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Industrial Ecologists Career

Career Description

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.

What Job Titles Industrial Ecologists Might Have

  • Ecologist
  • Research Environmental Engineer
  • Research Scientist
  • Researcher

What Industrial Ecologists Do

  • Identify environmental impacts caused by products, systems, or projects.
  • 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.
  • Recommend methods to protect the environment or minimize environmental damage from industrial production practices.
  • Build and maintain databases of information about energy alternatives, pollutants, natural environments, industrial processes, and other information related to ecological change.
  • Identify or compare the component parts or relationships between the parts of industrial, social, and natural systems.
  • 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.

What Industrial Ecologists Should Be Good At

  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Mathematical Reasoning - The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
  • Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.

What Industrial Ecologists Should Be Interested In

  • Investigative - Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

What Industrial Ecologists Need to Learn

  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Engineering and Technology - Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Chemistry - Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
  • Production and Processing - Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
  • Administration and Management - Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  • Biology - Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
  • Law and Government - Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
Leaf iconThis career is a green occupation.
Sun iconThis career has a bright outlook.
Diploma iconThis career requires a graduate degree.
Median Salary: $68,910

This page includes information from O*NET OnLine by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.