How Much Do Environmental Consultants Make


Overview of Environmental Consulting

Environmental consulting is a specialized field that focuses on helping businesses analyze, manage, and mitigate their environmental impacts. Both public and private sector organizations hire environmental consultants to advise on best practices and regulations related to environmental concerns. Environmental consultants may also help with environmental impact assessments and provide guidance on environmental compliance issues.

Let’s take a more detailed look at what environmental consulting and the associated salary range entails:

Definition of Environmental Consulting

Environmental consulting is a profession that combines engineering and science in order to solve environmental problems. This can involve the evaluation of soil, water, air, and other sources of pollution, as well as preparing plans for the management of natural resources. Environmental consultants can be employed by federal agencies, engineering firms, private attorneys, non-profits and government organizations to provide expert advice on legal matters related to the environment.

Environmental consulting can also include project assessment services such as permitting applications, due diligence reviews and impact assessments. For example, a consultant may develop plans to control or mitigate the effects of hazardous materials on air or water quality. They could also work with government agencies and local communities on policies and regulations that companies may need to comply with in order to operate legally within an environment.

A variety of methods are utilized by environmental consultants for site evaluations including:

  • Environmental sampling methods like air quality monitoring and soil/water tests;
  • Legal research involving state/federal regulations;
  • Computer modeling;
  • Risk assessments;
  • Social sciences studies;
  • Natural resource surveys;
  • Engineering studies analyzing energy production processes & waste treatment plants;
  • Scientific laboratory analysis & toxicology reviews;
  • GIS mapping techniques and data analysis.

Types of Environmental Consulting

Environmental consulting is the practice of providing environmental analysis and solutions to businesses, government agencies and nongovernmental organizations. Environmental consultants may specialize in assessing a certain kind of environmental impact, such as air or water pollution, or they may have broad training to provide general consulting services. Focusing on one ecologically important area, such as wetland management or aquatic wildlife protection, can build up a consultant’s expertise and help create more successful strategies for clients.

Types of Environmental Consulting
One type of environmental consulting focuses on providing advice to commercial and industrial companies on ways to improve energy efficiency and reduce their carbon footprints. This often involves analyzing production processes to identify areas where energy can be saved, recommending new technologies that promote sustainability, developing strategies for efficient resource utilization and identifying renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. Other consultants focus on helping local governments create more sustainable plans for urban development.

Other types of specialized environment consulting services include:

  • Air Quality Developer
  • Water Quality Effect Management
  • Hazardous Waste Management
  • Environmental Remediation
  • Environmental Impact Assessments
  • Wetland Delineation/Mitigation Services
  • Natural Resource Conservation Planning

Average Salaries of Environmental Consultants

Environmental consultants are in high demand as the need for sustainability and green initiatives grows. The salary of environmental consultants can vary greatly depending on their experience, qualifications and the location of their job. However, there are some general salary ranges that environmental consultants tend to fall into. Let’s take a deeper look into the average salaries of environmental consultants.

Average Salary by Industry

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for environmental consultants was $73,310 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $39,990, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $132,720. Pay also depends on experience in the field, specialty and size of company.

The highest average salaries for environmental consultants can be found in industries such as:

  • Management consulting services ($81,420);
  • Scientific research and development services ($82,770); and
  • Federal executive branch ($81,200).

Those in local government averaged salaries of $66,790; state government wages ran around $68,220; and in educational services pay was around $72,640 annually.

The outlook for environmental consulting is strong due to increasing public awareness about environmental protection issues. Employment is projected to grow much faster than average at 27 percent over the next decade—additional jobs are expected due to international economic growth as well as laws passed requiring companies to comply with new regulations concerning natural resources.

Average Salary by Location

Environmental consultants earn different salaries based on their location and experience. The BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) states that the average annual wage for environmental consultants in the U.S. is $73,630 per year as of May 2020. However, wages can vary significantly depending on location and other factors.

For instance, environmental consultants employed in California tend to earn the highest wages in the nation at an average of $101,910 annually; those located in New York state come in second at an average of $99,370 each year; and those located in Texas take third place with an average salary of $96,200 annually.

The Northeast region has higher pay rates than typical for environmental consultants as a whole – coming in 2nd after the high salaries found in California – while the South has lower-than-average pay rates at $67,160 per year on average. The Midwest reports wages floating around the national mean at approximately $77,680 while salaries are slightly higher than that average – at or around $80K – for its westernmost regions like Hawaii and Alaska compared to neighboring states like Oregon or Washington where salary may hover nearer to $75K per year on average.

Average Salary by Experience Level

Environmental consultants are responsible for providing environmental analysis and advice to public and private organizations. They generally work in offices, laboratories and outdoors, depending on their particular field of work. Generally speaking, environmental consultants are well-compensated for their expertise; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median salary for all environmental scientists is over $71,000 per year. However, salaries can vary widely depending on a number of factors including experience level, geographic region and industry sector.

The table below provides a general outline of expected salaries based on experience level:

  • Entry Level: $43k-58K
  • Mid Level: $65K-85K
  • Senior Level: $95K-120K

Factors That Affect Environmental Consultant Salaries

Environmental consultant salaries vary greatly based on location, experience and level of expertise. Consultants in certain parts of the country, cities and states may have access to higher salaries than others. Additionally, the amount of experience and level of expertise a consultant has can have a distinct impact on his or her salary.

Let’s explore these factors in more detail:

Education Level

Education level is one of the main factors influencing the salary an environmental consultant can command in their position. For starters, employers may require candidates to hold a degree associated with the role, such as an environmental science or engineering degree.

A professional with advanced studies or a specific certification may qualify for a higher salary than other candidates, as employers might view them as more authoritative and competent for dealing with complex tasks.

Environmental consultants at all education levels can boost their earning potential through work experience. The longer the applicant has been exposed to and working in the field, the more potential money they could make. Finally, consultants who bring extensive knowledge of particular fields or expertise in specialized data analysis skills might be able to negotiate higher salaries than those who have not had that additional learning experience.

Certification and Licensing

In addition to proper education, environmental consultants must often acquire certification and licensing in order to work in their field. Certification can be obtained through a variety of private organizations. For example, the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) offers standards and regulations for those studying soil science, a key area for many environmental consultants. Many states have their own designation in addition to any receiving from a distinct organization. Licensing may also be required, depending on the specific profession that an individual is pursuing within the field of environmental consulting.

In almost all areas, certified and licensed professionals will receive higher pay than those who are not certified or licensed. Certifications also serve as evidence that an individual has achieved expertise in their chosen field, proving that they are reliable and skilled enough to carry out assignments and projects effectively. As such, certifications can legitimately increase pay and job prospects within the environmental consulting industry.


The environmental consulting profession is incredibly diverse and spans many disciplines, ranging from ecology and conservation to sustainability and resource management. Specializing in a specific area of environmental consulting can play a huge role in determining what an individual consultant earns. Individuals with specialized knowledge of chemistry, geology, engineering or hazardous waste may have higher earning potential than those who are not adept in any one area.

In addition to the type of work performed, consultants’ salaries can vary significantly based on the geographic location of their position, the hiring organization’s budget for the project or job, and their current experience level. Consultants with ten or more years of specialized experience tend to command higher salaries. Advanced certifications can also factor into salary considerations as well as size, complexity and duration of projects.

Be sure to research your market thoroughly so you can establish a fair salary that meets your qualifications and needs. Make sure you account for pay increases as your experience grows over time; this will help ensure that you are always able to take advantage of increased opportunities while still maintaining your financial stability.

Career Paths for Environmental Consultants

Becoming an environmental consultant is a rewarding career path as you help advise businesses, organisations, and other stakeholders on how to reduce their environmental impact. As an environmental consultant, you can have a direct hand in making a positive difference in the world. Moreover, depending on your experience and education, you can make a competitive salary.

Let’s explore what types of jobs and career paths are available for environmental consultants:

Entry-Level Jobs

For those with a passion for protecting the environment, becoming an Environmental Consultant provides a satisfying career with the potential to advance quickly. Entry-level jobs in this role usually involve fieldwork, researching and developing reports, helping to implement compliance plans and other general tasks. It can be difficult for new entrants without experience in the field to break into these positions, but with some persistence and hard work it is possible.

Entry-level jobs generally provide salaries ranging from $30,000 – $45,000 per year. Oftentimes these roles offer bonuses or commissions as well depending on performance. Depending on experience level, environmental consultants can also be offered additional incentives such as 401 (K) plans or stock options. It is important to use job postings as a starting point before negotiating pay and benefits so that you understand what is available in the industry.

As environmental consultants gain more experience they have the opportunity to receive promotions which often come with corresponding salary increases up to five figures per year or higher based on individual performance. Additionally, seasoned professionals may advance from entry-level positions into specialist roles such as Policy Analysts/Environmental Law Specialists or Technical/Research Specialists where salaries can exceed six figures annually for those at the top of their field. With solid determination and effort you can make your mark by ascending up the career ladder in this promising sector of traditional sciences!

Mid-Level Jobs

Mid-level jobs in environmental consulting typically require a bachelor’s degree and two or more years of experience in the field. Depending on the employer and the job description, specific types of experience may be required; employers may prefer that prospective employees have experience with certain fundamental disciplines in natural sciences or engineering as they relate to environmental concerns. With more than five years of relevant work experience, an environmental consultant may be able to move up to a senior role within their company.

At this level, an environmental consultant can expect to have responsibilities much like a project manager with greater technical expertise. In these roles, consultants often have control over client budgets and other project elements such as local regulations and permitting processes, public relations matters, communication with stakeholders and community groups, development of feasibility studies and/or interpretation of related drafts for clients. Much of their time is spent troubleshooting project issues and vetting innovation efforts to minimize costs associated with designs that meet strict compliance requirements.

Mid-level salaries can range from $70K-$95K depending on skill set, supervisor discretion and area of focus. Their skills are highly sought after, so experienced individuals are often highly compensated by both private sector employers as well as local, state and federal governments. Environmental regulatory compliance consulting is often seen as demanding due to its high standards for accuracy; however it also offers a unique burst of career opportunities that permit an accelerated rate in job titles when compared to traditional engineering paths in civil service jobs or corporate America positions.

Senior-Level Jobs

Senior-level roles for environmental consultants involve more responsibility than entry and mid-level positions. Senior-level consultants typically manage teams of professionals and are charged with overseeing the successful completion of projects, not just participating in them. They are also responsible for maintaining the overall quality of their team’s work. In addition to consulting duties, they may be called upon to:

  • Find new clients
  • Build relationships with existing clients
  • Develop marketing strategies
  • Review and sign off on budgets
  • Prepare client proposals
  • Communicate findings to clients.

The salary expectations for senior environmental consultants vary but they can range anywhere from $60,000 – $150,000+ per year depending on qualifications, experience level and company size. Further career progression can involve climbing the corporate ladder within consulting companies or transitioning into a higher level position within the industry such as an Environmental Program Manager or Environmental Compliance Officer role. Additionally, many senior-level consultants transition into academic or research roles that focus on specific topics related to sustainability, pollution control and climate change solutions.

Resources for Environmental Consultants

Being an environmental consultant is a great way to make a difference in the world. From helping industries reduce their emissions and waste, to offering advice on sustainable development initiatives, environmental consultants have a lot of important work to do. But it’s not just a job, it’s a well paid career.

To find out more, let’s look at some of the resources available to environmental consultants:

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations are an important resource for environmental consultants. These organizations offer a variety of services and benefits that can help environmental consultants build their skills, stay current on regulations, get access to educational material, network amongst peers, and advance their careers. Here are some examples of environmental consulting organizations:

  • American Academy of Environmental Engineers (AAEE) – Provides membership information, access to certification programs and continuing education resources.
  • Environmental Business Association (EBA) – A national organization with local chapters that provides support through networking opportunities events and advocacy efforts at federal levels.
  • International Society of Environmental Consultants (ISEC) – Focuses on providing management solutions and technical transfer services to its members as well as access to workshops and training materials.
  • National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) – Offers credentialing programs for professional credentials in the areas of health education, hazardous materials management and emergency response.
  • Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) – Specializes in energy engineering related technical topics with a focus on energy efficiency technologies, renewable energy sources and international regulatory trends.

Websites and Publications

Along with making a competitive salary, environmental consultants have access to a plethora of professional and educational resources. Whether new to the industry or experienced and looking for the latest advice, these online sites and published materials can aid in improving organizational capacity, knowledge, and efficiency.


A good place to start are the premier websites devoted to emerging environmental technology issues: Environmental Technology Information Network (ETIN), Environmental Engineering Sourcebook (EESB), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Newsroom, or Green Magazine are among the many available resources. Additionally, a wide array of human resource information is accessible through The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health or Society of Human Resources Management websites.


Guidance can also be found in industry-specific publications such as Journal of Environmental Engineering (JEE), Environmental Business Journal Online (EBJ Online), Sustainable Business Forum Magazine, Pollution Equipment News (PEN), Greener World Media Inc., Professional Safety Journal and other pertinent magazines that discuss major trends impacting the environment sector. For more focused career advice about this line of work, check out Expert Resumes for Managers And Executives or Become A Consultant: The Definitive Guide To Starting Out In Consultancy.

Online Courses and Training

As an environmental consultant you need to stay current with the latest knowledge and techniques in the industry. Online courses and training are offered by many professional organizations as well as universities and educational institutions. These courses can be incredibly helpful for learning new approaches to teaching, consulting, and other general topics related to the environment.

Online courses range from introductory level to advanced level depending on your goals as a consultant. Level one courses may cover basic concepts like preventing pollution or managing waste, while more advanced courses may cover more specialized topics like sustainable development or emerging technology for environmental analysis.

The best online environmental consultant training will have a practical component which allows participants to apply their newly acquired skills in real-world scenarios. You should also look for programs that offer support from experienced professionals in the field who can provide insights into the job market and help you better understand common trends and challenges faced by environmental consultants today.