ENVIRONMENTAL PRACTITIONER (DEGREE)

Overview of the role

Providing employers with a high level of professional environmental expertise

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Occupation summary

This occupation is found in a broad and growing employment sector, with organisations of all types seeking to promote sustainable growth in a manner that is practical whilst responsible, using fewer natural resources, producing less waste, and without compromising the quality of the built and natural environment. 

Once confined to conservation, waste management or pollution prevention, the occupation has become more mainstream, infiltrating into many areas of the business world.

Environmental Practitioners are employed in a wide variety of job roles across many sectors including:

  • the voluntary and charity sectors;
  • public sector including regulatory bodies, local and national authorities;
  • educational institutions and research agencies; and
  • Private sector companies; ranging from multinational companies to smaller business requiring environmental practitioners

The broad purpose of the occupation is to provide employers with a high level of professional environmental expertise, whilst providing a robust overview of key issues and the relevant policies, regulations and legislation an organisation must consider when delivering a specific project or programme.

Environmental Practitioners will combine a high level of knowledge and understanding of environmental principles and techniques to complex environmental systems, with their expertise being developed, adaptable or transferable to a range of environmental specialisms, for example, environmental policy and legislation, air quality, climate change, energy, water resources, waste management, ecology, acoustics, land contamination, sustainability, landscape or heritage.

Environmental Practitioners have the capability to manage, at an operational level, the provision of innovative solutions that maintain, enhance and minimise environmental impacts, for example, when designing, developing, refurbishing or monitoring drainage, utilities, renewable or emerging technologies, coastal or flood defences, transport systems, or major development programmes across the urban, rural and natural environments.  

Often, Environmental Practitioners are the first point of contact for the initiation, management and analysis of specialist environmental tests and activities, research and field inspections, through to the provision of appropriate policy, regulatory and legislative guidance, all of which support the successful management and protection of the natural, built and human environments.

In their daily work, an employee in this occupation interacts with junior and senior members of their own project team, typically in an office-based environment; They will work with technical specialists both within and beyond their profession, for example, environmental managers and consultants, environmental impact assessors, design and commissioning engineers and architects. 

Environmental Practitioners will also be exposed to site/field-based activities, where they will safely carry out the collection and monitoring of data using a range of techniques, and will typically engage with surveyors, construction site personnel, environmental protection officers and regulators. 

Practitioners will build relationships within and external to their organisation, provide guidance and present work internally and externally to clients and other stakeholders, utilising their excellent written, oral and interpersonal communication skills.

An employee in this occupation will be responsible for leading projects and/or playing a key role in a larger programme and must manage their own work with a high level of autonomy, have the capability to respond positively to complex and unpredictable situations, and be able to influence and make decisions that support others across and external to the organisation. 

Practitioners will also be aware and responsible for:

  • initiation, coordination, and management of technical input from a wide range of specialists,
  • ensuring projects and programmes are planned and delivered effectively and in a timely manner
  • the compliance and review of these projects with relevant regulatory requirements
  • line management or development responsibilities for other team members, such as Environmental Technicians
  • their own capability and capacity and seek help from others such as specialist technical experts to support them in their role
  • operating effectively within their organisational, financial, and resource constraints and policies, and being compliant with statutory safety and employment regulations
  • maintaining high levels of professional conduct, ethical behaviour and integrity at all times.

Typical job titles

Typical job titles include Environmental Practitioner, Environmental Consultant, Environmental Advisor, Environmental Engineer, Environmental Protection Officer, Environmental Scientist, Environment Impact Assessor, Environmental (Monitoring) Assessor, Environmental Auditor, Land Use Planner, or Environmental Coordinator.

Environmental Practitioners can also be involved in a range of more specialist fields covering air quality, acoustics, ecology, landscape, heritage and water resources, and as such this can be reflected in job titles such as Air Quality Engineer, Acoustics Engineer, Energy Engineer, Energy and Renewables Engineer, Waste Planner, Water Environmental Consultant, Water and Flood Risk Consultant, Flood Risk Advisor, Cities Engineer, Energy Manager, Sustainability Architect, or Environmental Regulatory Consultant.