What Is an Environmental Consultant? - Career & Salary

Find out more about what it takes to become an environmental consultant. Learn more about this career and the potential salary so you can decide if it is right for you. Schools offering Environmental Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information at a Glance

Environmental consultants assist governmental organizations, businesses, and industries with identifying environmental issues and developing protection programs. Continuing reading to learn more about the requirements for this career.

Required Degree Bachelor's degree; some employers may require a master's degree
Education Field of Study Environmental science, biology, chemistry, geology, other related field
Key Skills Analytical, problem-solving, interpersonal, communication, self-discipline
Certification Optional
Job Growth (2016-2026) 11%* (Environmental Scientists and Specialists, including Health)
Median Salary (2019) $54,118 (Environmental Consultants)**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); **PayScale.com

What Does an Environmental Consultant Do?

Environmental consultants provide expertise and professional advice on matters related to the environment. They provide solutions to environmental problems to help their clients reduce negative impacts on the environment. Environmental consultants may develop waste reduction programs, measure contamination within the workplace, conduct environmental audits, and promote conservation. They may be asked to develop a company's environmental policy and ensure that it complies with all state and federal regulations.

Environmental consultants generally work in a consulting firm with clients from both the public and private sectors. They work on environmental management programs within manufacturing and other industries. Some consultants may be self-employed in their own consulting businesses.

What Are the Education Requirements?

A minimum of a bachelor's degree is required to become an environmental consultant, but some employers may require a master's degree. Students could major in environmental science, chemistry, geology, biology, or another field related to the environment.

Undergraduate programs in environmental science generally include general courses in biology, organic chemistry, biodiversity, ecosystems, and environmental change. Students may have opportunities to take advanced courses focusing around a specific area of interest, such as earth science, environmental policy, conservation science, or environmental planning. Depending on the program, students may be able to take part in fieldwork.

What Other Skills Do You Need?

Environmental consultants must have strong analytical skills to report and interpret scientific data. They must possess the problem-solving skills needed to investigate environmental problems and develop appropriate solutions. These consultants need written and speaking communication skills to present their findings to both a technical and nontechnical audience. They must be able to work effectively in a team with other scientists and consultants, but also must be self-directed enough to spend large periods of time working on their own.

Is Certification Available?

Certification is not required, but there are several certification programs available through environmental organizations. Obtaining a certification may help with career advancement because it demonstrates that the environmental consultant meets a certain level of experience in the field. The National Registry of Environmental Professionals offers the Certified Environmental Scientist designation to those who have a bachelor's degree, at least three years of experience, and who pass an exam. Consultants who specialize in indoor environmental issues can complete requirements to become certified as an indoor environmental consultant from the American Council for Accredited Certification. Certification opportunities are also available from the Ecological Society of America and Institute of Hazardous Materials Management.

What Are the Salary and Job Outlook for Environmental Consultants?

The 2019 median salary for an environmental consultant was $54,118, as noted by PayScale.com. Salaries range from $37,929-$82,887, depending on the specific position and the consultant's background. Jobs for all environmental scientists and specialists, including health, are expected to increase by 11% from 2016-2026, according to the BLS. The increased interest in human impact on the environment is expected to result in an increase in demand for environmental consultants, as businesses look for ways to minimize waste, prevent pollution, and develop environmentally friendly programs.

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