Environmental Consultant

Job Description:

Environmental planners advise developers and industry on the social and environmental impact of proposed new projects.

Job Category:
Environmental Industry

What you will do:

You’ll normally work for an environmental consultancy firm. Clients will get you to give advice on the environmental and/or social impact of new projects, such as a new housing development, a new power station, or a new road. You may also investigate existing developments to monitor ongoing environmental and social impact.

Day-to-day duties would include the following:

  • Surveying areas for levels of pollution or contamination
  • Conducting wildlife studies to see what animals live in the area and how they might be affected by human activity
  • Calculating flood risk
  • Assessing whether new developments adequately service (or are adequately serviced by) nearby human sites (e.g. Would a new housing estate have sufficient access to health services? Would a new road have enough capacity for the local population? etc.)
  • Assessing whether new developments might disturb (or be disturbed by) nearby human sites (e.g. Would a new out-of-town shopping centre unbalance the local economy? Would a nearby factory create too much noise pollution for a new park? etc.)
  • Making sure organisations are following environmental standards and laws
  • Managing clean-up operations after environmental accidents or spillages
  • Researching and analysing data
  • Working with companies to reduce their emissions and limit the level of harmful substances in what they produce (either deliberately or as waste)
  • Advising industry on recycling and waste disposal
  • Writing reports and sharing findings with colleagues, clients, and regulators


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of geography
  • maths knowledge
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • analytical thinking skills
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • organisational skills
  • excellent written communication skills
  • the ability to use your judgement and make decisions (leadership skills)
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become an Environmental Consultant, you will need to focus on science and environmental-related subjects to build a strong foundation in the field. Environmental Consultants work on various projects related to environmental protection, sustainability, and regulatory compliance. Here are the recommended subjects and considerations:

  1. Science: High grades in science subjects, particularly Biology and Chemistry, are essential. Environmental science often involves understanding natural processes, ecosystems, and the impact of human activities on the environment.
  2. Mathematics: A good understanding of mathematics is important for data analysis, calculations, and statistical work in environmental consulting.
  3. Geography: Geography provides knowledge about physical landscapes, ecosystems, climate, and environmental processes, which are directly relevant to the field.
  4. Environmental Studies: Some schools offer Environmental Studies or similar courses. These can provide a solid introduction to environmental concepts and issues.
  5. ICT (Information and Communication Technology): Proficiency in using digital tools and software is valuable for data analysis, modeling, and report preparation.
  6. English: Strong communication skills, both written and verbal, are important for writing reports, communicating with clients, and presenting findings.
  7. Design and Technology (if available): Courses in design and technology can help you understand environmental technologies, sustainable design, and engineering concepts.
  8. Business Studies (optional): Environmental Consultants often work with businesses to help them comply with environmental regulations. Understanding basic business principles can be beneficial.

Post School

You would typically need a relevant honours degree to become an environmental planner. Degree subjects that focus on environmental or social issues would be useful:

  • Environmental science
  • Environmental management
  • Ecology
  • Wildlife management
  • Geology
  • Geography
  • Social sciences
  • Urban planning

You’ll usually need a driving licence, as you may be visiting and working on multiple sites every day.

Some employers might ask for a postgraduate qualification in a specialist environmental area.


Working Hours and Environment:

You’ll normally work 9–5, Monday to Friday, but you may have to work longer days if you’re finishing off a report or need to survey wildlife that is most active in the early morning or late evening. You may sometimes have to work at the weekend to fit in with the needs of your client.

You’ll usually be based in an office, but will also visit clients and spend time outdoors.

Career Path & Progression:

Environmental planners might start out doing voluntary work with a local conservation group to develop an understanding of real-world ecology. Progressing to university study or a full-time job in conservation might be a good basis to move into an environmental planner or consultancy role.

You could alternatively take a more sociology-focused route, perhaps volunteering or working in local government and studying urban planning at university.

You could develop expertise and specialise in the type of environmental or social issues that you advise on, becoming a consultant ornithologist (a bird expert), herpetologist (a reptile and amphibian expert), or hydrologist (an expert on water systems), for example.