Environmental Enforcement Officer

Environmental laws and regulations are designed to protect and foster a healthy and sustainable environment; environmental enforcement officers ensure these laws are not broken. They conduct inspections to verify compliance with environmental legislation, investigate cases where violations are discovered, and initiate procedures to fine or close an establishment contravening municipal, provincial, or federal regulations.

At a Glance

Imagine you are an environmental enforcement officer sitting at your desk filling out paperwork when you get a phone call from a concerned citizen reporting a suspicious vehicle parked on the side of the road next to the river. The person is concerned that the truck’s owner dumps liquid waste into the river.

By the time you arrive at the site, the person and the vehicle are gone, but several plastic drums are lying on the riverbank and colourful evidence of a spill along the banks. The dumper has also left footprints and tire tracks leading straight to the highway.

First, you ensure the public is safe from possible chemical contamination. Then, you start gathering evidence. You call the local RCMP detachment for assistance and ask the responding officers to take imprints of the footprints and tire tracks at the scene and collect fingerprints from the drums. You collect other evidence from the area, including samples from the drums, river water, and surrounding soil. You photograph the scene and canvass the area for witnesses, including the caller who alerted you to the crime.

You will take all the evidence to your lab for processing and ensure the cleanup is initiated at the site. It is your job to find the person responsible and prove a crime has been committed so charges can be laid and the responsible party can pay for the cleanup.

Job Duties

Duties can vary from one position to the next, but in general, environmental enforcement officers are involved in the following activities:

  • Review, prioritize, and follow up on citizen complaints.
  • Inspect industrial and commercial operations to ensure compliance with environmental laws and regulations within an officer’s jurisdiction and mandate.
  • Investigate any activities that may be in violation of environmental laws.
  • Collect samples during inspections or from sites under investigation.
  • Analyze acquired information and prepare reports.
  • Identify and assess the environmental damage caused by violations.
  • Issue and impose stop-work orders, notices of violation, directions, warning notices, and permit stay orders.
  • Initiate enforcement procedures to fine or close an establishment contravening municipal, provincial or federal regulations.
  • Work with technical staff and collaborate with other environmental agencies.
  • Work with legal professionals to prepare court actions and provide testimony when necessary.

Work Environment

Environmental enforcement officers work in a variety of locations, including:

The office:

  • Preparing paperwork and documenting complaints and actions taken
  • Communicating on the phone and in meetings with colleagues, supervisors, business owners, and the public
  • Reviewing technical reports
  • Maintaining inspection and investigation files, including preparing and submitting legal and court documents, internal communications, and orders and warnings
  • Analyzing acquired information and preparing reports.

The field:

  • Inspecting industrial and commercial facilities to verify compliance
  • Responding to complaints of environmental violations
  • Collecting evidence and statements
  • Collaborating with other organizations on joint inspections and investigations
  • Obtaining and executing search warrants
  • Issuing compliance orders, tickets, and warnings, laying charges, and serving summonses and subpoenas
  • Educating the public about environmental regulations, violations, and enforcement

Where to Work

Most environmental enforcement officers are employed by federal or provincial/territorial agencies responsible for environmental legislation and enforcement. Some environmental enforcement officers find employment with private sector companies, consulting firms, or conservation authorities.
Search for jobs on the ECO Canada Job Board.

Education and Skills


If you are a high school student considering a career as an environmental enforcement officer, you should have a strong interest in:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Legal Studies

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

  • Environmental Protection
  • Environmental Science
  • Environmental Studies
  • Environmental Policy
  • General Science

In addition to the above courses, many environmental enforcement officers take courses in law enforcement.

In most cases, the minimum education requirement to work as an environmental enforcement officer is a college technical diploma. It is not necessary to be certified to work as an environmental enforcement officer.

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


Technical Skills

  • Environmental laws and regulations
  • Environmental health and safety investigations
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Risk assessment
  • Environmental pollution monitoring
  • Sampling techniques for evidence collection
  • Compiling information
  • Data analysis and interpretation

Personal and Professional Skills

  • Professional ethics
  • Critical thinking
  • Decision making
  • Evaluation
  • Problem identification
  • Oral and written communication skills
  • Working with people

Environmental employers seek professionals who combine technical knowledge with personal and professional 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

Jason Kent

There was never a "magic moment,” as Jason Kent calls it, when he decided to be an environmental enforcement officer. He always enjoyed hunting, fishing, and growing up in the vast wilderness of the Yukon. "Knowing I could spend time in the field doing the things that I enjoy set me in this career direction.” Today, with an applied degree in environmental management, Jason is an environmental enforcement officer with Environment Canada.

His job is about more than catching people abusing the environment, "It’s about making sure people take what they’re entitled to and leave the environment the way they found it, so everybody can enjoy it. It’s more about protecting rather than enforcing.” Each Environment Canada enforcement officer is assigned a specific area of responsibility. Jason is responsible for inspecting pulp and paper mills. When he’s in the field, he can be found inspecting mills, discussing infractions with management, or taking samples of the mill’s effluent to ensure they meet government environmental standards.

Jason loves interacting with the different groups of people and learning about new technology when touring facilities. "This is a job where you’re learning as you go. I don’t think you could ever know this job inside and out.” Back at the office, Jason spends his time sorting through technical reports and writing up environmental infractions. "I’m so busy with incidents and paperwork and database entry and tracking…I don’t spend nearly as much time in the field as I’d like.”

Another responsibility that takes away from Jason’s field time is regularly attending training sessions. But with the federal government constantly issuing amendments and new environmental regulations, this training is critical. Jason admits there’s a lot of responsibility with his job. Indeed, the workload can be overwhelming at times. "I’d like to spend five hours on every file I get, really investigating the ins and the outs, but you have to take into consideration the amount of work you have to do.” No matter how busy he gets, Jason’s primary goal remains the same: "I just want to make sure people appreciate the land like it should be appreciated. It’s my job to make sure that happens.”

Your Impact

Environmental enforcement officers in Canada play a critical role in protecting the environment by ensuring compliance with environmental regulations and laws. They are responsible for investigating and enforcing environmental laws and regulations related to the use of toxic substances, their release to air, water, or land, as well as the import and export of substances that present a risk to the environment and/or human life or health, such as hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials.

The role of environmental enforcement officers is considered an environmental role because it involves protecting the natural environment and ensuring that human activities do not cause harm to the environment. An environmental enforcement officer’s role is closely connected to sustainability, as it helps to ensure that the environment is protected for future generations. It is also connected to economic and social factors because environmental protection is important for the health and well-being of communities and the preservation of natural resources.

The impact of environmental enforcement officers on the environment is significant. Enforcing environmental regulations and laws helps to prevent environmental damage and protect sensitive ecosystems. This, in turn, helps to promote environmental sustainability, which is crucial for long-term health and well-being.

Occupational Classification

Environmental enforcement officers are classified in the following occupational grouping:

NOC Code: 21120 – Public and environmental health and safety professionals

What is an NOC Code?

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 and describe and understand the nature of work within different occupations.

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.