field

Where to Work

  • Federal, provincial/territorial, regional, and civic government
  • Environmental boards
  • Large corporations
  • Consulting companies

Education and Skills

In most cases, the minimum educational requirement to work as an environmental monitor is a high school diploma, but most environmental monitors have completed at least a two-year college or technical diploma in environmental science or engineering technology. The following post-secondary programs are most applicable to a career in this field:

  • Biology
  • Environmental science
  • Engineering technology

Before entering the workforce, some environmental monitors require additional training in:

  • Bear awareness
  • First aid
  • Global positioning systems (GPS) usage
  • Canadian firearms safety
  • Map reading
  • Workplace hazardous materials information system (WHMIS)

If you are a high school student considering a career as an environmental monitor, you should have a strong interest in:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Math
  • Computer science
  • Geography
  • English

Role Models

Your Impact

Occupational Classification

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