With the government planning to increase the number of green jobs, the demand for graduates with the skills and passion to protect and preserve the environment has never been higher

What environmental areas can I work in?

Careers in the environmental sector can be split into two groups:

  • Environment - air quality, conservation, corporate social responsibility (CSR), environmental assessment, environmental science, sustainable development, waste management and water quality
  • Agriculture - crops and livestock.

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?

Employers range in size from very small or family-owned businesses to large multinationals.

Graduate training schemes are more likely to be found with large companies, government bodies and environmental consultancies. Notable environmental companies 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.

You can search the list of environmental consultancies and service providers at the ENDS Directory.

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)
  • Cefas (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science)
  • Environment Agency (EA)
  • Forestry Commission
  • Marine Management Organisation
  • Natural England
  • The Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat).

The EA has a workforce of around 10,600, with a range of graduate jobs available - you could be taken on as a scientist, geologist, hydrologist or environment officer. To find out more, see Environment Agency careers.

In terms of environmental jobs in Scotland, you could work for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) or Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). You can join the SNH in a variety of roles, from ecologist to land agent.

The sector also contains not-for-profit organisations concerned with issues such as protecting the environment and animal welfare. These often advertise a range of environmental volunteering opportunities with well-known groups, including:

  • 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:

  • to work outdoors in all weather conditions doing site visits and field-based work with some time spent in an office, which may increase as your seniority does
  • a range of roles, from practical, hands-on and physically demanding jobs to consultancy work
  • an average salary of £35,000 but this will vary depending on the entry qualification and the industry with environmental designer and those working in environmental law topping the list.
  • opportunities for self-employment but only after building up your knowledge and experience.

Where can I find volunteering opportunities?

In addition to finding full-time work in the environmental sector, there's also the possibility of gaining experience through volunteering - and it's often used as a stepping stone into many areas, including conservation, ecology and animal care.

For instance, during the summer months you could apply to help manage the various lock sites on the River Thames through the Environment Agency.

Also, wherever in the country you live, you can put your time and skills to good use both indoors and outdoors by volunteering with The Wildlife Trusts.

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

Read more about volunteering with animals.

Find out more

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