Being a graduate environmental consultant allows you to mould your potential as a junior consultant and learn your trade from the ground up.
As an environmental consultant, your aim is to use analytical data and observational skills to propose how your clients can minimise environmental damage.
You’ll be working independently and collaboratively with a team to work towards an end goal, finding workable environmental solutions for clients projects, sites, developments and buildings.
Being a graduate environmental consultant, you will find yourself splitting your time between offices, travelling to sites to conduct field studies and visiting clients. The work may encompass a range of environmental issues - from assisting with assessing noise and air quality and implementing waste strategy development, to advising on the design of a building.
The majority of your job will be dedicated to conducting field studies. Here you will learn important skills such as how to evaluate current policy management systems, processing audits and field sampling. Field work for environmental consultants can be early, long and often unpredictable but ultimately produces the best data for your work.
From your fieldwork, you will be producing analytical data driven reports and presentations, using these to illustrate and assess the potential risks posed to the environment and relate it back to clients.
- Conduct field analytical and observational studies: Before you begin advising clients on what they need to do to improve their sites, companies or projects to be more environmentally friendly, you need to conduct field studies to compile data on the sites themselves.
- Write and file reports: You will need to compile your findings into comprehensive and digestible written reports for your clients (in layman’s terms) and your superiors.
- Compile analytical data: This is the key to finding out what damage to the environment has been done, if any and how exactly it can be fixed. You will use your findings to help advise clients on their environmental issues.
- Report findings to superiors and clients: Utilise your communication skills to relate scientific data into layman's terms. Relying on your communication and presentation skills to convey your ideas and express what you’d like to get done, project-wise, to clients is key.
- An analytical mind
- Good technical skills
- Keen observational field skills
- Good written skills
- Project management
- Good communication skills
- Good sales skills
- Confident presentation skills
- Excellent organisational skills
In order to break into the environmental consultant game as a graduate, you’ll need a strong postgraduate degree in a science field. A BSc in environmental science, geology or geography is beneficial, as is an MSc in engineering biology or environmental consultancy.
Your hours will typically follow a 9-5, Monday - Friday structure. It may be subject to change if you are completing a field survey or reaching the end of a tight project deadline.
The salary for a graduate environmental consultant is around £19,000 to £22,000 per annum.
Your next steps
Whilst environmental consultancy is a competitive field, career progression options are vast.
In a large consultancy, you may find yourself moving up the environmental consultant ranks internally. In a smaller consultancy with greater restrictions placed on the amount of roles available, you may have to move elsewhere to find your next job.
If you are interested in working abroad, there are plenty of options available for you to do so within the sector.
Your next roles may include:
Industry advice for aspiring graduate environmental consultants
- Get a driving licence: As an environmental consultant you will be required to travel frequently, sometimes long distance. Many roles come with a company car.
- Familiarise yourself with the Microsoft Office suite: You will be using software such as Word and Excel almost daily.
- Gain accreditations and awards: Becoming a member of industry associations such as the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIEWM) is beneficial for a successful career. They offer continued learning and development opportunities and networking events. These will help you keep abreast of industry trends and expand your skill-set as an environmental consultant.
- Embrace learning opportunities: As a graduate you can accelerate your development by taking advantage of any relevant training opportunities your company or industry associations offer.
- Get work experience: If you’re yet to secure employment, there are various options available for you in the form of graduate placements, internships and volunteering positions. These will not only give you valuable experience but you may find yourself hired at the end of your placement. There are even opportunities for you to study and work abroad.
Check out the following organisations for information on graduate and voluntary placements:
If you’re still looking for placements, check if your local council or nearest National Trust place needs a helping hand.