How Do I Begin a Career in Environmental Management?

Learn about a career in environmental management. Read on for details about education requirements, certifications, salary and job growth to see if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Environmental & Social Sustainability degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Environmental Manager?

Environmental managers oversee projects related to the protection and conservation of natural ecosystems and human health. They may conduct studies in both the field and the laboratory in order to analyze a wide range of environment-related factors, such as climate change and chemical pollution. Based on their findings, they may prepare reports, give public presentations and/or consult with businesses, manufacturers and government agencies on strategies to minimize the impact of human activity on nature and natural resources.

The following chart is an overview of the basics of this career.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Environmental science, engineering
Key Skills Management skills, analytical abilities, oral and written communication
Licensure Required Certification recommended
Job Growth (2014-2024) 11%*
Median Salary (2015) $67,460*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Do in a Career In Environmental Management?

Environmental management is a field focused on the preservation, conservation and regulation of the environment. In this field, you may work to keep companies from damaging the environment, create new products that help stop environmental damage or manage projects that impact the environment in a positive way. Careers in environmental management may be found in the fields of chemistry, transportation, logistics and engineering. Employers may include private businesses, government agencies and nonprofit organizations.

As an environmental manager, you serve as an expert in the management of environmental projects. Projects you may work on include the construction of buildings and the introduction of new energy sources. You might monitor a project to ensure that companies, organizations and individuals meet federal, state and local environmental regulations by testing equipment or performing inspections. You may also be asked to make suggestions to add more environmentally friendly aspects to a project or assess risks of current projects.

Using your environmental knowledge and expertise, you may help discover ways to prevent further environmental damage, clean up protected areas and preserve natural resources. You may work on improving air quality, cleaning up water sources or finding ways to protect endangered species. Many managers supervise a team of workers, so oral and written communication skills are crucial.

What Education or Training Do I Need?

To work as an environmental manager, a bachelor's degree in an environmental or engineering field may be required. Typically, you need experience in environmental regulation and with environmental projects. Computer experience with database programs, spreadsheets and word processing software for technical reports is also usually required.

Certification may be helpful in proving your knowledge and skills. The National Registry of Environmental Professionals (NREP) offers several certifications that are applicable to many different careers in environmental management (www.nrep.org). The NREP offers the following certifications and designations:

  • Associate Environmental Professional
  • Certified Environmental Auditor
  • Registered Environmental Property Assessor
  • Certified Environmental Systems Manager

The Institute of Professional Environmental Practice (IPEP) offers two certification options for environmental management professionals (www.ipep.org). The Environmental Professional Intern (EPI) designation is for beginner professionals wishing to earn the Qualified Environmental Professional (QEP) designation. The EPI provides certification of your general knowledge in the field of environmental science. The QEP allows you to prove your abilities to solve environmental problems and professional abilities within the field.

What Is the Job Outlook For These Careers?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the greatest number of job opportunities for environmental scientists are in the fields of management and scientific and technical consulting. As of 2015, the average salary for professionals in these fields was $77,000. Environmental scientists who work for the federal government earned an average of $99,770 while those who work for state government took home an average of $62,130. California, Texas and Florida have the highest number of environmental scientists and specialists employed in different fields.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you want to focus your career on environmental conservation, you might be interested in a job as a forester. Foresters oversee protection projects like fire prevention campaigns and regeneration efforts, as well as negotiations regarding timber procurement for human use. To become a forester, you need at least a bachelor's degree. Another related career possibility is a position as an environmental engineer. In this job, you would use apply the fundamental principles of engineering and the sciences to design solutions to critical environmental challenges. Environmental engineers need at least a bachelor's degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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