Imagine you are standing at the back of a crowded press room, and television cameras, spotlights, microphones, and notepads surround you and your boss. You’re an environmental communications officer for a local conservation agency and your boss, the agency’s president, is about to make an official statement on the recent municipal decision to halt development near a sensitive wetland.
You know exactly what the statement will say because you’re the person who wrote it.
As the conservation agency's environmental communications officer, you began working on this controversial wetland development almost two years ago, when you first learned that a group of land developers proposed to drain and build on them.
Your conservation agency was aware of how sensitive and valuable the wetlands are, so you drafted a communications strategy to ensure that the agency's opposition to the proposed development was understood and widely heard.
You organized a series of informational evenings open to the public and made certain the media covered these events. You also ensured that all staff members within your own office were well informed on the issue and knew how to properly answer questions on the proposed development from the media and public.
Part of your communications strategy included educating local businesses about the environmental impacts of such a development. You also made certain your organization attended industry events and municipal council meetings to communicate your concerns.
Months and months of your hard work have paid off, with the town council agreeing to protect the wetlands area.
While job duties vary significantly from one position to the next, environmental communications officers are frequently asked to conduct the following activities:
Environmental communications officers work in a variety of locations, including:
There are a number of places environmental communications officers can find employment. They include:
Search for environmental communications officer jobs on the ECO Canada Job Board.
If you are considering a career as an environmental communications officer, you should have a strong interest in:
In most cases, the minimum education requirement is a university undergraduate degree. If you are a post-secondary student considering a career as an environmental communications officer, the following programs are most applicable:
Although it is not necessary to become certified to work as an environmental communications officer, our Environmental Professional (EP) designation may prove useful.
Hard/ Technical Skills (skills obtained through formal education and training programs)
Soft Skills (personal attributes and characteristics)
Environmental employers look for professionals who can combine technical knowledge with soft skills. Watch at our free webinar “Essential Not Optional: Skills Needed to Succeed in Canada’s Environmental Industry” or take our Essential Skills courses.
"I know that I’m really passionate about these things, but I don’t know how they fit together.” This is what Saralyn Hodgkin wrote in her unconventional letter to the University of Calgary when applying for entry into the master’s program in Environmental Design. In Saralyn’s letter, these ‘things’ are sustainable community development, socially responsible business, and social entrepreneurship. Saralyn wanted to pursue a master’s degree where she could study these three concepts and their inter-relationship. "A lot of people told me those concepts don’t mesh…but I ignored them. I was passionate about what I was doing.”
Eight months later, she had completed and defended her master’s by illustrating how all three concepts were already successfully working together in the business world. Today Saralyn’s passion has translated into a job with an international non-profit organization that incorporates all three concepts. The Natural Step’s mission is to encourage change by making the concept of sustainability easier to understand and therefore easier to implement for everybody, from municipalities to private companies. As the program and communications manager, Saralyn spends much of her time communicating her organization’s goals, which is exactly what she loves to do. "I wake up every morning and I want to go to work. I want to go to work because the people are great, because my mandate is great, because what I do is great.” Currently, she’s driving the development of the organization’s new e-learning module.
This web-based communication tool encourages people to practise sustainability and shows them how to go about doing it. Saralyn’s other responsibilities include attending conferences, crafting fundraising proposals, and responding to requests for information. She never tires of getting the word out: "I like bringing the energy up in the room, and I like talking about what we do, who we are, or about the e-learning module.” But the number of opportunities to talk about sustainability can sometimes be overwhelming. "There are so many opportunities, you can’t possibly do it all. Sometimes you have to say no.” And because it’s a non-profit organization, there are financial and time limitations on how many people Saralyn can reach with her message. But these limitations have only made her a more effective communicator. "We are all leaders in sustainability. It takes the individual to recycle a bottle at home. It takes the individual getting involved with a local organization. It takes the individual to understand what the message means… It takes the individual, whoever they are!”
Environmental communications officers are tasked with the responsibility of getting environmental news out to the public in a fast and effective manner.
They address concerns about the impact that an organization’s activities have on the environment and provide information about how environmental policies impact organizations.
Environmental communications officers are also the voice that communicates an organization’s platforms and values.
This role of an environmental communications officer is incredibly beneficial for organizations and businesses that strive for environmental awareness.
Individuals employed as environmental communications officers may be classified in one or more of the following occupational groupings:
The National Occupation Classification (NOC) provides a standardized language for describing the work performed by Canadians in the labour market. It gives statisticians, labour market analysts, career counsellors, employers and individual job seekers a consistent way to collect data, describe and understand the nature of work within different occupations.
The NOC is developed and updated in partnership with Statistics Canada to coincide with the 5- year census cycles. It is based on in-depth occupational research and consultations conducted across Canada, to reflect changes in the Canadian labour market.
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