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How Do I Become Board Certified in Environmental Science?

Specialty certification by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists™ is a voluntary process. People may seek certification as a Board Certified Environmental Scientist. Each person seeking certification as a Board Certified Environmental Scientist must possess certain pre-requisites including:

  • Be engaged in environment science,
  • A baccalaureate degree or higher in environment science or other science field acceptable to the Board of Trustees,
  • Experience in environment science subsequent to receipt of the college degree, and
  • Good moral character and high ethical integrity.

Through a combination of credentials review, examinations, and assessment of work experience a judgment is made regarding qualification for specialty certification. This work is entrusted primarily to the Academy’s Admissions Committee and staff. However, the final decision to grant a certificate rests with the Board of Trustees of the Academy. The process is completed when the person deemed worthy of certification accepts the certificate and the responsibilities that certification entails.

There are two examination paths to specialty certification by the Academy. They differ only in the experience pre-requisites pertaining to each. The elements, which distinguish each of these paths, are described in the following sections.

Certification by Written Examination and Peer Review

This is the principal path used by the Academy to grant specialty certification. Individuals possessing at least eight (8) years of acceptable environment science experience, four (4) of which are in responsible charge, are eligible. The experience must be obtained after the receipt of the baccalaureate degree.

Certification without Written Examination

Those persons possessing at least sixteen (16) years of environment science experience, twelve (12) of which are in responsible charge, after receipt of the baccalaureate degree may qualify for specialty certification by peer review only. The majority of the candidate’s experience must be in the specialty for which certification is sought. Generally, “majority” is defined for these purposes to mean 10 years.

Available Specialties

By obtaining certification, you demonstrate competence through comprehensive written and oral examinations in one or more of the following specialties:

  • Air Resources
  • Environmental Biology
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Microbiology
  • Environmental Toxicology
  • Groundwater and the Subsurface Environment
  • Solid Waste Management
  • Surface Water Resources
  • Sustainability Science

Initial Certification

The qualifications of all candidates for certification are first reviewed by the Academy's Admissions Committee to determine if the Academy's minimum requirements are satisfied and in which specialty the candidate is qualified to be examined. After approval by the Admissions Committee, the candidate is examined using written and/or oral examinations, as appropriate. The results of the examinations are returned to the Admissions Committee for evaluation of the examination results. Those candidates who meet all the prescribed requirements are recommended by the Admissions Committee to the Board of Trustees which votes to grant certification.

The written and oral examinations are specialty specific. They are developed and updated bi-annually by committees composed of Board Certified Environmental Scientists certified in the specialty covered by the examination. Security and scoring of the written examinations are the responsibility of the Academy's Test Administration Department. The oral examinations are conducted by teams of three Board Certified Environmental Scientists in accordance with prescribed guidelines. The hour-long oral examination, one part professional practice issues and two parts technical specialty problems, is used to determine a candidate's ethical concepts, maturity, presence of mind, judgment, and ability to apply principles and concepts which cannot be easily measured by written examinations. Should a candidate fail either one of the two examinations, the failed component(s) may be re-taken pursuant to Academy procedures.

Upon satisfactory completion of the entire Admissions process and paying the prescribed fees, the candidate is granted certification in a specialty recognized by the Academy and awarded the title, "Board Certified Environmental Scientist". A certificate embossed with the name and specialty of the BCES is provided as confirmation.

How Do I Apply for Board Certification in Environmental Science?

The application package provides complete information about the Academy and its programs together with the materials you need to apply.

The application you return to us must include:

  • The original application plus 2 complete copies (unless submitted electronically). Please make sure your experience is fully detailed. It must coincide with the Academy's requirements and the specialty in which you are seeking certification. You must supply the name, address and current phone number of the individual most familiar with your work.
  • Your college transcripts sent by your college or University to the Academy or copies of your diplomas provided by you.
  • Your payment of $75 for application processing. If your application is approved, an examination fee of $175 must be paid before the examination date. If this fee is not paid, you will not be examined.

What to Expect - Whom to Contact

  • Included in the application materials is a diagram of the Specialty Certification Process showing the steps involved. Please note that much of the processing is done by your peers who volunteer their time to staff the process.
  • All applications are due March 31. Applications received after that date will be processed in the succeeding year. Applicants are responsible for ensuring that reference forms and transcripts are also received by the Academy by this deadline.
  • The Admissions Committee reviews each applicant's submission and decides: (1) if an applicant is qualified for examination, (2) the type of examination(s) - written, oral, or both, and (3) the specialty in which the candidate will be examined and potentially certified.
  • Examinations are given under the proctorship of an Academy BCES at locations throughout the U.S. and Canada based on the locations of the candidates to be examined each year. Examinations are given between June and August each year. Candidates will be advised of the exact date and location of the examinations at least 30 days in advance.
  • You will be advised at least 30 days in advance of the time and place of the examination. If you miss the date scheduled, you will be examined in the succeeding year. A book, How to Prepare for the Examinations for Environmental Engineering and Environmental Science Specialty Certifications, is available from the Academy for $35.00 to help you prepare for the examinations.
  • Examinations are scored and the results evaluated by the Admissions Committee in September. The Committee then makes a recommendation to the Board of Trustees for each candidate based upon its evaluation. The Board of Trustees votes to grant or deny certification during its Annual Meeting each November.
  • If you ever have questions about the status of your application, please call J. Sammi Olmo (410-266-3311 or JSOlmo@aaees.org). She tracks each individual application and is best positioned to inform you.

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