Environmental consultants play an essential role in our modern economy by protecting natural resources for future generations. Their expert knowledge and research can help business and government decision-makers understand and reduce the negative impact of growth.
If you’d like to join the ranks of this important profession, your next question is probably “what does an environmental consultant do exactly?” Let’s talk about an average day on the job. We’ll also cover what education they have, where they work, how much they make, and why they’re in demand now more than ever.
What does an environmental consultant do?
The goal of an environmental consultant is to help others make informed decisions about policies or projects that will impact the environment. In short, they gather information, analyze it, and provide their recommendations.
Businesses typically hire an environmental consultant to assess land for pollution or contamination prior to purchase, ensure they’re in compliance with environmental regulations, oversee a remediation (clean-up) project, or develop green policies.
Since the title environmental consultant could be defined differently depending on the employer or industry, let’s take a look at the two primary roles you might explore. Keep in mind that depending on the job, some of these may overlap, and often do.
- Conduct field surveys and collect data about pollution or contamination on a site
- Interpret data from fieldwork and surveys to assess pollution levels and suitability for use
- Develop conceptual models using data from field surveys for future planning
- Prepare reports for companies, environmental agencies, and government bodies to assist decision making on legislation or industry projects
Environmental Policy Analyst
- Research environmental trends, policies, and laws
- Consult with businesses, governments, and special interest groups
- Coordinate public reviews and participate in public hearings on major projects
- Make recommendations that balance environmental conservation with social and economic needs
- Translate environmental regulations for business clients to understand
- Develop regulations and guidelines for the implementation of environmental laws and policies
A career in environmental consulting can take you in a lot of different directions. Some consultants may move into lobbying for environmental laws or focus on remediation efforts rather than assessments and planning.
Why are environmental consultants so important right now?
There are a few overlapping trends that make environmental consultants a hot commodity in today’s economy.
According to Environmental Leader, the environmental consulting industry “has benefitted from the rising awareness of environmental concerns and the effects of sustainable environmental planning. Governments across the globe are continuously investing in environmental regulations and policies to be implemented by businesses, industries, and even households.”
As a result, the market is growing steadily. According to new market research, the environmental consulting industry is estimated to reach $43.8 billion by 2025, up from $29.7 billion in 2016.
That means a lot of jobs. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of environmental consultants is projected to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. BLS attributed the growth to “heightened public interest in the hazards facing the environment, as well as increasing demands placed on the environment by population growth.”
What education do you need to be an environmental consultant?
A bachelor’s degree is a must for aspiring environmental consultants regardless of their specialty.
If you’d like to be more hands-on, conducting field studies and analyzing scientific data, choose a degree in biology, geology, chemistry, or environmental science. However, don’t overlook the importance of communication and management skills. You’ll need to navigate both worlds. A practical internship is also very appealing to employers.
For those who are more interested in the policy side of the industry, the Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Policy and Management from Everglades University is an excellent choice. Our curriculum includes a solid foundation in business practices paired with in-depth coursework on environmental policy issues from renewable energy to environmental justice. Students gain broad-based knowledge of several emerging fields of study, including global environmental change, planning, and sustainability. Other benefits of our program include:
- Access to faculty with expertise in related areas such as Renewable Energy, Land & Energy, Surveying, Crisis & Disaster, and Construction
- The option of transferring up to 21 credits of approved prior learning
- An online format for busy professionals
Where do environmental consultants work?
Most environmental consultants are employed by consultancy firms, which are hired by the government and commercial organizations. They often work with companies in the manufacturing and production sector, where environmental management is critical to their operations. You may want to check out the job boards of the big players in the industry:
- CH2M HILL
- Arcadis N.V.
- Bechtel Corporation
- John wood group PLC
- Golder Associates Ltd.
- ERM Group, Inc.
- Tetra Tech, Inc.
- ANTEA GROUP
- Santec, Inc.
- Ramboll Group
- SLR International
In some cases, smaller firms concentrate their work in particular industries. Others specialize in certain services, such as environmental impact assessment or auditing.
Although your title may not be “environmental consultant,” government agencies perform similar work. These employees are involved in environmental monitoring, sampling, remediation projects, and environmental regulations and standards. Sometimes there are overlapping opportunities between the regulatory agency, client, and consulting firm.
How much can I make as an environmental consultant?
In addition to having great job prospects, environment consultants earn a great salary. Although the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) uses the term “environmental scientists and specialists,” it’s a match for what environmental consultants do. Individuals in this role made a median salary of $71,130 per year in 2018. The highest paid environmental consultants work for the federal government.
Hopefully, we’ve answered your question “what does an environmental consultant do?” and opened your mind to the many possibilities within this growing industry. If you’d like to learn how to be an environmental consultant, or get information about our bachelor’s degree in Environmental Policy and Management, we welcome you to contact us today.