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Environmental / Sustainability Consultant

A consultant provides expert advice and recommendations on a particular area to clients (either individuals or organisations). Consultancy organisations, which range from large to small in size, employ consultants to work with external parties.  

An Environmental or Sustainability Consultant is influential in embedding responsible and sustainable business principles and practices with their clients and within their own organisations.

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The information in our job profiles aims to give a general overview of the role and a guideline to what it involves. The content is not intended to be exhaustive and roles will vary depending on the organisation and sector. The salary ranges are a guide only, as these are dependent on the size and location of the organisation.

Entry level salary range
Early career salary range
Experienced salary range
Senior leadership salary range

How does this role align to the green agenda?

The primary purpose of the role of an Environmental Consultant is to assess and evaluate the impact and environmental impact likely to result from a specific project/product/activity or service/development. Often, Environmental Consultants will advise on output/results verses environmental implications and improvements. Fields of work may cross many different sectors and industries.

As well as looking at the environmental impacts, a Sustainability Consultant will often advise on a broader range of areas, such as social value, human rights and corporate responsibility.

The goal of an Environmental or Sustainability Consultant is, ultimately, to contribute to environmental/sustainability improvements through their assessment, findings and advice. This is done by detecting the causal effects of developments, activities and projects on the planet and its resources, and recommending actions to minimise or eliminate environmental damage.

Three people working together

Skills and capabilities

Technical knowledge

  • Sound knowledge of geography and maths
  • Competent computer skills with knowledge of main software packages
  • Knowledge of auditing and assessment techniques
  • Knowledge of, and an interest in, current environmental science and sustainability issues and trends.

Transferable skills

Transferable skills gained from extra-curricular activities or specific job tasks, either paid or voluntary, may be incorporated into the role of Environmental or Sustainability Consultant.

  • Effective communication skills
  • Attention to detail and prioritising
  • Influencing skills and the ability to use own judgement to inform decision-making
  • Critical thinking
  • Analytical thinking
  • Planning
  • Presenting
  • Relationship development.

A day in the life

Day-to-day activity will involve delivering assessments and related consultancy, such as gathering and processing data and presenting and reporting back to stakeholders. Often UK travel will be required for the role. Typically, the role is full time and is office- and site-based depending on the sector and field of specialism.

Working for an independent or smaller consultancy may afford an opportunity to learn and be exposed to broader areas of running a business, working across a diverse spectrum of clients, potentially with more autonomy.  Conversely, working for a larger organisation may offer more opportunity for career progression into other departments or areas of specialism working with multidisciplinary teams.

Woman sitting on a sofa with a headset on and talking at her laptop
Typical duties and responsibilities include:
  • Conducting environmental assessments, both desk-based and at site locations
  • Collecting, analysing and reporting on survey and assessment data
  • Evaluating compliance with laws, regulations and permits
  • Leading on and contributing to projects related to assessments
  • Maintaining good working relationships with all stakeholders
  • Providing policy advice and giving guidance to relevant stakeholders, businesses, land/building owners, local authorities and other bodies
  • Contributing to promotional work, business development, planning and expansion activities (relevant to consultancies).

Entry routes

Potential career progression

There is great opportunity to progress within the role of Environmental or Sustainability Consultant as the sectors are so vast. It’s possible to become a technical expert in complex projects within a specific area. Such specialisation may span countries and large-scale developments, for example working on environmental legislation, policy, planning, guidance and licensing. Also, with responsibilities for procurement decisions and contractor leadership and management.  

Move into an associate, senior or principal consultant position within a corporate or environmental consultancy.

Potential to set up a consultancy business or become an advisor to authorities, bodies or government.

Consider obtaining Chartered Environmentalist status to progress further.

Working in the field of research, or in education as a Lecturer or Teacher.

Relevant sectors

Environmental and Sustainability Consultants are needed across a wide range of sectors, including:

  • Construction and the built environment
  • Energy
  • Engineering
  • Food and drink
  • Manufacturing
  • Transport and logistics
  • Utilities
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Learn about the green agenda across different sectors

Information kindly supplied by:
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SHIFT Environment

SHIFT Environment delivers excellent environmental reports which clients use for effective environmental strategy development, compliance reporting and ESG investment.

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IEMA is the membership body for environment and sustainability professionals