You are here

Home » State Human Resources » Compensation & job classes » Classified Job Listing » » State of Washington Class Specification

State of Washington Classified Job Specification


<< Classified Job Listing

Class Code: 523H
Category: Science & Engineering


Serves as a senior environmental section specialist in program specific environmental laws, environmental regulations, and related activities in order to protect, preserve, and enhance air, land, and water resources; or serves as a senior environmental specialist in specific environmental public health programs in order to protect public health due to environmental factors. In either option, positions make decisions involving multiple stakeholders and that have significant public health, environmental protection, economic, and political consequences. Assigned areas of responsibility involve environmental assessments and protection actions that regularly require evaluation and coordination of interrelated environmental impacts on multiple specialty areas;


Manages all the environmental regulatory and analyses functions of an agency.

Distinguishing Characteristics

Positions at this level use in-depth knowledge of the program area to carry out assignments, function independently, and require only general direction from the supervisor. Assignments are carried out using policies and program objectives and the work is planned and organized based on program priorities and deadlines.

In addition, positions functioning as a senior environmental specialist are characterized by one or more of the following assignments which comprise the majority of the position:

• As a senior environmental section specialist, responds to highly complex inquiries for technical assistance requiring an advanced scientific knowledge;
• Develops, negotiates, implements, and monitors terms of agreements for environmental mitigation efforts, remedial actions, grants and loans, and other environmental actions. Gains consensus from multiple stakeholders and interest groups;
• Manages contract process for assigned area; writes, oversees and ensures contract completion and payment of invoices; proposes and negotiates new projects;
• Develops budget and spending plans for programs and initiatives;
• Oversees local governments grant reporting, performance outcomes, record review and analysis;
• Represents the agency as a senior environmental section specialist in enforcement actions, hearings, and legal proceedings. Provides testimony in cases involving the approval, denial, or conditioning of permits; the imposition of civil penalties; or in cases which form the basis for precedent-setting interpretations of agency jurisdiction and regulatory authority; leads multidisciplinary teams in complex regulatory reviews;
• Reviews, analyzes, develops and recommends policies, guidelines, and regulations governing assigned area of responsibility. Accepts stakeholder input, evaluates concerns, and recommends actions to management. Analyzes legislative bills for potential impacts on program administration. Reviews, analyzes, and evaluates previous litigation, permits, and other data in order to develop effective regulatory guidelines;
• As a senior environmental section specialist, represents the program in an assigned specialty area; provides scientific and technical consultation to other agency staff, local and federal agencies on environmental impacts of various activities. Develops partnerships with communities, businesses, and interest groups in order to identify and respond to environmental issues affecting the common interest. Develops and enhances environmental protections and oversees implementation of changes;
• Assesses adverse environmental conditions and makes decisions that impact large numbers of the public (e.g. makes voluntary and mandatory wood stove burning curtailment decisions for the program);
• Responds to high priority and complex threats to the environment and human health emergencies. Coordinates all phases of a response with the appropriate private, local, state, and federal representatives and directs environmental response contractors. Conducts operations to control, contain, and clean up threats to the environment and human health; investigates the causes of the threat and recommends and takes appropriate response actions, including enforcement;
• Assesses the impacts of pollution on natural resources, gathers legally defensible data, develops damage estimates, and solicits and recommends appropriate restoration proposals;
• Plans, develops, designs and conducts professional research studies in order to determine the scientific validity of environmental enhancement efforts and impacts on interrelated natural resources. Provides scientific and technical assistance to other professional staff in environmental planning, regulation, and mitigation efforts.

Typical Work

Writes federal permits and determines application of federal regulations;

Makes recommendations and determinations on environmental issues where there are no established standards or practices;

Makes decisions regarding environment, public health and safety and determines appropriate responses;

Develops innovative approaches to ensure compliance with environmental laws and regulations;

Conducts scientific evaluation of programs and initiatives; conducts economic and market analyses;

Interpret and provide guidance on environmental laws, policies, rulemaking and audit findings to regulated communities and stakeholders;

Serves in the teaching, training and mentoring of lower level staff;

Responsible for more complex and difficult projects and permits;

Assigned multiple regulatory responsibilities;

Directs or coordinates non-agency employees at large spills or complex sites;

Represents agency at internal and external workgroups and testifies at legal or public hearings or conferences;

Serves as a historical resource or technical expert in one or more subject areas;

Serves as project manager and coordinator on complex projects;

Project administration and environmental technical assistance on high priority environmental issues requiring technical expertise;

Performs the duties of the lower levels in the series;

Performs other work as required.

Knowledge and Abilities

Knowledge of: principles, practices and methods of environmental or resource management and environmental pollution prevention and pollution control; the application of emerging technologies to existing methods and of techniques of environmental sampling, testing, data gathering, basic research and field investigations; applicable state, federal and local environmental regulations and policies; multimedia environmental principles and practices.

Ability to: provide technical direction to professional staff for complex or controversial studies or projects; design and develop guidelines for enforcement activities, field studies and siting surveys; provide final review for technical reports, permit evaluations and conclusions reached by professional staff; work effectively with diverse groups and individuals representing competing interests on complex and controversial environmental issues.

Legal Requirement(s)

There may be instances where individual positions must have additional licenses or certification. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure the appropriate licenses/certifications are obtained for each position.

Desirable Qualifications

A Bachelor's degree involving major study in environmental, physical, or one of the natural sciences, environmental planning or other allied field and five years of professional level experience in environmental analysis or control, or environmental planning which includes one year equal to an Environmental Specialist 3 or above or two years equal to an Environmental Specialist 2 or above.

Additional qualifying experience will substitute, year for year, for education.


A Master's degree in one of the above fields and three years of professional level experience as required above which includes one year equal to an Environmental Specialist 3 or above or two years equal to an Environmental Specialist 2 or above.


A Ph.D. in one of the above fields and two years of professional level experience as required above which includes one year equal to an Environmental Specialist 3 or above or two years equal to an Environmental Specialist 2 or above.


Two years of experience as an Environmental Specialist 3. 

Class Specification History

New class: 5-5-72.
Revised minimum qualifications: 9-15-72.
General revision: 11-10-78.
Revised distinguishing characteristics: 4-12-79.
Revised minimum qualifications: 2-15-80.
Revised definition, distinguishing characteristics and minimum qualifications: 4-11-86.
Revised distinguishing characteristics: 4-15-86.
Revised definition and minimum qualifications, deleted distinguishing characteristics, general revision and title change (formerly Environmentalist 4): 3-11-94.
Revised new class code: (formerly 62980) effective July 1, 2007.
Revise definition, add distinguishing characteristics; adopted November 8, 2012, effective November 9, 2012.
Revised distinguishing characteristics, typical work, knowledge and abilities, salary range adjustment, adopted June 22, 2023, effective July 1, 2023.