Environmental manager: job description

Last updated: 11 Jul 2023, 08:08

The focus of many environmental managers’ jobs is to work towards zero carbon emissions targets.

An environmental manager

What does an environmental manager do? Graduate salaries | Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Environmental managers (also known as environmental consultants and sustainability managers) develop and then measure the success of schemes for waste management, renewable energy, recycling, and pollution reduction and prevention. Many of these projects relate to government targets to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.

Typical duties include:

  • devising and implementing environmental frameworks, policies and practices.
  • devising strategies to meet targets and to encourage best practice.
  • selecting the best tools and systems to monitor performance.
  • ensuring compliance with environmental legislation and standards.
  • assessing, analysing and collating environmental performance data and reporting information to internal staff, clients and regulatory bodies.
  • assisting with investigations into environmental crimes such as fly tipping.
  • managing audits of environmental practices.
  • managing environmental strategy budgets.
  • acting as a champion for environmental issues within an organisation.
  • developing environmental training for staff at all levels.
  • keeping up to date with relevant changes in environmental legislation and initiatives including international legislation.
  • producing educational or information resources for staff, clients or the general public.
  • liaising with regulatory bodies such as the Environment Agency.

The focus of the role will differ depending on the type of organisation you work for. For example:

  • Environmental managers working for construction companies typically focus on construction projects, ensuring that environmental legislation and best practices are complied with and that targets are achieved.
  • If you are at a local authority, you might be rolling out sustainability or recycling initiatives, engaging with charities and community groups, or assisting investigations into environmental crimes.
  • In a manufacturing company, as environmental manager you could be responsible for liaising between the organisation and external regulators to make sure legal obligations are being met. The role could also involve exploring risks that the organisation’s activities could cause and looking for ways to address these.

Graduate salaries

Starting salaries for environmental managers are around £27,000, according to jobs comparison site Glassdoor. Earnings will rise with experience – the average salary is around £39,000 – and can also be boosted by joining professional bodies such as the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA).

Typical employers of environmental managers

  • Utilities companies
  • Educational institutions
  • IT firms
  • Engineering firms
  • Construction companies
  • Government agencies
  • Local authorities
  • Manufacturers
  • Mining and natural resources companies.

With experience, you could work for yourself as a freelance environmental consultant or contractor.

Vacancies are advertised via the IEMA and the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM). You’ll also find them on targetjobs and specialist jobs boards.

Qualifications and training required

To become an environmental manager, you usually need a degree or higher national diploma (HND) in an environment-related subject – which could include engineering, environmental health, environmental sciences/management, biosciences, applied science, physics or geography. A relevant postgraduate qualification can be advantageous, as can experience of initiating and managing projects.

Relevant voluntary or paid experience is essential to getting into this sector. While it’s predicted that numbers of environmental management jobs will increase thanks to the need for organisations to meet targets, the role calls for expertise in a wide range of areas. If your degree doesn’t include a placement year, build experience through voluntary work and university activities. You could also consider joining professional organisations as a student member: this will help you make connections, find work experience and access training.

Key skills for environmental managers

Successful environmental managers will demonstrate:

  • a genuine interest in and understanding of environmental issues, relevant legislation
  • and renewable energy sources
  • excellent communication and influencing skills
  • the ability to take the lead on projects
  • the ability to inspire others
  • attention to detail and a methodical approach to work
  • good organisation and time management
  • commercial awareness: the ability to work within commercial constraints
  • confidence.

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