Environmental Compliance Inspector
An environmental compliance inspector could...
|Investigate complaints of illegal pollution from an individual or a business.||Inspect water treatment facilities to make sure they are in compliance with standards.|
|Provide expert testimony in court about environmental violations.||Make sure a landfill is processing trash in compliance with local environmental regulations.|
Key Facts & Information
|Overview||Our environment on planet Earth is made up of the air, water, and land. Environmental compliance inspectors work to protect and preserve our environment and the public by making sure communities, individuals, businesses, and state and local governments are in compliance with pollution laws and regulations.|
|Key Requirements||Detail-oriented, analytical, observant, responsible, with excellent communication skills|
|Minimum Degree||Bachelor's degree|
|Subjects to Study in High School||Biology, chemistry, physics, algebra, geometry, algebra II, pre-calculus; if available, environmental science, physiology, statistics|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||More Slowly than Average (3% to 6%)|
Education and Training
The minimum requirement for this occupation is a bachelor's degree in biology, chemistry, engineering, environmental sciences, environmental law, or a related subject. A post-graduate degree is recommended for advancement into senior positions. Some positions might require registration with a professional association.
It is beneficial to have working knowledge of environmental management systems (such as ISO 14001), occupational health and safety systems, waste/wastewater legislation, statistics, and accounting procedures.
Environmental compliance specialists must be analytical and detail-oriented, with the ability to collect, compile, evaluate and interpret data within the context of pollution regulations. They must be able to work independently and within teams and have excellent written and oral communication skills.
Nature of the Work
Environmental compliance specialists inspect and investigate sources of pollution to protect the public and environment and ensure conformance with federal, state, and local regulations and ordinances.
A junior-level environmental compliance specialist is responsible for monitoring facility operations and preparing reports. The responsibility of an intermediate-level environmental compliance specialist advances from monitoring facility operations to analyzing reports in order to identify cases of non-compliance and the appropriate enforcement. Other responsibilities include managing overall reporting, and conducting internal audits. A senior-level position requires establishing working relationships with regulatory authorities, and an integrated practice and knowledge of environmental regulations, reporting requirements, standards, and codes.
Work involves a mix of indoor and outdoor activities. Indoor work is performed in an office setting. Outdoor work includes field surveys and site visits to various institutional, commercial, and industrial settings. Travel may be required for this occupation.
On the Job
- Determine the nature of code violations and actions to be taken, and issue written notices of violation; participate in enforcement hearings as necessary.
- Examine permits, licenses, applications, and records to ensure compliance with licensing requirements.
- Prepare, organize, and maintain inspection records.
- Interview individuals to determine the nature of suspected violations and to obtain evidence of violations.
- Prepare written, oral, tabular, and graphic reports summarizing requirements and regulations, including enforcement and chain of custody documentation.
- Monitor follow-up actions in cases where violations were found, and review compliance monitoring reports.
- Investigate complaints and suspected violations regarding illegal dumping, pollution, pesticides, product quality, or labeling laws.
- Inspect waste pretreatment, treatment, and disposal facilities and systems for conformance to federal, state, or local regulations.
- Inform individuals and groups of pollution control regulations and inspection findings, and explain how problems can be corrected.
- Determine sampling locations and methods, and collect water or wastewater samples for analysis, preserving samples with appropriate containers and preservation methods.
- Verify that hazardous chemicals are handled, stored, and disposed of in accordance with regulations.
- Research and keep informed of pertinent information and developments in areas such as EPA laws and regulations.
- Determine which sites and violation reports to investigate, and coordinate compliance and enforcement activities with other government agencies.
- Observe and record field conditions, gathering, interpreting, and reporting data such as flow meter readings and chemical levels.
- Learn and observe proper safety precautions, rules, regulations, and practices so that unsafe conditions can be recognized and proper safety protocols implemented.
- Evaluate label information for accuracy and conformance to regulatory requirements.
- Inform health professionals, property owners, and the public about harmful properties and related problems of water pollution and contaminated wastewater.
- Analyze and implement state, federal or local requirements as necessary to maintain approved pretreatment, pollution prevention, and storm water runoff programs.
- Perform laboratory tests on samples collected, such as analyzing the content of contaminated wastewater.
- Review and evaluate applications for registration of products containing dangerous materials, or for pollution control discharge permits.
- Research and perform calculations related to landscape allowances, discharge volumes, production-based and alternative limits, and wastewater strength classifications, then make recommendations and complete documentation.
- Participate in the development of spill prevention programs and hazardous waste rules and regulations, and recommend corrective actions for hazardous waste problems.
- Maintain and repair materials, worksites, and equipment.
- Conduct research on hazardous waste management projects in order to determine the magnitude of problems, and treatment or disposal alternatives and costs.
- Respond to questions and inquiries, such as those concerning service charges and capacity fees, or refer them to supervisors.
Companies That Hire Environmental Compliance Inspectors
Explore what you might do on the job with one of these projects...
- Air Particles and Air Quality
- Air Pollution
- Are There Dangerous Levels of Lead in Local Soil?
- Build Your Own Radon Detector
- Can Water Plants Be Used to Determine Water Quality?
- Do Plants Promote Pesticide Breakdown?
- Froggy Forecasting: How Frog Health Predicts Pond Health
- Going Green as You Clean: Are 'Green' Detergents Less Toxic Than Conventional Detergents?
- Silt Deposits in Streams
- Using Daphnia to Monitor Water Toxicity
- Water Quality
Do you have a specific question about a career as an Environmental Compliance Inspector that isn't answered on this page? Post your question on the Science Buddies Ask an Expert Forum.
- Board of Certified Safety Professionals: www.bcsp.org/
- National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP): www.naep.org
- O*Net Online. (2016). National Center for O*Net Development. Retrieved July 1, 2017, from https://www.onetonline.org/
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, YouTube. (2012, June 15). EPA Careers: Robert Courtnage. Retrieved March 19, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOQdbX_HhC8
- Waterloo's Faculty of Environment, YouTube. (2010, April 12). Cool Job - Environmental Specialist at John Deere Reman. Retrieved March 19, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gwg7Ot-Kyo
- Department of Labor and Workforce Development. (2010, January 19). Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Health Job Description. Retrieved January 19, 2010, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVT4IFa_od4
Explore Our Science Videos
Make a Hygrometer to Measure Humidity - STEM activity
How to Make an Electromagnet
Fire Snake Experiment