Exam Bulletin - Senior Environmental Scientist (Specialist)

State of California

Exam Code: EX-1301

Examination Plans Included:


Final Filing Date: Applications are accepted on a continuous basis.

Classification Details


View the SENIOR ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENTIST (SPECIALIST) classification specification.

Application Instructions

Applications are accepted on a continuous basis.

Who Should Apply:

The information below will help you determine which classification(s) is(are) appropriate for you. Applicants must meet the Minimum Qualifications as stated on this bulletin to compete in this examination.

Open and Open, Non-Promotional Examination(s):


For all Classifications, once you have participated in any of the following examinations, you may not recompete for 12 months:

Exam Code(s):


For SENIOR ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENTIST (SPECIALIST), once you have participated in any of the following examinations, you may not recompete for 12 months:

Exam Code(s):

  • EX-01301

How To Apply:

Submit an Examination/Employment Application (STD 678) to apply for this examination.

Electronic applications can be submitted through your account at www.CalCareers.ca.gov.

Special Testing Arrangements:

If you require assistance or alternative testing arrangements due to a disability, indicate on your application that you need reasonable accommodation. You will be contacted by a representative of the testing department to make the necessary arrangements. If you have not been contacted by the time you receive notification of testing, please contact the testing department listed in the Contact section of this bulletin.

If you are unable to submit your application or complete the test due to a disability, please contact the testing department listed in the Contact section of this bulletin.

Minimum Qualifications

All applicants must meet the education and/or experience requirements as stated on this exam bulletin to be accepted to the examination.

Unless otherwise stated in the Minimum Qualifications, qualifying experience may be combined on a proportionate basis if the requirements stated below include more than one pattern and are distinguished as "Either" 1, "or" 2, "or" 3, etc. For example, applicants possessing qualifying experience amounting to 50% of the required time of Pattern 1 and additional experience amounting to 50% of the required time of Pattern 2 may be accepted to an examination as meeting 100% of the overall experience requirement.


All Levels:

Education: Possession of a bachelor's or advanced degree with a major in a biological, chemical, physical, or environmental science, soil science, water science, hydrology, agronomy, natural resource science, environmental or public health, physical geography, or a closely related scientific discipline. (Admission to a masters or doctoral degree program in a biological, chemical, physical, or environmental science, soil science, water science, hydrology, agronomy, natural resource science, environmental or public health, physical geography, or a closely related scientific discipline shall be considered to meet these education qualifications.)

Senior Environmental Scientist (Specialist)

Either I

Experience: Two years of experience in the California state civil service performing the duties of an Environmental Scientist, Range C.


Experience: Five years of increasingly responsible professional experience as a scientist in environmental analysis, research, management, planning, regulation, or investigation, two years of which have included responsibility in the development or implementation of environmental policies, programs, plans, or research projects; or conducting an environmental monitoring and surveillance, enforcement, or environmental management program; or in the direction of the work of a multidisciplinary environmental investigatory or regulatory staff, at a level equivalent to that of an Environmental Scientist, Range C, in the California state civil service. Possession of a master's degree in a biological, chemical, physical, or environmental science, soil science, water science, hydrology, agronomy, natural resource science, environmental or public health, physical geography, or a closely related scientific discipline may be substituted for one year of the required general experience; possession of a doctorate in the above-named disciplines may be substituted for two years of the general experience.

Position Description


The Senior Environmental Scientist (Specialist) is the advanced journey level of the series. Incumbents independently identify problems, develop courses of action, and conduct critical and/or sensitive scientific investigations and studies and may prepare guidance, policy, planning, or regulatory documents and legislative proposals on issues of importance to the employer, and do other related work. Decision making at this level has a higher consequence of error than that of an Environmental Scientist, Range C. Incumbents may be assigned lead responsibility for a specific project, program function, or area of expertise; may act as a mentor to lower level staff; and may act as consultants to other technical staff, management, and other agencies in those matters.

In appraising the relative qualifications of candidates, consideration will be given to the extent and type of pertinent experience and education over and above that required under "Minimum Qualifications.  Experience in management, research, planning, or consultation in environmental programs, demonstrated environmental management skills, and knowledge of broad principles of economics , social science, and political science will be given preference.

Some positions within the Department of Health Services may require possession of a valid certificate of registration as an Environmental Health Specialist in the State of California pursuant to California Health and Safety Code Sections 514-534.

For information regarding position location(s), please refer to the Eligible List Information section.

Examination Information

This examination consists of the following components:

  • Online Exam : A passing score must be achieved and is weighted 100% of the final score.

A final score of 70% must be attained to be placed on the eligible list.

In addition to evaluating the applicant's relative knowledge, skill and ability as demonstrated by quality and breadth of education/experience, emphasis in each test component will be on measuring competitively, relative to job demands, each applicant's:

Knowledge of:

  1. Basic principles of land, water, fish, wildlife, and other natural resources research.
  2. Principles of ecology.
  3. Soil and irrigation sciences, resource management, hydrology, geology, and waste prevention.
  4. Statistical methods.
  5. Land-use practices with reference to their general effect on human health, natural resources, agricultural productivity, and the environment.
  6. Effects of hazardous and non-hazardous waste material and their interactions on the environment.
  7. Chemical reactions.
  8. California and Federal environmental laws, rules, regulations, and requirements.
  9. Basic toxicology, hydrology, geology, and principles of risk assessment and risk management.
  10. Concepts employed in a variety of disciplines including environmental planning, economics, and resource management.
  11. Geolocation and geo-referencing software applications, resource conservation program impacts and implementation strategies.
  12. Recycling issues.
  13. Broad knowledge of the legislative process.
  14. California and Federal environmental regulatory and resource management laws, regulations, plans, programs, and policies relating to their program area.
  15. Resource management practices and techniques.
  16. Chemical substances and waste materials and their interactions with and effects on public health and the environment.
Ability to:
  1. Apply or modify scientific methods and principles.
  2. Collect environmental data.
  3. Analyze and evaluate data and reach sound conclusions. 
  4. Review, check, and interpret scientific and environmental reports.
  5. Analyze situations and take appropriate actions. 
  6. Establish and maintain cooperative relations with all persons contacted.
  7. Communicate effectively.
  8. Prepare clear, complete, and technically accurate reports. 
  9. Apply laws, rules, regulations, policies, and requirements of California and Federal environmental protection and resource management programs. 
  10. Assess the impact of proposed State and Federal environmental legislation and regulations.
  11. Understand principles of risk assessment and risk management. 
  12. Work with professionals from a variety of disciplines within and outside of State government.
  13. Review and understand technical research reports on emerging public health and environmental issues.
  14. Develop scientific methodologies, research projects, criteria, procedures, guidelines, reference materials, planning and regulatory documents, and other innovative solutions for critical and/or sensitive environmental management problems. 
  15. Independently plan environmental studies. 
  16. Provide research and evaluation of short-term and important projects concerning public health, agricultural productivity, and environmental protection.
  17. Develop techniques for handling and analyzing a large variety of detailed data.
  18. Communicate the results and implications of studies to nonspecialists.
  19. Act as an expert witness in court or at legislative or quasi-judicial hearings.
  20. Provide leadership in accomplishing basic functions and objectives in assigned programs.
  21. Inspire confidence and effective working relationships with employees, managers, and leaders in government and industry.

Eligible List Information

A Servicewide Open eligible list for the SENIOR ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENTIST (SPECIALIST) Classification will be established for:

  • State of California

The names of successful competitors will be merged onto the eligible list(s) in order of final score regardless of test date. Eligibility expires 12 months after it is established. Applicants must then retake the examination to reestablish eligibility.

Resulting Eligibility List(s) will be used to fill vacancies throughout the State of California.

Veterans' Preference will be granted for this examination. Veterans' Preference is an assistance program for veterans, veteran widows and widowers, and spouses of 100% disabled veterans who seek employment with the state. Veterans' Preference is also extended to currently serving military members nearing their retirement or separation date.

You are not eligible for Veteran's Preference if you are:

  • A veteran who has been dishonorably discharged or released.
  • A veteran, widow or widower of a veteran, or spouse of a 100 percent disabled veteran who currently has permanent civil service status. (Permanent civil service status is the status of an employee who is lawfully retained in his/her position after completion of the applicable probationary period. This does not include limited term).

Veterans' Preference is codified in Government Code Sections 18973 – 18979.

Veteran status is verified by the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR). Directions to apply for Veterans' Preference are on the Veterans' Preference Application (Std. Form 1093), which is available at www.CalCareers.ca.gov, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Career Credits are not granted for examination(s) administered on an Open basis or a Promotional basis.

Senior Environmental Scientist (Specialist) Training and Experience Exam Preview

Section 1: Tasks


Rate your experience performing specific job-related tasks.


Respond to each of the following statements by indicating how the statement applies to you. You are required to respond to every question and provide relevant examples.  Also, indicate the references who can verify the information provided.


In responding to each statement, you may refer to your WORK EXPERIENCE, whether paid or volunteer, your EDUCATION, and/or FORMAL TRAINING COURSES you have completed.


PLEASE NOTE:  This examination is designed to gain an overall assessment of your education, training, and experience as it directly relates to the duties and the knowledge, skills and abilities required for this position.  Possession of specific education is not required to be successful in this examination; however, such achievements may substitute for desirable levels of experience.  All components of this examination have been carefully validated by tying them directly to job requirements and documenting their relevance to the position.

  1. Conducting scientific studies for the protection and restoration of natural and/or agricultural resources, the environment, and the protection of public health.
  2. Reviewing and editing written documents (e.g., scientific and technical reports, project recommendations, restoration plans, program guidelines) to ensure proper content, consistency, completeness, and accuracy.
  3. Presenting information to the public in the form of outreach efforts, oral presentations, and/or public workshops to convey program or project status and obtain public comment.
  4. Conducting project planning to include risks, alternatives, deliverable deadlines, budgets, and/or resources needed to achieve project goals and objectives.
  5. Performing monitoring activities (e.g., inspections, evaluations, investigations, interviews) to ensure the effectiveness of and/or compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and/or project objectives.
  6. Collecting data through use of scientific sampling techniques and available resources (e.g., literature, studies, internet) in accordance with project objectives and study protocols.
  7. Analyzing samples and/or data for the purpose of regulatory action or compliance, enforcement, and/or agency objectives.
  8. Serving as a project lead on environmental projects including completion of project goals, updating management, and meeting deadlines.
  9. Providing technical expertise and recommendations in the areas of environmental science to staff, management, and outside agencies to assist in the development and analysis of programs and/or projects.

Testing Departments

  • State of California

Contact Information

Questions regarding this examination should be directed to:

State of California
CalCareer Service Center
1810 16th Street
Sacramento, CA 95811
Phone: (866) 844-8671

California Relay Service: 1-800-735-2929 (TTY), 1-800-735-2922 (Voice). TTY is a Telecommunications Device for the Deaf, and is reachable only from phones equipped with a TTY Device.

Equal Opportunity Employer

The State of California is an equal opportunity employer to all, regardless of age, ancestry, color, disability (mental and physical), exercising the right to family care and medical leave, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, medical condition, military or veteran status, national origin, political affiliation, race, religious creed, sex (includes pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and related medical conditions), and sexual orientation.

Drug Free Statement

It is an objective of the State of California to achieve a drug-free State work place. Any applicant for State employment will be expected to behave in accordance with this objective, because the use of illegal drugs is inconsistent with the law of the State, the rules governing civil service, and the special trust placed in public servants.

General Information

Examination and/or Employment Application (STD 678) forms are available at the California Department of Human Resources, local offices of the Employment Development Department, and through your CalCareer Account (www.CalCareers.ca.gov).

If you meet the requirements stated on this examination bulletin, you may take this examination, which is competitive. Possession of the entrance requirements does not assure a place on the eligible list. Your performance in the examination described in this bulletin will be rated against a predetermined job-related rating, and all applicants who pass will be ranked according to their scores.

State of California reserves the right to revise the examination plan to better meet the needs of the service, if the circumstances under which this examination was planned change. Such revision will be in accordance with civil service laws and rules and all applicants will be notified.

General Qualifications: Applicants must possess essential personal qualifications including integrity, initiative, dependability, good judgment, the ability to work cooperatively with others, and a state of health consistent with the ability to perform the assigned duties of the class. A medical examination may be required. In open examinations, investigation may be made of employment records and personal history and fingerprinting may be required.

Eligible Lists: Eligible lists established by competitive examination, regardless of date, must be used in the following order: 1) sub-divisional promotional, 2) departmental promotional, 3) multi-departmental promotional, 4) service-wide promotional, 5) departmental open, 6) open. When there are two lists of the same kind, the older must be used first. Eligible lists will expire in one to four years unless otherwise stated on the bulletin.

High School Equivalence: Equivalence to completion of the 12th grade may be demonstrated in any one of the following ways: 1) passing the General Education Development (GED) Test; 2) completion of 12 semester units of college-level work; 3) certification from the State Department of Education, a local school board, or high school authorities that the competitor is considered to have education equivalent to graduation from high school; or 4) for clerical and accounting classes, substitution of business college work in place of high school on a year-for-year basis.

Accepted applicants must provide proof of identification at each in-person test session. Acceptable identification consists of a photo identification card or two forms of signed identification.

Application Methods:
Electronic (Your CalCareer Account)