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Environmental consultant: Job description

Environmental consultants work on commercial or government contracts, addressing a variety of environmental issues. They cover a wide range of disciplines such as:

  • assessment of air;
  • land and water contamination;
  • environmental impact assessment;
  • environmental audit;
  • waste management and the development of environmental policy;
  • environmental management systems.

Major clients include the government (including local government and national regulatory organisations) and water-related organisations.

A career as an environmental consultant offers the opportunity for a structured professional path with the potential to specialise in an area of interest.

Typical work activities

Day-to-day activities vary considerably due to the range of work covered by environmental consultants.

However, a key task is to identify whether land, air or water is contaminated, by means of desk-based research and field work, and then to undertake an assessment to identify if that contaminant source can have an adverse impact on a receptor, such as humans or groundwater, for example.

Typical activities include:

  • managing legislative issues for clients and maintaining an awareness of how legislation impacts projects;
  • conducting field surveys: collecting data to establish a baseline condition for levels of pollution or contamination for a site or area of consideration;
  • interpreting data: this can include detailed assessment of data, often using software-modelling packages to identify whether 'contamination' exists in accordance with current legislation;
  • development of conceptual models: this involves identification and consideration of the potential contaminant sources, critical pathways and receptors that could potentially have an adverse impact on the immediate and wider environment;
  • report writing: completion of detailed scientific reporting, written in a manner that can be understood by non-technical people;
  • communicating with clients, regulators and sub-contractors, e.g. analytical laboratories;
  • researching previous investigations of a site to provide information to clients considering purchase;
  • undertaking field work to identify previous activities on the site and any contamination.
 
 
AGCAS
Written by Jill Freeman, Staffordshire University
Date: 
May 2014
 
 

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