Environmental managers - job description

March 12, 2021

The role of the environmental manager is to oversee the environmental performance of an organisation. This is achieved through development, implementation and monitoring of environmental strategies. 

The result is an increase in sustainable development which helps to protect the wider environment. Water and environmental managers are essential for new engineering projects to ensure that no harm is done to the environment through the expansion or redevelopment of the built environment.

What does an environmental manager do?

An environmental manager is similar to a project manager, except the scope of their role focuses entirely on environmental impact. They will oversee the development of schemes for waste management, pollution reduction, pollution prevention, recycling and renewable energy technology. They work to make projects safer and more sustainable, ensuring a reduced environmental impact. 

Without this role in place, building projects would cause more damage to the surrounding areas and there would be no one to think about how to make projects greener or safer. As the world looks for ways to save energy, reduce our impact and live in harmony with our surroundings, the role of the environmental manager is more important than ever before.

Typical responsibilities might include any of these tasks:

  • Ensuring projects adhere to corporate social responsibility (CSR) duties
  • Planning and implementing environmental policies and practices
  • Devising strategies to help projects meet environmental targets
  • Monitor project performance in line with environmental targets
  • Collect, analyse and report on environmental impact data
  • Source materials for projects that are ethical and environmentally-friendly
  • Manage budgets
  • Provide training to other members of staff on the importance of environmental protection
  • Stay up to date with local, national and international developments, targets and initiatives
  • Be a vocal advocate for change
  • Liaise with the environmental agency, local government officials and fellow businesses to help present a united front

Your day-to-day role will depend on the type of organisation you work for. The role of the environmental manager can differ wildly between companies. Those working for a private company such as a steel manufacturer might be more concerned with remaining compliant with environmental guidelines. Those working for a local authority might be kept busy with funding applications and local community education initiatives. 

Where does an environmental manager typically work?

Environmental managers are integral to many different types of organisations. These companies would not be allowed to operate without the oversight and support of environmental managers. Typical employers include:

  • Construction companies
  • Utility companies
  • Government agencies
  • Manufacturing and processing companies
  • Higher education institutions
  • Local government departments

The best place to look for jobs in the environmental management sector is through a specialist recruiter. Roles may be advertised as an environmental manager, graduate environmental manager, environmental advisor, sustainability advisor and more. 

Working with a specialist recruiter will help you to cut through the noise and discover exactly what an employer is looking for. While you might have trained as an environmental manager, there could be additional roles worth exploring that would be well suited to your skillset.

Qualifications and required training

You will need a degree or higher national diploma in an environmental subject to be able to become an environmental manager. This could include engineering, environmental health, geography, biosciences, applied science or environmental management. As there are so many career paths towards this sector, achieving a postgraduate degree specialising in environmental management could help you to stand out from the crowd.

The best source of technical environmental management jobs would be a specialist recruiter. This will allow you to focus on the best jobs that are most relevant to your area of interest. A general job board might be awash with less technical roles or grant writing roles, which is just one small part of environmental protection and management. 

To help make your application stand out, graduates should look for relevant work experience, or make their own experience. Since many environmental management roles require strong leaders, this could be an opportunity to put your skills to work to help your local community. Leading a local environmental cleanup project would show incredible initiative. You could also run a local education programme to help teach residents about recycling or other green projects.

Some organisations will run graduate schemes, but these are less common than they once were. Instead, you should look for relevant work experience and a graduate-level role to get a foot on the career ladder. You could also explore membership to key governing bodies such as the Society for the Environment. They offer training, networking opportunities and advertise jobs from their members. 

Key skills and competencies

  • Vocal passion for environmental issues
  • Knowledge of current legislation and a
  • Excellent communication and persuasion skills
  • Natural leadership skills, with the ability to take the lead on projects
  • The confidence to inspire others to care about the environment
  • A methodical approach to work to ensure compliance
  • Written and verbal communication skills for community outreach and funding application writing
  • Excellent organisation and time management
  • Commercial awareness and aptitude

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