With the UK government's commitment to expanding green initiatives and creating more green jobs, there has never been a better time to pursue a career in the environmental sector

What environmental areas can I work in?

Careers in the sector can be divided into three main categories:

  • Environment - including air quality, conservation, corporate social responsibility (CSR), environmental assessment, environmental science, sustainable development, waste management, and water quality.
  • Agriculture - covering crops and livestock.
  • Sustainability - encompasses all organisations that work to reduce our impact on the environment by conserving resources, using renewable energy sources, and minimising pollution.

There are also many land and animal-related careers, including:

  • animal care
  • animal technology
  • aquaculture
  • equine management
  • fisheries management
  • floristry
  • game and wildlife management
  • horticulture and landscaping
  • land-based engineering
  • trees and timber
  • veterinary work.

The roles available are diverse, including:

For examples of job roles in the sector, see graduate environmental jobs.

Who are the main graduate employers?

The size of potential employers varies widely, from compact family-run businesses to sprawling multinational corporations. Major employers in the field include:

  • AB Agri
  • AGCO
  • British Sugar
  • CNH Industrial
  • JCB
  • John Deere
  • KUHN
  • Magnox.

There are also many consultancies, including

  • APEM
  • Arcadis
  • Arup
  • Atkins
  • Earth & Marine Environmental Consultants (EAME)
  • Environmental Resources Management (ERM)
  • Mott MacDonald
  • RPS Group
  • RSK Group
  • SLR Consulting
  • WSP.

Can I work for an agency or charity organisation?

The UK government's Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) works with 33 public bodies and agencies, including:

  • Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB)
  • Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA)
  • Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas)
  • Environment Agency (EA)
  • Forestry Commission
  • Marine Management Organisation (MMO)
  • Natural England
  • The Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat).

The EA has over 10,600 employees across the UK. If you're beginning your career, you might want to consider their graduate programmes in science, geology, hydrology, or environmental management.

For opportunities in Scotland, you can explore the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) or NatureScot. Scotland's nature agency offers a wide variety of roles, from ecologist to land agent, allowing you to directly contribute to preserving the country's unique environment.

The environmental sector thrives on passionate individuals. Many non-profit organisations champion environmental protection and animal welfare. Well-known groups offer volunteering opportunities, such as:

  • CABI (Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International)
  • Friends of the Earth International (FoEI)
  • OneKind (leading animal campaigns charity in Scotland)
  • RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds)
  • RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).

There are many animal welfare projects you can get involved with - for more information, see jobs working with animals.

Find out where to go from here at how to get an environmental job.

What's it like working in the environmental sector?

Graduates can expect:

  • Fieldwork - you'll be conducting site visits and working outdoors in all weather conditions. As you gain experience, your role may transition to more office-based tasks.
  • Diverse opportunities - environmental careers offer a range of roles. You can choose from hands-on, physically demanding jobs to consultancy work requiring strong analytical skills.
  • Competitive salaries - the average salary for environmental graduates is £26,000. This figure can vary significantly depending on your entry-level qualification, chosen industry, and area of specialisation. Environmental designers and those working in environmental law typically command the highest salaries.
  • A route to self-employment - with sufficient knowledge and experience, you can pursue self-employment. This path offers greater freedom but also demands strong business acumen and entrepreneurial spirit.

Where can I find volunteering opportunities?

Volunteering is a fantastic way to gain experience in conservation, ecology, and animal care and is often used as a stepping stone into work in these fields. For example, you could help manage lock sites on the River Thames by volunteering with the EA during the summer.

No matter where you live, The Wildlife Trusts offer volunteering opportunities indoors and outdoors to put your skills to good use.

The following not-for-profit organisations also regularly look for volunteers:

Read more about volunteering with animals.

Find out more

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