census hands

Getting Counted

What does an April 1 deadline for the 2010 Census form say to you? Did you miss it? Don't sweat it, the government will accept your form through mid-April, (right around tax time) and if you don't do mail it back by then, census takers may come knocking at your door.

As soon as I got the Census form, I mailed it back in, always trying to be the good citizen. But now I'm wishing I had it back and that it asked some more questions, like, "What do you do for a living?" People frequently ask me how many environmental professionals there are and I wish I had the answer. Any guesses?

I asked Dick Young, executive director of the National Registry of Professionals, because he has been involved in the industry for some time and I respect his opinion. His answer: 70,000 in the industrial sector. That number is based on the number of industrial facilities employing 50 or more people in the United States. The assumption is that each of these facilities must have at least one environmental professional on staff.

Separately, I checked the Bureau of Labor Statistics, thinking that the Web site would display "Environmental Professionals ─ XXXXXXX." But no, there is no simple answer. The bureau breaks down the numbers by sector: waste management, remediation, collection, treatment and disposal, hazardous waste, nonhazardous waste, material recovery, and consultants. I added all these together and the sum for 2009 was 992,000 environmental professionals (and probably includes operators as well as managers).

That's a pretty big number, but I still don't think the bureau database covered all the possibilities. I didn't find a listing for environmental professionals working in government, for example. Another problem is that the field is changing; consider the sustainability and global climate change markets.

Counting heads would be a lot easier if there was a standard definition of an environmental professional. Any ideas?

Posted on Apr 05, 2010

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