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Environmental careers

Environment

The environmental sector on a UK and global basis is extremely diverse.  It is estimated there are 230,000 businesses and 1.3 million employees in the environmental sector in the UK (Lantra 2014).  

Growing legislation has led to greater opportunities in areas such as pollution control, recycling and carbon management but companies across all sectors are employing environmentalists or using consultancies for public relations or corporate social responsibility. 

Some large organisations even produce environmental or sustainability audits in the same way as financial reports.

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Explore the sector

The United Nations Environment Programme takes a broad industry perspective in it's definition of 'green' or environmental jobs, describing them as:

 

work in agricultural, manufacturing, research and development (R&D), administrative and service activities that contribute substantially to preserving or restoring environmental quality.

Specifically, but not exclusively, this includes jobs that help to protect ecosystems and biodiversity; reduce energy, materials and water consumption through high-efficiency systems; de-carbonise the economy; and minimise or altogether avoid generation of all forms of waste and pollution.

 

 

 

 

 

Prospects produces a useful overview of the environmental sector in the UK, with a section on key issues, highlighting:

  • skills shortages in agronomy, horticulture, landscape architecture and land-based engineering
  • demand for ecologists with field identifiation skills
  • increases in renewable energy, contaminated land, flood risk management and energy management jobs

As you start your research, it will become clear that the environmental sector has a breadth and diversity of roles. For example"

 

Narrow down your options

Conservation and energy

Primarily concerned with preserving and protecting the natural environment, this is a competitive field and likely to require relevant voluntary experience.

To investigate the current issues in conservation and ecology, visit the following websites:

Careers in this sub-sector include:

Corporate social responsibility & sustainability

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a growing area for businesses, both large and small, with many choosing to focus on sustainability.

To find out more about the current issues and considerations in corporate sustainability, visit the following links:

  • Trucost – an organisation that uses data to identify environmental risk and opportunity across company operations, supply chain and investment portfolios
  • SustainAbility – a think tank and advisory firm encouraging sustainability
  • Sustainability Exchange - download the EAUC Sustainability Careers Guide and watch the webinars
  • Scientists for Global Responsibility – independent UK-based promoter of science, design and technology to achieve sustainability

Careers in this sub-sector include:

 

Environmental management and assessment

Environmental management is concerned with the interaction of impact of human societies on the environment.

Environmental managers are responsible for overseeing the environmental performance of private, public and voluntary sector organisations. This has a significant overlap with CSR, where the focus is sustainability.

To investigate further, visit the following websites:

Careers in this sub-sector include:

Recycling and waste management

The Energy and Utilities Skills Group described waste management as 'one of the most exciting, quickly evolving industries in the UK.

New developments and discoveries are being made all the time to help turn waste into valuable resources such as power and raw materials'.

To find out more about current issues in waste management recycling, visit:

Careers in this sub-sector include: waste management officer and recycling officer

Chris McDonald - waste management

Chris McDonald, Principal at Golder Associates, talks about his career in waste management and sustainability and the types of organisations you could work for.

 

 

Water quality and flood risk management

Flood risk management has a high profile, and is the recipient of an increasing amount of funding.

To find out more about the environmental issues impacting the water industry, visit the following websites:

Careers in this sub-sector include:

Renewable energy and energy efficiency

According to a regional and national jobs analysis released by the Renewable Energy Association in 2015, employment in renewable energy increased by 9% in the UK, compared with average growth across all employing sectors of 1.2% during the same period.

The highest performing renewable sector in 2015 was biomass heating.

For more information on the renewables industry in the UK, visit the following websites:

Careers in this sub-sector include:

 

Law and legislation

There is a significant amount of legislation involved in managing the human impact on the environment, and much of the UK's legislation is linked to the EU.

As the UK proceeds with its break from the EU, work in this area is likely to increase. 

There is also a growing legal focus on subjects such as CSR, emissions relating to climate changem and sources of energy, e.g. the controversy around fracking.

To investigate environmental law further, look at these websites:

Careers in this sub-sector include:

Land management and agriculture

The management of land and its agricultural usage has a significant impact on our environment.

It is a rapidly changing industry with new developements such as precision land management, involving technology such as satellite positioning and farm management software.

To find out more about the future of the industry, visit these websites:

Careers in this sub-sector include:

 

Green chemistry

The Royal Society of Chemistry explains: 'green chemistry seeks to reduce the chemical-related impact on human health and the environment by the use of alternative, environmentally-friendly processes and reaction media'.

It isn't a separate branch of chemistry, but an approach that permeates every stage of process development.

To find out more, visit these websites:

Careers in this sub-sector include:

As green chemistry is an approach rather than a branch of chemistry, job titles will not always include a direct reference to green or sustainable chemistry.

By searching for jobs on websites that focus on green issues, you may be more likely to come across dedicated roles. Alternatively, talk to potential employers directly to ask about their green policies.

What employers look for

For many of the roles outlined above, a BSc or BA in one of a range of relevant subjecets, for life or environmental sciences to engineering, law and geography, will be sufficient.

However, in cases where specialist knowledge is required at entry-level, a relevant postgraduate qualification may either be expected or advantageous. View the individual job profiles for further details on qualifications and then search the Prospects postgraduate courses database to find a list of the masters courses available to you.


Many roles within the environmental sector are popular and entry is competitive, so relevant experience that demonstrates your commitment to the issues will be an expectation.

That experience could come from volunteering with a local environmental charity or from a relevant internship or work placement. Many smaller companies will respond well to targeted, speculative applications.

Becoming a student member of a relevant professional institute will allow you to build your network, which could be beneficial when looking for work experience.

Joining and actively participating in a relevant student society will provide evidence of your commitment, and provide opportunities for networking.

 

Employers

Consultancies

ENDS provides environmental and sustainability intelligence to professionals in business, consultancy, government and public bodies.

The website includes a directory of over 1,000 environmental consultancies and suppliers, searchable by specialism, e.g. nature conservation, environmental risk assessment, landscape management, etc.

Not-for-profit organisations

EnvironmentJob.co.uk produces a directory of over 600 environment organisations, searchable by sector and location.

Friends of the Earth also provides a useful list of charities and campaigners it works with.

Government organisations

There are a wide range of environment-related Government departments and agencies, including:

For a full list of Government departments, agencies and public bodies, visit Gov.UK.

Large companies

Large companies employing environmental specialists range from energy and utilities companies to large financial corporatations focusing on CSR.

The roles will vary depending on the focus of the employer and their environmental priorities.

 

What's on offer at Nottingham

Vacancy sources

This is just a small selection of the numerous job vacancy websites available. To identify other agencies, use the Recruitment and Employment Confederation's Find an Agency tool, searchable under a number of criteria, including sector and region.

General environmental job sites

Green Choices

EnvironmentJob.co.uk

Specialist job sites

Conservation Jobs

Acre

ENDS

Lets Recycle

CIWEM Jobs

Green Energy Jobs

Law and Legal

Agriculture and Farming Jobs

New Scientist

 

 

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