What Does an Environmental Consultant Do? With How-To Guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 2, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Those who want to work in environmental services may wonder the answer to, "What does an environmental consultant do?" These professionals require knowledge of local environments and the impact of various human activities on the environment. By knowing more about the duties of environmental consultants, you can determine whether this is the right career for your goals. In this article, we discuss the duties of environmental consultants, provide you with a guide on becoming an environmental consultant, and review career options for those who want to work with the environment.

What does an environmental consultant do?

Understanding the answer to, "What does an environmental consultant do?" can help you decide whether this career path is right for you. These professionals specialize in the analysis of environmental issues, including the collection of raw data. These professionals also provide companies and clients with recommendations for environmental improvements. They conduct regular research to prove or disprove hypotheses, and to determine the impact of particular activities on the environment. Environmental consultants develop knowledge of local environmental laws and legislation. The average national salary of an environmental consultant is $64,672 per year. Here's a list of the most common responsibilities for environmental consultants:

Review policies

Environmental consultants review and analyze national, local, and provincial policies. This helps them provide clients and companies with recommendations. These policies also provide environmental consultants with information about the limitations of projects and the procedures to follow when obstacles arise.

Conduct surveys

These professionals use surveys to collect environmental data. This data provides them with information about companies and surrounding areas they can use to provide recommendations. They collect the information in these surveys through environmental samples and observations of the surrounding environments.

Related: What is Quantitative Analysis?

Provide consultative services

Environmental consultants provide their clients with consultative services depending on the needs of those clients. They typically consult with leaders within the organization to provide them with recommendations for changes. In these discussions, environmental consultants may assess the company's objectives and needs, then offer advice on complying with environmental laws and regulations.

How to become an environmental consultant

Here's a guide for those who want to become environmental consultants:

1. Obtain an education

If you want to work as an environmental consultant, you can first complete your high school diploma or GED. You may also want to get a postsecondary degree in environmental studies to become a more competitive candidate, as most employers in this field value a bachelor's degree or higher qualification. This can provide you with the theoretical information required to work as an environmental consultant. You can also complete a master's degree to obtain additional experience and credibility. Some postsecondary degrees also allow you to complete an internship as part of your program, which can give you more practical experience.

2. Get experience

Obtaining experience as an environmental consultant before working in this field can increase your chances of being hired. Some environmental consultants obtain experience through internships, while others work in entry-level environmental positions to gain knowledge of the industry. For example, some professionals work as conservation officers or environmental technicians before applying for positions as environmental consultants.

3. Develop skills

Here's a list of skills that you can benefit from if you want to pursue a career as an environmental consultant:

Communication skills

Environmental consultants benefit from having strong communication skills because they interact with others daily. This also includes written communication skills because they answer emails and develop reports regularly. These professionals verbally communicate complex environmental terms to their clients and to other professionals.

Related: 7 Ways to Communicate Effectively (Plus Benefits and Tips)

Presentation skills

These professionals also benefit from having strong presentation skills because they report their findings to clients and employers. Environmental consultants organize the data they obtain into presentations that include visual cues and information, like graphs and charts. Having strong presentation skills helps environmental consultants deliver clear messages to companies and clients.

Project management

Environmental consultants benefit from having project management skills because they typically act as leaders in their positions. They lead consultative analyses and review data that informs their analyses, which requires detailed planning and clarity in the roles of all professionals. Environmental consultants also use project management skills to define the boundaries of projects.

Computer literacy

Environmental consultants may want to develop their computer skills because they navigate computer systems when developing models and creating presentations. Having IT skills can help prevent technological issues when managing large sets of data. These skills may also provide more versatility in career opportunities because hiring organizations may prefer a candidate who has IT skills.

Career options

Those who want to work as environmental consultants may also be interested in other careers relating to the environment. Here's a list of career options for those interested in environmental consulting:

1. Environmental engineer

National average salary: $74,263 per year

Primary duties: Environmental engineers specialize in the planning and design of industrial processes in industries. These professionals use concepts like plant sciences, biology, and chemistry to develop solutions for complex issues. They improve the recycling processes of companies, along with their waste disposal and overall public health.

2. Environmental specialist

National average salary: $19.84 per hour

Primary duties: Environmental specialists contribute to environmental studies, along with assessments and strategies. These professionals plan research and report on environmental issues. They also collect data from the air, soil, water, or food that helps companies make decisions about their operations. When necessary, environmental specialists develop plans for research proposals and write reports about their findings. These professionals provide their participants with surveys and analyze data samples to provide them with information about human activities in the surrounding environment.

3. Conservation specialist

National average salary: $60,931 per year

Primary duties: Conservation specialists oversee natural environments and communicate with other environmental professionals to determine the best ways to conserve environments. These professionals establish long-term conservation efforts for these environments and attempt to synthesize information during environmental studies. They also prepare reports following the completion of their studies. These reports contribute to environmental legislation and government decision-making. Conservation specialists can also work as soil or water conservationists, which are professionals who attempt to preserve soil and water within specific regions.

4. Hydrologist

National average salary: $64,588 per year

Primary duties: Hydrologists monitor regional water supplies and usages. These professionals also contribute to resource development and planning by providing companies with forecasts regarding water usages and overall precipitation levels. They also assess environmental issues like precipitation pathways, along with rainfall and runoff relationships and how precipitation impacts soils and landscapes. Hydrologists research physical, chemical, and biological components of water and conduct studies on seismic activity. These professionals consider the impact of human activity on the environment, along with the impact of disturbances on water quantity, water quality, and ecology.

5. Urban planner

National average salary: $112,778 per year

Primary duties: Urban planners develop plans and provide companies with recommendations regarding policies for land use. These professionals also develop policies and plans for urban and rural areas, along with remote regions. They work in all levels of government, along with land development and engineering. Urban planners review statistics about populations, economic information, and physical components or properties of communities. They also collaborate with community residents, politicians, scientists, and lawyers. These professionals develop plans with the goal of managing or protecting land.

6. Biochemist

National average salary: $79,630 per year

Primary duties: Biochemists review the chemical processes of cells within organisms. They also assess cell growth, analyze the division of cells, and review the biology of entire organisms. These professionals conduct chemical analyses through sophisticated equipment and processes. Biochemists also use their research to provide insight into industries like agriculture, medicine, and energy.

Read more: How Much Does a Biochemist Make? (With Job Duties)

7. Atmospheric scientist

National average salary: $70,788 per year

Primary duties: Atmospheric scientists assess regional temperature, along with atmospheric pressure, humidity, and wind speed. These professionals use digital models to determine future weather conditions and to provide other professionals with potential predictions. They also develop computer systems that help create these models. Atmospheric scientists also review atmospheric reactions to human activity, along with environmental changes. For example, they identify how a volcanic eruption impacts the atmosphere.

8. Geologist

National average salary: $88,592 per year

Primary duties: Geologists investigate the structure and evolution of the Earth, along with its natural resources. These professionals also plan programs that study the exploration or search for natural resource reserves. For example, they identify potential gas, water, and oil reserves. Geologists also survey worksites they consider especially promising or that may contain reserves of natural resources. When required, they collect samples and data from their test sites. Geologists also interpret collected data from their field.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries and quoted websites at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organization and a candidate's experience, academic background, and location.

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