The Qualifications You Need to Be an Environmental Consultant


Are you passionate about protecting the environment? Do you have an eye for detail and the desire to make a difference? If so, a career as an environmental consultant could be the perfect fit for you.

In this blog, we’ll introduce you to the qualifications that you need to become an environmental consultant and open up a world of possibilities. So let’s dive in!


Environmental consultants are experts who help people or organizations understand and comply with environmental regulations, policies and management practices. Environmental consultants may work in a variety of settings, from private firms to government agencies to nonprofit organizations. The qualifications for an environmental consultant vary depending on the type of work they do, their educational background and the level of interest they have in the environment. This guide provides an overview of what it takes to become an environmental consultant.

Typically, environmental consultants possess a combination of education and experience in order to qualify for positions. An understanding of state and federal regulations related to environmental issues is essential, as well as experience working in public or private environmental settings. Educational qualifications can range from undergraduate degrees focused on natural science or environmental studies to graduate degrees such as master’s degrees in public policy or law with specialization in environmental fields. Depending on the type of work they do and the organization they work for, an individual may also pursue professional certifications that recognize expertise in specific areas of practice. Such certifications may be offered by professional organizations dedicated to a particular practice area or through universities offering accredited programs focusing on those topics. Additionally, many employers require that prospective employees pass specific tests related to their particular field of specialization before being hired as an environmental consultant.

Educational Requirements

To become an environmental consultant, you should have at least a Bachelor’s degree. In general, the areas should be related to engineering or science; majors in chemistry, biology, geology, civil engineering and other disciplines are acceptable. Depending on where you are employed and the duties of your job, it may also be necessary to complete advanced degrees such as a master’s degree or doctorate.

Environmental consultant candidates may also need to gain certifications from either a local or national organization related to their work. The certifications are generally related to specific specialization areas or determined by the state in which one resides and works. Some states may require consultants to take continuing education courses as part of a recertification process every few years. Certain certifications may also require passing an examination administered by another industry source or organization:

  • Local or national organization related to their work
  • Specialization areas or determined by the state
  • Continuing education courses as part of a recertification process
  • Examination administered by another industry source or organization

Professional Certification

Environmental consultants must demonstrate specialized knowledge in the field. Various professional certifications can be beneficial for consultants in this field. Professional certification is offered through organizations that specialize in environmental consulting and certification bodies like the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA).

Professional certifications for environmental consultants can cover topics such as air quality, industrial hygiene, hazardous materials management, or conservation. Each certification program has its own set of learning requirements and standards to meet. After successful completion of the required courses, examinations, and assessments, a standing certificate is granted by IEMA or other such organizations. Certification provides an assurance to employers and clients of an environmental consultant’s knowledge as well as his or her commitment to professional ethics. Renewal of these certifications usually necessitates retaking a course or examination every few years.

Technical Skills

Environmental consultants need to have extensive technical knowledge in order to be effective in their roles. Generally speaking, they should have an academic degree in a science or engineering discipline, or professional qualifications and experience relevant to their role. This may include advising on air quality, soil contamination or waste management services for businesses and government departments.

Additionally, environmental consultants must possess strong research and analytical skills so that they can accurately assess environmental data from laboratory tests, reports from other professionals and field sampling. They must also be familiar with scientific research techniques so that they can effectively analyze environmental problems, develop solutions and make informed recommendations.

Furthermore, environmental consultants must possess the administrative skills required to work with clients on the developing environmental policies such as air pollution regulations or water conservation directives for businesses. They will also need expertise in financial analysis so that they can evaluate the costs associated with proposed solutions and budgets for compliance.

Finally, excellent interpersonal skills are required so that the consultant can communicate effectively with clients on complex compliance topics as well as government agencies when necessary. Environmental consultants must also be knowledgeable enough to address any public concerns pertaining to health issues surrounding compliance concerns or other related topics.

Problem-Solving Abilities

Environmental consultants often work in multidisciplinary teams to solve complex environmental and sustainability issues. As such, it is essential that they have strong problem-solving abilities and are able to think critically.

To diagnosis the source of an environmental issue or identify potential solutions, environmental consultants must be able to:

  • Review available data
  • Understand the implications of various actions
  • Draw conclusions from the information presented
  • Evaluate a range of alternatives

Additionally, they must be able to:

  • Identify relevant stakeholders for their projects
  • Work with varying parties to make progress toward objectives

Strong interpersonal skills are also critical for effective collaboration with team members as well as external partners. Excellent communication skills are needed to craft evidence-backed recommendations and present clear solutions that persuade involved parties to move forward with implementation plans.

Communication Skills

It is important for an environmental consultant to be able to communicate effectively and collaborate with a variety of stakeholders. Communication skills are necessary when holding meetings to discuss assessment findings, dealing with clients, assisting with the completion of paperwork, and presenting data. Communication also plays a role in educating members of the public on relevant environmental issues as well as working with other professionals and officials.

Effective communication also includes the ability to use technology, such as drafting reports using computers or developing presentation materials using software programs. In some cases, knowledge of a foreign language may be useful in order to negotiate international projects or understand different cultures related to sustainability and the environment.

Interpersonal Skills

It is important to have a range of interpersonal skills that can help environmental consultants build relationships with clients and resources throughout an environmental project. First and foremost, effective communication is essential to ensure that everyone involved in the project understands the scope of work and timeline for completion. Additionally, having organizational skills is key for prioritizing tasks, developing objectives, and meeting goals in a timely way. It is essential for establishing trust between consultant and client.

Problem-solving capabilities are also paramount to address potential issues that may arise before, during and after an environmental project. As these will likely require critical thinking and proficient decision making, emotional intelligence can further be an advantage for navigating any contentious or delicate matters throughout a project’s lifecycle. Furthermore, possessing strong negotiation skills can be beneficial for bridging gaps between all stakeholders so they can resolve conflicts and find common ground on difficult choices or situations.


The qualifications you need to become an environmental consultant depend on the field you decide to specialize in. Typically, a bachelor’s degree or higher in an environmental science-related or business discipline is necessary. Experience conducting environmental research and analysis or consulting duties is also preferred.

Along with this, many employers want their environmental consultants to have intimate knowledge of the particular environment they are working in and the regulations governing it. Since much of a consultant’s job involves reporting and making recommendations on compliance issues, having a thorough understanding of relevant government regulations is key.

Additionally, possessing good project management skills can be beneficial in this field as being able to manage multiple projects simultaneously is often necessary. To stand out from other applicants, earning certification from organizations such as the American Academy of Environmental Engineers (AAEE) could be beneficial in your job search.