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Environmental Consultant

Environmental consultants give advice on environmental matters. They work on areas such as the effects of new developments on the environment, the control of pollution and noise, the effects of agriculture or recreation on plants and wildlife, the effect of climate change and the conservation of rare or protected species such as ospreys and bats.

The Work

You could be:

  • looking at the effects of chemicals, waste materials, smoke or noise on the environment in town or country

  • making sure companies obey environmental regulations and have good environmental management systems

  • assessing the environmental impact of proposed major new developments such as industrial plants, roads, electricity pylons and wind farms

  • giving advice on how to dispose of waste materials

  • working with public authorities to improve energy efficiency or to introduce recycling schemes

  • advising on the upgrading of beaches to pass European standards

  • doing fieldwork, recording information and analysing results

  • writing reports and action plans and making recommendations.


  • You would work in an office doing desk research and writing reports.

  • However, you would spend part of your time visiting a variety of sites in town or country.

  • On some of these visits, the conditions could be wet, cold and muddy.

  • You would also be out of the office to meet clients and attend meetings.

  • Your basic working hours would be 9.00am-5.00pm, but you would have to work some evenings and weekends, particularly when you have to meet deadlines.

  • You may also have to spend some time away from home to carry out longer site visits and do field research.

Getting In

  • You need a good degree in environmental science or a related subject such as geology, geography, chemistry or ecology.

  • Entry requirements are 4-5 Highers including relevant science subjects. You may need passes in Chemistry and Biology.

  • More employers are looking for postgraduate qualifications in a specialised environmental subject.

  • You should be fit, as you may need to do fieldwork outside.

  • You usually need a full, clean driving licence.

  • Previous relevant work experience (including voluntary work) after gaining your first degree is usually necessary.

  • Most of the organisations listed below have details of vacancies on their websites. It is not always easy to get your first job in this type of work and you are unlikely to get into it straight after you graduate.

What Does It Take?

You should be:

  • observant and inquisitive

  • accurate, methodical and well organised

  • able to work alone or as part of a team

  • able to get on with people from a variety of different backgrounds.
You should have:
  • a keen interest in science and the environment

  • excellent communication skills

  • the ability to deal with complicated information and explain it to other people

  • good business skills and commercial awareness

  • an understanding of environmental policy and regulations

  • IT skills including spreadsheets and presentation packages.


  • After gaining your initial qualifications, training is mainly on the job.

  • You would attend short courses and training sessions in order to keep up to date with the latest developments.

  • You might study part time for a postgraduate qualification, if you do not already have one.

  • You may also gain membership of one of the professional bodies dealing with environmental issues and go on to achieve the status of Chartered Environmentalist through the Society for the Environment (CEnv).

Getting On

  • There are growing opportunities in this work, as more new laws protect the environment.

  • With experience you may become a manager in a firm of consultants or a specialist in a particular area of work.

  • You might set up your own business as a consultant.

  • You might go on to teach in a college or university.


The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:

  • where you work and what aspect of the environment you specialise in

  • the size of company or organisation you work for

  • the demand for the job.
Starting salaries for qualified environmental consultants tend to be between £22,000 and £25,000 a year. With experience, this can rise to around £35,000 a year. Higher salaries are possible with postgraduate qualifications. Principal consultants can earn up to £50,000 a year.

More Information


The following organisation(s) may be able to provide further information.

Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA)
Tel:  01522 540069
Minicom / Textphone: 

Society for the Environment (SocEnv)
Tel:  0845 337 2951
Minicom / Textphone: 

Forestry Commission
Tel:  0300 067 6156
Minicom / Textphone: 

Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS)
Tel:  01631 559 000
Minicom / Textphone: 
Note:  Part of Scottish Marine Institute

Science Council
Tel:  020 3434 2020
Minicom / Textphone: 
Note:  The Science Council promotes the advancement and dissemination of knowledge of and education in science, technology, mathematics, computing and information technology. It awards the designation of Chartered Scientist (CSci) to those candidates who can meet the high standards required.