16 Tips to Get Environmental Consulting Jobs

Environmental consulting jobs: When companies make changes in response to environmental regulations, they often rely on environmental consultants to guide their decisions. These professionals provide environmental data for research and development, help raise awareness and collaborate to implement conservation and sustainability practices. If you want to become an environmental consultant, it may be beneficial to learn more about the career paths available in this industry.

In this article, we describe what an environmental consulting job is, where you might work as a consultant, the environmental sciences that qualify for this field, salary expectations and tips to securing an environmental consulting job.

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1. What is an environmental consulting job?

An environmental consulting job consists of completing tasks aimed to reduce the environmental impact of industrial, commercial and governmental practices. An environmental consultant manages environmental issues, such as helping industries reduce emissions. Among several other tasks, these professionals might analyze data and take soil or water samples to measure for contaminants or pollutants.

During a typical workday, environmental consultants might evaluate companies’ environmental policies and conduct assessments of their understanding and compliance with rules and regulations. They also offer advice so companies can make necessary changes to their systems while maintaining adequate production. Other titles used for environmental consultants include:

  • Environmental field consultant

  • Environmental project manager

  • Environmental air quality consultant

  • Environmental audit consultant

  • Environmental professional

  • Environmental analyst

2. Where do environmental consultants work?

Environmental consultants work in many different industries, including government positions. As an environmental consultant, you may work for a consultancy firm and meet with certain clients. Others might serve as contractors or start their own consulting firms. Typically, manufacturing and production companies commission consultants to advise on projects or help mitigate problems. Larger companies may employ their own environmental consultants to provide ongoing guidance. Industries that often employ environmental consultants include:

Environmental consulting jobs

3. What is the average salary of an environmental consultant?

Environmental consultant salaries often vary depending on each professional’s level of experience, education, location and employer, among other factors. Environmental consultants can expect an annual average salary of $67,940 per year

4. What are some different environmental consulting career paths?

The most common career path for environmental consultants is to begin as junior consultants, progress to an associate consultant role and eventually secure a principal consultant position. However, there are several entry-level and advanced career paths for environmental consultants of all experience levels. Here’s a list of different careers available in the environmental consulting industry:

5. Environmental planner

Environmental planners often work for state or local government agencies to ensure that development projects adhere to environmental laws and regulations. They monitor the use of hazardous materials, air quality and traffic noise, among other tasks. Environmental planners also manage consulting agreements and contracts.

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6. Environmental compliance consultant

Environmental compliance consultants assess companies or industries for environmental compliance and perform evaluations of a business’s processes and systems, such as waste and chemical inventories. They conduct field work such as gathering stormwater samples for analysis or performing hazardous waste audits. These professionals work with teams to ensure environmental compliance within project plans.

Environmental consulting jobs

7. Environmental engineer

Environmental engineers may work outside in various weather conditions and travel often as part of their daily tasks. Employers who hire entry-level professionals may also provide additional training under the guidance of a principal consultant. These professionals perform hydrogeologic investigations and oversee field crews. This role might require a bachelor’s degree in chemical or civil engineering, geology or environmental science.

8. Scientific specialist

Organizations such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) may employ scientific specialists to perform site inspections of a natural or man-made disaster. These professionals examine project details and consult with regulatory agencies to attempt to install preventive measures for future issues. Scientific specialists inform FEMA or local emergency response teams to ensure projects meet environmental standards. They also prepare detailed reports and documents that support their findings or advise and translate them into understandable terms.

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9. Disaster recovery consultant

A disaster recovery consultant helps communities recover following a disaster, emergency or crisis. They help local and governmental agencies respond to a situation and provide advice on recovery operations. They also work with teams to monitor historical data and maintain databases. Disaster recovery consultants may provide guidance on existing or emerging policies as they affect a company or industry.

10. Crop management specialist

Crop management specialists deliver science-based information to farmers in order to increase production or reduce crop loss. They offer advice on growing conditions through the evaluation of reports related to soil and water quality. These professionals oversee the use of pesticides or herbicides to ensure environmental compliance and uphold safety standards. They also might provide assistance for research projects or work to identify current production issues.

Environmental consulting jobs

11. Environmental consulting training and certifications

Environmental consultants typically begin their careers by earning a degree in environmental science and then proceed to work in their chosen field, often as geologists, biologists or ecologists. After a period of time, these professionals may pursue consulting work. Environmental consultants usually hold a bachelor’s degree in any of the following disciplines:

Environmental consulting jobs

Another way that professionals can secure environmental consulting positions is by pursuing certifications. While earning a certification isn’t always necessary for securing an environmental consulting role, it can help advance your career and quicken your progress from junior consultant to principal roles or provide supporting credentials for an independent or private firm. Most certifications require work experience—usually two or more years—before applying. Certification boards may require you to renew your certifications annually or every two to five years, depending on the one you pursue. Once qualified to apply for certification, candidates then take and pass written and oral exams.

Some useful certifications for environmental consultants to consider include:

  • OSHA Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER)

  • Certified Environmental Professional (CEP)

  • Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM)

  • Environmental Compliance Certification (EC)

  • Certified Environmental Systems Manager (CESM)

Environmental consulting jobs

To secure a position as an environmental consultant, here are some tips you can follow to ensure your skills and knowledge meet or exceed employer requirements:

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12. Familiarize yourself with various systems

Environmental consultants are often proficient in both geographic information systems (GIS) and computer-aided design (CAD) for analyzing data. These systems enable consultants to measure pollutants or contaminants, study accumulated data and determine mitigation efforts. Consider also updating your computing language knowledge by studying coding languages such as Python or Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) for the implementation of GIS solutions. You can job listings to determine which technical or system skills a particular position requires.

13. Hone data analysis skills

Since environmental consultants often compile data and written reports, excellent data analysis skills are crucial for these professionals to gather data, extract samples and conduct surveys. Consider studying statistics or focused areas such as statistical analysis for data and population sampling.

Environmental consulting jobs

14. Remain flexible

Environmental consultants often work in a combination of labs, offices and in the field. Your work may require travel to local or remote areas throughout the week and on weekends and holidays. Remaining flexible also entails responding to changes in job specifications to accommodate new clients or adhering to shifting regulations.

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15. Improve and hone soft skills

Environmental consultants use a wide range of skills while completing their tasks. From collaborating with diverse teams and clients to conveying critical information in an understandable way, soft skills play an important role in a consultant’s efficacy. As a prospective environmental consultant, consider focusing on developing the following skills:

  • Collaboration: Develop your ability to work with teams, clients, contractors or officials.

  • Observation: Improve your ability to identify issues and develop solutions.

  • Critical thinking: Strengthen your ability to respond to changes in conditions or requirements.

Environmental consulting jobs

16. Consider a master’s degree

Prospective environmental consultants might also consider pursuing a master’s degree in a related field. An advanced degree may provide opportunities for faster advancement or allow you to begin your career as a principal environmental consultant. Consider pursuing the following master’s degrees:

  • Climate change science and policy

  • Environmental science

  • Environmental management

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