How to Become an Environmental Consultant


To become an environmental consultant, you career experience, the appropriate education for your niche, and the right set of skills, knowledge and competencies.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to succeed in this field. We've also included helpful information for an environmental consultant career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Required to Become an Environmental Consultant

Earning a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental science, environmental studies, geology, environmental engineering, or a closely related field is typically the minimum educational requirement for working in this field. Coursework in communications, business and environmental management can also be very helpful in providing prospective environmental consultants with relevant skills, knowledge and competencies.


A master’s degree in one of the above-mentioned fields is typically not necessary for getting an entry-level job with an environmental consulting firm, although employers will often give preference to candidates who have earned a graduate degree.





More About This Career: General Job Description

Environmental consultants provide public and private sector clients with advice on environmental issues such as soil contamination, water pollution, air quality, environmental impact assessments, environmental audits, waste management and the development of environmental policies.



Typical Job Duties

• Identify any site contamination by conducting site assessments

• Identify potential sources of contamination that can have adverse impacts on the immediate and wider environment

• Confer with clients, inspectors and sub-contractors

• Use software-modeling packages to determine whether contamination exists in accordance with current legislation

• Prepare detailed scientific reports that can be easily understood by the general public

• Maintain current knowledge of pertinent legislation and how it can potentially impact clients



Who Employs Them?

An environmental consultant can work alone as an entrepreneur, with an environmental consulting firm or be hired by a corporation or government agency either as a full-time employee, part-time employee or as a contractor.



Environmental Consulting Firms

There are different types environmental consultancy services in North America, both large and small. Some firms offer a broad base of services across different industries, while others focus their work in certain areas such as environmental impact assessment or audit, across all industries.


The client bases of environmental consulting firms include private companies representing all sectors of industry, as well as public clients representing all levels of government. Other employers of environmental consultants include non-governmental and wildlife organizations, as well as conservation groups.





Career Progression

The career of an environmental consultant is one that progresses with an increase in experience. Typically, the first two years of being an environmental consultant are spent gaining site-based experience by performing such duties as:


• Intrusive ground investigation

• Performing ecological surveys

• Ground and surface water sampling

• Data assessment

• Desk-based research

• Liaison with sub-contractors, clients and regulators

• Report preparation and writing


As more experience is gained, environmental consultants may be asked to manage small projects in order to take on more responsibility. Once a consultant has gained around 5 years worth of experience in roles of increasing responsibility, they typically advance to senior-level consultant.


Being a senior-level consultant usually involves managing other staff, site investigations, contracts and the allocation of project resources. Depending on the size of the firm, they may also be involved in business development at this point, with responsibility for marketing the business to new clients and developing relationships with existing clients, as well as identifying and submitting tenders for new work.



Skills Needed to Be Successful

To be effective in a career as an environmental consultant, you need to have a certain set of skills, knowledge and competencies, including:


• Able to complete projects on time, and within budget

• Must have excellent research skills

• Must be able to take complex information and present it in a well-written, easily understandable format for clients

• Must be able to prepare spreadsheets and be able to present graphs and charts to clients

• Must have excellent data analysis skills

• Must be knowledgeable in the latest environmental laws and regulations in order to ensure clients are compliant

• Hard skills that pertain to your area of interest, such as math, science, design, engineering, environmental economics, and others


Success Tip: Skills such as those in math, engineering and science ought to be honed while in school, as they are more difficult to master outside of a school environment



Current Job Opportunities

Although job opportunities in this field are rarely posted online, from time to time they will be. Have a look below to see if there’s anything listed in your area.




Average Salary Level

The salary level of environmental consultants can vary greatly depending on many factors, including their level of experience, their level of education, their niche of expertise, where they work and many others.


It is difficult to determine the salary level of environmental consultants, as there is no reliable data available for this specific career. We can however, get a good idea of what their salary level is by examining the salary level of a closely related career, Environmental Engineer.


Environmental Consultant Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in the Environmental Engineers occupational group, which includes environmental consultant, earn a median salary of $78,740 per year.


Salary - Canada: According to ECO Canada, a senior level environmental engineer in Canada makes an average salary of $75,000 per year.



Similar Careers in Our Database

Listed below are jobs that are similar in nature to 'environmental consultant', as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Agricultural Consultant

Environmental Auditor

Environmental Education Officer

Environmental Manager

Environmental Policy Officer




Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as an environmental consultant.


Start My Career:5 Signs you should work in environmental consulting.” Jennifer Schultz (April 1, 2015). ECO Canada website. Retrieved November 14, 2019.

Job Profile:Environmental Consultant.” AGCAS editors (June, 2018). Prospects website. Retrieved November 14, 2019.

Resources:What is an Environmental Consultant?” Nicole T.K. Moore (May 8, 2019). Partner Engineering & Science website. Retrieved November 14, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming an Environmental Consultant

Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming an environmental consultant can be found on the following pages:


• Environmental Engineering Scholarships

• Environmental Science Scholarships

• Urban Planning Scholarships


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for working in this field:


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