What skills do you need to succeed in environmental careers?

Are you looking for an environmental career or hoping to progress further in your current role? One way to succeed is to be aware of the skills for environmental jobs that employers consider essential. By identifying the skills environmental employers are looking for, you’ll know where to focus your time and energy when it comes to personal development.

Our report: “Skills Essential for Success in the Environmental Sector”, surveyed private and public sector employers, employees, and post-secondary institutions to reveal the essential skills needed for a job in the environmental sector. Below, we’ve broken down the details to provide a quick overview of these skills along with suggestions on how to develop them.

Essential Skills for Environmental Jobs

woman talking to a man in professional setting

The skills and knowledge needed for success in environmental careers can be broken down into two categories: technical skills and soft skills. Both categories are important for career progression whether you’re just starting out or have been working in the sector for years. While technical skills are required to land a job, being able to demonstrate your soft skills is critical for career progression.

Technical skills required for environmental careers

Technical skills include those that are more specific to the sector you’re working in. Being aware of policies, legislation and new development that might affect your job all come under technical skills. Technical skills can be broken down into the following areas:

  • Policy and legislation
  • Communications and Public Awareness
  • Industry Knowledge
  • Health and Safety
  • Research and Development

All these skills were deemed important for environmental jobs. Those surveyed agreed that there were a couple of areas where continuous learning and development were beneficial for career progression.

Policy and legislation

Employees stated that continuous development and learning of policy and legislation for the environmental sector was important for career progression and success. Keeping up to date with industry changes is important in many environmental careers. Some ways to do this include watching our webinars and reading our latest research. Both of these can help you stay on top of changes affecting the environmental sector.

Industry knowledge

Industry knowledge was viewed by employers as the most important technical skill for their employees to have. This was true whether you were looking to get your first job in the environmental sector or had worked in it for a while. Environmental work often spans multiple industries and staying informed on changes in those industries is considered vital.

Sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive industry updates.

Research and development

Research and development skills are useful in many environmental job roles. Employers stated these skills were particularly important for employers in mid to senior-level roles. With the rapid advancements in the technology we’re seeing, being able to demonstrate skills in research and development will help set you up for success.

The environmental sector is seeing rapid advancements in technology being used to manage environmental challenges. This sector is growing, and Canada is the world’s top innovator for cleantech solutions. Developing research and development skills will open many career possibilities.

Soft skills to succeed in environmental careers

Soft skills are just as important as technical skills for success in environmental careers, especially as your career advances. They’re important across all industries in the sector to help ensure both efficient team and individual work. These soft skills were cited as important by employers in our research:

  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Project Management
  • Report Writing
  • Attitude

Gaps in these areas can slow your career success whilst showing strength in these areas, together with a strong technical background, can give you the edge against other candidates when applying for new roles.

Demonstrating these skills is particularly important if you’re new to the environmental job market. Environmental employers noted that junior employees and graduates were sometimes lacking in these skills. Our Essentials Skills 100 Certificate is a great way to work on your soft skills to ensure you’re ready for career success.
Another way to strengthen your soft skills is to take part in work placements, internships and co-op programs. We offer several different placement programs that can help you secure employment and build your soft and technical skills.

Communication & Collaboration

Communication is key for all experience levels in the environmental job sector and is a skill you’ll work on continuously as your career progresses. Having strong communication skills makes collaboration with others smoother and this is something employers are always looking for.

Communication skills can involve demonstrating the ability to present clearly and professionally to a client, contributing to a team and being able to explain technical information in a more accessible format. Other important aspects of communication include knowing how to deal with workplace conflict and showing leadership qualities. These skills are important at all stages of your career; becoming increasingly important as you advance.

Our Professional Communications course helps develop your communication skills and build confidence by teaching techniques to overcome typical communication barriers, adopt effective body language, resolve conflict and more.

Project management

Project management skills are demanded across all experience levels in the environmental sector. Project management involves both soft and technical skills. You’ll need to show your ability to manage people and resources and combine this with technical skills in order to meet the requirements and objectives of a project.

If project management is new to you, we recommend taking our Project Management Basics course. For those of you with some existing project management knowledge, take a look at the Project Management Essentials course to continue developing your skills.

Report writing

Report writing skills are needed in many environmental careers.  Being familiar with collecting data and following the standard report writing structure are both important aspects of report writing. Candidates with strong report writing skills are in high demand so being able to show your strengths in this area will help you stand out.

We offer two technical writing courses that will help you with writing reports, proposals, and environmental impact assessments. The first, Technical Writing Basics is aimed at helping you to develop your ability to write efficiently and with confidence. This can be followed up with the Technical Writing Essentials course which takes these skills further.


Success in the environmental sector requires a combination of both technical skills and knowledge and soft skills. Continuous learning and development of these skills are important to help you progress throughout your environmental career. If you’re unsure of where to start, take a look at our Essential Skills 100 and Essential Skills 200 which are great ways to develop and demonstrate your skills.

ECO Canada Logo

Site en cours de développement

Nous travaillons actuellement sur la version française du site que nous espérons lancer très bientôt!

Merci pour votre patience et compréhension pendant que nous finalisons la version améliorée du site.

Website in Development

We are working to launch the French site very soon!

Thank you for your patience while we finalize the new and improved version of our website.