Environmental Scientist

Larry Breckenridge

Tell us about your work---what do you do? I am a hydrologist and an environmental scientist . I work on projects for mining and other clients. I help them with groundwater compliance or with groundwater supply. What skills are needed? I have a master's degree in environmental science , and mostly I use my technical and engineering knowledge to help find and extract groundwater. I also use quite a bit of chemistry , especially when exploring groundwater contamination . What was your major? Environmental Science How did you get started in your career? I attended graduate school and got an 8-month posting with a surface coal mine in Wyoming. I designed their groundwater model for their environmental permit, and they funded my master's thesis. I first started in environmental science because I love nature, and it is an easier and more interesting engineering field than civil or electrical. What experience do you need in this job? At first, I guess none. At present, my experience in hazardous waste, drilling, and groundwater development are more valuable than my education. Describe your "typical" workday: In the office, I read reports, write reports, analyze aquifers, write more reports, and write proposals for more work. In the field, I collect samples, drill soil borings, install wells, and conduct tests on aquifer properties. What is the hardest aspect of your job? The hardest aspect is the travel. Sometimes you must spend weeks away from home. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? Last year, I went to Bolivia to develop groundwater for a potential silver mine. After three months down there, I learned Spanish, made great friends, and engaged in some of the most interesting work of my life What are your suggestions for someone considering this field? Get an engineering degree if you want to be in environmental work. Try to stay away from standard environmental cleanup unless you are a biological engineer. Ask if you will be doing hazardous cleanup and decide if you really want to work all day in a plastic suit with deadly chemicals.