Sunday 23rd October 2016                 Change text size:

Career opportunities in the environmental industry

clean energy investment rise - Don Graham via Flickr

Environmental work is a rapidly growing field, as every corner of our working world recognises the need for improved sustainability and greener working practises. At the same time, there are more opportunities than ever for those who want to go out into the natural world to study it, especially with a view to protecting it from destruction. In addition, as traditional professions such as mining become increasingly obsolete, largely due to environmental concerns, they are often replaced by new professions based around sustainability and conserving our resources.

A world of choice

The environmental industry covers a hugely wide range of job roles. One aspect for instance is the green or renewable energy sector. This in itself encompasses research science, engineering, management, computer programming and administration among other roles. Consulting positions, helping existing companies to manage their resources in a more environmentally friendly way, are also important.

Gaining qualifications

The first step in pursuing an environmental industry career should be to get the necessary qualifications via a university degree course. Again, the type of course depends on what sort of job role you are seeking. Physics, engineering, computer science, geology or almost any kind of practical degree can set you up to work in an area of the environmental industry. The course you take needn’t be ‘green’ in itself for it to train you to work in a green capacity.

As well as choosing the right course, make sure that you choose the right university for your needs. A recent claim that university league tables are elitist and biased highlights the fact that those institutions with the highest ranking may not necessarily provide the best all-round educational experience. Especially for mature students, disabled students and even those from state schools, league tables do not always reflect the quality of the teaching and the overall inclusiveness of the university culture. Lower ranking universities may turn out fewer academic high fliers, but may still provide excellent courses that are enormously beneficial to a wider range of students.

Entering the workplace

You may want to follow your degree with a more specialist vocational course, or a Master’s. Alternatively, you may be ready to go straight into the workplace. Local government often has vacancies in environmental policy, planning and management, or you could do voluntary work for an environmental charity in order to gain experience. If you are going into a branch of environmental science, you may find a starting role with a large company or academic institution. They may even be able to sponsor you as you study to gain further qualifications.

At some point you may also decide you want to set up on your own as a freelance environmental consultant. This has many advantages, but you will be in a better position to grasp them if you’ve worked for an established business or institution for some time first. There are also advantages to be gained from moving around, trying out different job roles and developing new skills, before settling into your true career.

Whatever specialism you choose, the environmental industry is extremely rewarding to work in. Not only can it provide personal job satisfaction, but you’ll also know that you’re doing your bit to save the planet at the same time.


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