Environmental Consultant

Environmental consultants assess environmental impact, advise businesses and government bodies on compliance with environmental laws, and develop strategies to minimize ecological damage. This role is pivotal in helping organizations reduce their environmental footprint and navigate the complexities of environmental regulations, ultimately contributing to the protection and preservation of natural resources.

At a Glance

Imagine you are an environmental policy consultant specializing in environmental regulations and compliance employed by a national development agency. With a degree in environmental law and policy and certification as a certified environmental professional, your current project examines green infrastructure's role in sustainable urban development. Working alongside colleagues from various national agencies, your focus is on the intricate details of environmental compliance within this context.

The setting is a series of collaborative meetings and research sessions, where you are tasked with drafting a crucial report's environmental regulations and compliance section. This involves thorough research into existing environmental laws and policies, assessing their applicability to green infrastructure projects such as renewable energy installations, green spaces, and efficient water management systems in urban areas.

The primary challenge you face is the diversity of environmental regulations nationwide. This variability requires a nuanced approach to ensure that green infrastructure plans are innovative and legally viable across various jurisdictions. Your solution is to develop a modular regulatory framework that can be adapted to different legal environments while upholding a high standard of environmental responsibility.

In this role, your contribution is pivotal in ensuring the project's recommendations are legally sound and practically implementable. Your meticulous work in navigating the complexities of environmental law and policy is instrumental in shaping a sustainable approach to urban development, demonstrating the critical impact environmental consultants have in steering national sustainability initiatives.

To learn more about Environmental Consultants, check out our Day in the Life video below!


Job Duties

Job duties vary from one position to the next, but in general, environmental consultants are involved in the following activities:

  • Conduct comprehensive assessments to evaluate the potential environmental effects of proposed projects or developments.
  • Ensure client practices adhere to local, state, and federal environmental regulations and standards.
  • Develop and implement strategies for clients to improve their sustainability practices and reduce their environmental footprint.
  • Perform thorough environmental audits to assess clients' compliance with environmental laws and identify areas for improvement.
  • Analyze environmental policies and provide expert advice to clients on navigating and adhering to these regulations.
  • Create and implement plans for managing and preserving ecosystems, including wildlife habitats and natural resources.
  • Advise clients on effective waste management practices, including recycling, waste reduction, and proper disposal methods.
  • Identify and evaluate environmental risks associated with clients' activities and propose mitigation strategies.
  • Communicate and collaborate with stakeholders, including government agencies, community groups, and other entities, to address environmental concerns and promote awareness.
  • Research environmental trends and technologies and prepare detailed reports and documentation for clients and regulatory bodies.

Work Environment

Environmental consultants operate within the office, field, and laboratory. In each of these settings, individuals in this occupation carry out various duties.

The office:

  • Review and interpret environmental legislation to advise clients on compliance strategies.
  • Prepare detailed reports on environmental assessments, impact statements, and compliance audits for clients and regulatory bodies.
  • Oversee environmental projects from inception to completion, including budgeting, scheduling, and coordinating with stakeholders.
  • Engage with clients to comprehend their environmental challenges and provide tailored advice and solutions.
  • Conduct comprehensive research on environmental regulations, sustainable practices, and technological advancements in environmental management.
  • Develop and deliver training programs on environmental awareness, regulatory compliance, and best practices for clients and their employees.

The field:

  • Conduct on-site environmental audits and assessments to identify potential environmental risks and compliance issues.
  • Gather soil, water, air, and other environmental samples for analysis to assess contamination levels and ecological health.
  • Conduct flora and fauna surveys to evaluate the ecosystem's biodiversity and the impact of human activities.
  • Assess the potential environmental impact of proposed construction or development projects.
  • Supervise the cleanup of contaminated sites, ensuring that remediation activities comply with environmental regulations.
  • Facilitate meetings and discussions with community members, government agencies, and other stakeholders to address environmental concerns and solutions.

The laboratory:

  • Analyze collected environmental samples to identify contaminants and assess pollution levels.
  • Evaluate analytical data to determine environmental conditions and the effectiveness of pollution control measures.
  • Ensure that laboratory processes and equipment meet stringent quality standards for accurate and reliable data.
  • Develop and refine laboratory testing methods to improve efficiency and accuracy in environmental analysis.
  • Prepare technical reports summarizing laboratory findings, including recommendations for mitigating environmental impact.
  • Participate in research and development projects to develop new environmental technologies or methodologies for assessing and addressing environmental issues.

Where to Work

Environmental consultants are employed across various sectors, encompassing government agencies, corporations, non-governmental organizations, utility companies, and educational institutions, such as:

  • Environmental consulting firms
  • Government agencies
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • Corporate sector
  • Engineering firms
  • Research institutions
  • Utility companies
  • Real estate developers
  • International development agencies
  • Law firms

Search for jobs on the ECO Canada Job Board.

Education and Skills


If you are considering a career as an environmental consultant, you should have a keen interest in:

  • Environmental science and ecosystem conservation.
  • Sustainable development and green technologies.
  • Policy and regulations related to environmental protection.
  • Data analysis and research methodologies.
  • Community engagement and environmental advocacy.

If you are a post-secondary student considering a career as an environmental consultant, the following undergraduate programs are most applicable:

  • Environmental science.
  • Environmental engineering.
  • Sustainability studies.
  • Environmental law, policy and management.
  • Human geography and environmental management.

An undergraduate degree is the baseline educational requirement for environmental consultants, who provide critical advice on sustainability and environmental compliance. Advancing to a master’s or doctoral level can bolster your expertise, career opportunities, and capacity for offering practical environmental guidance. Such degrees equip you with specialized skills and knowledge to advise businesses, government entities, and non-profits and are highly regarded in professional and academic settings.

Professional certifications for environmental consultants in Canada are not mandatory; however, certifications demonstrate expertise in environmental practices, sustainable development, and effective environmental management, enhancing a consultant's credibility and professional standing. Key certifications include:

  • Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification: Provided by the Canada Green Building Council, demonstrates expertise in green building practices and is essential for consultants working on sustainable development projects.
  • ISO 14001: Environmental Management Systems Certification: An international standard recognized in Canada, signifies expertise in creating and applying effective environmental management systems and is crucial for environmental consultants aiming to enhance organizational environmental performance.

Our Environmental Professional (EP) designation can also help you progress in your chosen environmental career.


Technical Skills

  • Environmental impact assessment
  • Knowledge of environmental legislation and policy
  • Geographic information systems expertise
  • Environmental Auditing
  • Sustainability planning and implementation
  • Waste management techniques
  • Water quality testing and analysis
  • Air quality monitoring and management
  • Soil sampling and analysis
  • Data collection and statistical analysis

Personal and Professional Skills

  • Analytical thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Communication skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Adaptability
  • Project management
  • Attention to detail
  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Ethical judgment and integrity
  • Leadership

Environmental employers look for professionals who can combine technical knowledge with soft skills. Watch our free webinar Essential Not Optional: Skills Needed to Succeed in Canada’s Environmental Industry, or  take our Essential Skills courses.

Role Models

Your Impact

Occupational Classification

Environmental consultants are classified into the following occupational grouping:

NOC Code: 41400 – Natural and applied science policy researchers, consultants and program officers

The National Occupational 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 and describe and understand the nature of work within different occupations.

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