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 waste management and recycling.
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
carrying out environmental impact assessments (EIAs) for 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
keeping up to date with relevant legislation and ensuring clients meet all requirements
doing fieldwork, recording information and analysing results using software modelling packages
writing reports and action plans and making recommendations.
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 £55,000 a year.
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 main working hours would be from Monday to Friday, but you would have to work some 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.
You need a good degree in environmental science or a related subject such as geology, geography, chemistry, ecology or agriculture.
Entry requirements are 4-5 Highers including relevant science subjects. You may need passes in Biology and Chemistry.
More employers look for postgraduate qualifications in a specialised environmental subject.
You usually need a full, clean driving licence.
Relevant work experience, including voluntary work, gained during or after your degree can help with getting a job.
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.
able to get on with people from a variety of different backgrounds
able to manage projects.
You should have:
a keen interest in science and in protecting the environment
excellent communication and report writing skills
the ability to deal with complex information and explain it to other people
good business skills and commercial awareness
an understanding of environmental policy and regulations
IT skills including specialist software, such as GIS.
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.
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.
You may 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).
The Science Council provides the quality assurance system for those working in science. They set the standards for professional registration for practising scientists and science technicians across all scientific disciplines. Those scientists who reach the required standards are recognised by the following designations CSci, CSciTeach, RSci and RSciTech.