Do you want to do your bit for the environment? Do you want to make a career out of helping companies reduce their emissions? Do you want to make a difference? I thought so! Well then, it’s high time you found out all about the professional lives of environmental consultants.
Environmental consultants provide expert assessment and advisory services for their clients on matters pertaining to the management of environmental issues. In doing so, these guys play an integral role in reducing the detrimental impact of industrial, commercial and government initiatives on the environment.
If you become an environmental consultant, you’ll be evaluating current environmental policy, management systems and processes through comprehensive audits, and measuring environmental contamination inside and outside the client organisation’s premises.
Following this assessment process, you’ll be helping clients to design and implement efficient systems and processes to mitigate current and future environmental damage.
Furthermore, you’ll be responsible for making sure that revised environmental policies and procedures comply with environmental laws and regulations. You may also be responsible for raising organisational awareness on the importance of conservation, sustainability and other environment-related matters.
Environmental consultants tend to be employed by environmental consultancy firms with a client base which includes public sector and commercial organisations. Some environmental consultants may even run their own consulting business.
A significant percentage of consultants are commissioned by major industrial companies in the manufacturing and production sector, where environmental management is a critical aspect of their day-to-day operations.
Salary & benefits
Annual salaries for environmental consultants in the early stages of their careers range between £22,000 and £33,000, while mid-level consultants can expect to earn between £30,000 and £45,000.
Senior environmental consultants with an abundance of experience and strategic decision-making responsibilities can even earn up to £60,000 a year.
Since travelling around may be a frequent part of your job, some employers may provide their consultants with a company car or a transport allowance.
When carrying out field assessments, you’ll tend to have an irregular working schedule in order to fit around your clients’ various other commitments.
In fact, you may even have to work during the weekend from time to time. However, when you’re in the office you’ll most likely be working between eight and ten hours a day.
Securing a full-time position as an environmental consultant requires a strong undergraduate degree (2:1 minimum) or postgraduate qualification in biology, chemistry, environmental science, environmental management, environmental geoscience, environmental engineering, geology, ecology, agricultural sciences or another similar subject.
It’s also advisable to gain relevant work experience through short-term placements, internships or local volunteering projects.
Training & progression
While most employers provide structured on-the-job training and formal in-house development sessions, gaining professional credentials, such as chartered status offered by the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM), is essential for building a long and successful career as an environmental consultant.
Career progression is dependent on the type and size of your employer and how you fit into the organisational hierarchy. Typically though, you’ll start as a junior consultant, before becoming an associate consultant, senior consultant, and then finally a principal consultant.
As you move up the ranks, you’ll have more managerial responsibilities and will most likely take a step back from hands-on field work and the technical audit side of things.
Freelance work is also a viable alternative for environmental consultants with substantial experience and expertise.