Industrial Ecologists

Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics > Science and Mathematics

Projected Growth: Faster than average

Projected Job Openings

Extensive Preparation Needed

Job Description

Your job is to 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.

Common job titles of Industrial Ecologists include:

Experience and Education

Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.

  • 50% said they needed a Master's Degree.

  • 20.83% said they needed a Doctoral Degree.


    Identify environmental impacts caused by products, systems, or projects.

    Build and maintain databases of information about energy alternatives, pollutants, natural environments, industrial processes, and other information related to ecological change.

    Translate the theories of industrial ecology into eco-industrial practices.

    Identify or develop strategies or methods to minimize the environmental impact of industrial production processes.

    Review research literature to maintain knowledge on topics related to industrial ecology, such as physical science, technology, economy, and public policy.

    Perform analyses to determine how human behavior can affect, and be affected by, changes in the environment.

    Examine societal issues and their relationship with both technical systems and the environment.

    Research environmental effects of land and water use to determine methods of improving environmental conditions or increasing outputs, such as crop yields.

    Identify or compare the component parts or relationships between the parts of industrial, social, and natural systems.

    Examine local, regional, or global use and flow of materials or energy in industrial production processes.

    Recommend methods to protect the environment or minimize environmental damage from industrial production practices.

    Redesign linear, or open-loop, systems into cyclical, or closed-loop, systems so that waste products become inputs for new processes, modeling natural ecosystems.

    Promote use of environmental management systems (EMS) to reduce waste or to improve environmentally sound use of natural resources.

    Prepare technical and research reports, such as environmental impact reports, and communicate the results to individuals in industry, government, or the general public.

    Prepare plans to manage renewable resources.

    Identify sustainable alternatives to industrial or waste-management practices.

    Evaluate the effectiveness of industrial ecology programs, using statistical analysis and applications.

    Conduct environmental sustainability assessments, using material flow analysis (MFA) or substance flow analysis (SFA) techniques.

    Analyze changes designed to improve the environmental performance of complex systems and avoid unintended negative consequences.

    Carry out environmental assessments in accordance with applicable standards, regulations, or laws.

    Conduct scientific protection, mitigation, or restoration projects to prevent resource damage, maintain the integrity of critical habitats, and minimize the impact of human activities.

    Monitor the environmental impact of development activities, pollution, or land degradation.

    Plan or conduct field research on topics such as industrial production, industrial ecology, population ecology, and environmental production or sustainability.

    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.

    Research sources of pollution to determine environmental impact or to develop methods of pollution abatement or control.

    Review industrial practices, such as the methods and materials used in construction or production, to identify potential liabilities and environmental hazards.

    Perform environmentally extended input-output (EE I-O) analyses.

    Conduct analyses to determine the maximum amount of work that can be accomplished for a given amount of energy in a system, such as industrial production systems and waste treatment systems.

    Apply new or existing research about natural ecosystems to understand economic and industrial systems in the context of the environment.

    Develop alternative energy investment scenarios to compare economic and environmental costs and benefits.

    Conduct applied research on the effects of industrial processes on the protection, restoration, inventory, monitoring, or reintroduction of species to the natural environment.

    Forecast future status or condition of ecosystems, based on changing industrial practices or environmental conditions.

    Create complex and dynamic mathematical models of population, community, or ecological systems.

    Develop or test protocols to monitor ecosystem components and ecological processes.

    Investigate the impact of changed land management or land use practices on ecosystems.

    Investigate the adaptability of various animal and plant species to changed environmental conditions.

    Investigate accidents affecting the environment to assess ecological impact.


Personal computers

Multi-line telephone systems

Laser facsimile machines

Laptop computers

Desktop computers

Computer data input scanners


Adobe Systems Adobe Illustrator

ESRI ArcGIS software


Economic Input-Output Life Cycle Assessment EIO-LCA

Online databases

PRe Consultants SimaPro

Production Flow Analysis and Simplification Toolkit PFAST

All Technologies


Substance Flow Analysis STAN

Wolfram Research Mathematica


Reading Comprehension

Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.


Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Critical Thinking

Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Active Listening

Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.


Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Judgment and Decision Making

Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Complex Problem Solving

Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.


Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.

Active Learning

Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

Systems Analysis

Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.

Systems Evaluation

Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.


Using mathematics to solve problems.


Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Social Perceptiveness

Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.


Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.

Learning Strategies

Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.


Teaching others how to do something.


Apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

Cognitive Abilities › Idea Generation and Reasoning Abilities › Deductive Reasoning

Communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

Cognitive Abilities › Verbal Abilities › Written Expression

Combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

Cognitive Abilities › Idea Generation and Reasoning Abilities › Inductive Reasoning

Listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.

Cognitive Abilities › Verbal Abilities › Oral Comprehension

Read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.

Cognitive Abilities › Verbal Abilities › Written Comprehension

Communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.

Cognitive Abilities › Verbal Abilities › Oral Expression

Tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.

Cognitive Abilities › Idea Generation and Reasoning Abilities › Problem Sensitivity

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).

Cognitive Abilities › Idea Generation and Reasoning Abilities › Information Ordering

Choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.

Cognitive Abilities › Quantitative Abilities › Mathematical Reasoning

Generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.

Cognitive Abilities › Idea Generation and Reasoning Abilities › Category Flexibility

Come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).

Cognitive Abilities › Idea Generation and Reasoning Abilities › Fluency of Ideas

Come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.

Cognitive Abilities › Idea Generation and Reasoning Abilities › Originality

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