Environmental Manager: Who are they, what do they do, why do you need one and how to become one?
Have you ever wondered who an environmental manager is and what their real work entails? In a growing economy where businesses are becoming more aware of the footprint of their operations, the demand for environmental managers is increasing rapidly. This set of industry leaders has the tools to guide organisations to match their sustainability goals through all sections— cost cutting, energy and fuel efficiency, CSR growth, mitigating risks, improving reputation, matching legal compliances and earning relevant certifications.
If you’ve been up to speed with our blogs, you’d know how most of our pieces revolve around the importance of managing environmental footprint and offer guidance towards key trends for optimised and sustained growth. Here we will delve into the critical role that environmental managers play in helping businesses operate sustainably. Whether you’re a business owner, a sustainability enthusiast, or simply interested in environmental management, this article is a must-read for anyone looking to improve their sustainability practices and reduce their environmental impact.
Table of Contents
- What is Environmental Management?
- What is Environmental Management System?
- What Does an Environmental Manager Do?
- Certifications Required to Become an Environmental Manager
- How Can Environmental Managers Help a Business?
- How to become an environmental manager?
- Top Job Boards for Environmental Manager Jobs
What is Environmental Management?
In order to reduce environmental impacts and promote sustainable practices within organisations, communities, or ecosystems, strategies, policies, and practices are monitored and put into action. This process is known as environmental management. It entails using a methodical strategy to discover, assess, and manage the environmental risks and elements related to human activity.
Environmental management aims to minimise harmful environmental effects while ensuring the protection, conservation, and sustainable use of natural resources. It includes incorporating environmental factors into decision-making processes and putting needed measures in place to stop or reduce pollution, cut down on waste production, conserve energy and water, and support biodiversity preservation.
What is Environmental Management System?
An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a structured framework or set of processes and practices designed to help organizations effectively manage their environmental impacts and improve their environmental performance. It provides a systematic approach for identifying, monitoring and controlling the environmental aspects and risks associated with an organization’s activities, products, and services.
The purpose of an EMS is to establish a proactive approach to environmental management, integrating environmental considerations into daily operations and decision-making processes. It provides a framework for setting environmental objectives and targets, implementing action plans, and continually improving environmental performance.
What Does an Environmental Manager Do?
The role of an environmental manager can vary depending on the industry and the size of the organization. However, in general, they operate as a consultant and guidance manager responsible for ensuring that a business operates in compliance with environmental regulations, implements sustainable practices and reduces its environmental impact. Some specific responsibilities of an environmental manager may include:
An environmental manager stays up-to-date with environmental regulations and ensures that the business operates in compliance with them. They may also be responsible for obtaining permits and licenses, submitting reports to regulatory agencies and responding to inquiries or inspections from regulatory agencies. For example, legal compliance for energy management in large industries.
An environmental manager identifies and manages environmental risks that could impact the business, such as pollution, waste, or hazardous materials. They may conduct risk assessments, develop emergency response plans, and oversee the proper handling and disposal of hazardous materials.
An environmental manager develops and implements sustainable practices that reduce the business’s environmental impact. This might cover reducing energy and water usage, minimizing waste, and promoting eco-friendly initiatives. They may also track and report on the business’s environmental performance and identify areas for improvement. For example, compliance with SDGs.
Education and Training
An environmental manager may be required to educate employees about environmental regulations, sustainable practices, and the importance of reducing the business’s environmental impact. They may also develop training programs and provide ongoing support. This ensures that employees understand and comply with environmental policies and procedures.
Environmental managers report on the business’s environmental performance. This includes tracking metrics such as energy usage, water consumption, waste generated, and emissions. They may also prepare reports for regulatory bodies or stakeholders.
Environmental managers conduct audits to identify areas of the business that could be improved in terms of environmental sustainability. They evaluate the business’s current practices and identify areas for improvement.
Developing Environmental Policies
Environmental managers develop policies that help a business to operate sustainably. These policies typically cover issues such as energy usage, waste reduction, water conservation, and pollution control.
Certifications Required to Become an Environmental Manager
To become an environmental manager, it is generally recommended to have a bachelor’s degree in environmental science, environmental management, or a related field. However, certifications can enhance your credibility, demonstrate your commitment to the field and provide you with specialized knowledge and skills. Some of the most common certifications required or preferred by employers in the UK include the following;
- Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA): The IEMA offers a range of environmental management certifications, including the Associate Certificate in Environmental Management and the Practitioner Certificate in Environmental Management.
- Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH): The CIEH offers several environmental health certifications, including the Level 4 Certificate in Environmental Management and the Level 5 Certificate in Environmental Management.
- International Organization for Standardization (ISO): The ISO offers certifications in environmental management systems, including ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management Systems Lead Auditor and ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management Systems Lead Implementer.
- National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH): The NEBOSH offers a diploma in Environmental Management, which covers the principles of environmental risk management and sustainability.
- Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM): The CIWEM offers various environmental management certifications, including the Certificate in Environmental Management and the Diploma in Environmental Management.
How Can Environmental Managers Help a Business?
1. Compliance with Environmental Regulations: Environmental regulations are complex and constantly evolving, and non-compliance can result in significant fines and reputational damage. An environmental manager can help a business navigate these regulations, ensure compliance, and mitigate environmental risks. They can also help the business stay ahead of regulatory changes and proactively implement sustainable practices.
2. Improved Environmental Performance: An environmental manager can help a business identify areas for improvement and implement sustainable practices that reduce its environmental impact. This can lead to cost savings through reduced energy and water usage, minimized waste, and improved efficiency. It can also improve the business’s reputation with customers, investors, and other stakeholders who are increasingly concerned about environmental sustainability.
3. Competitive Advantage: As more businesses adopt sustainable practices, those that don’t may be left behind. Having an environmental manager can help a business stay competitive by identifying opportunities for sustainable innovation and implementing best practices that differentiate it from competitors.
4. Risk Management: Environmental risks, such as pollution or hazardous waste, can result in costly clean-up efforts, legal fees, and reputational damage. An environmental manager can identify and mitigate these risks through proper handling, storage, and disposal of hazardous materials, as well as developing emergency response plans.
5. Employee Engagement: Engaged employees are more likely to be invested in the success of the business and committed to its sustainability goals. An environmental manager can educate employees about the importance of sustainability, provide training on environmental policies and procedures, and involve employees in sustainability initiatives. This can lead to increased job satisfaction and employee retention.
Businesses that prioritize environmental sustainability will benefit from the expertise of an environmental manager, both in terms of their bottom line and their impact on the environment.
How to become an environmental manager?
Becoming an environmental manager typically requires a combination of education, relevant experience, and specific skills. Here are the steps you can take to pursue a career as an environmental manager:
Obtain a relevant degree
A bachelor’s degree in environmental science, environmental management, sustainability, or a related field is typically the starting point. This degree provides a strong foundation in environmental principles, laws, regulations, and management practices. Some universities also offer specialized master’s degrees or postgraduate programs in environmental management or sustainability, which can further enhance your knowledge and qualifications.
Gain relevant work experience
Practical experience is crucial to becoming an environmental manager. Look for internships, entry-level positions, or volunteer opportunities in environmental organizations, consulting firms, government agencies, or companies with a focus on sustainability. This will provide hands-on experience in environmental management practices and help you develop a practical understanding of environmental issues.
Develop key skills
Environmental managers require a range of skills to effectively perform their roles. Some essential skills include:
- Environmental knowledge: Deep understanding of environmental principles, regulations, and sustainability concepts.
- Project management: Ability to plan, organize, and execute environmental projects, including managing budgets, timelines, and resources.
- Communication and interpersonal skills: Strong written and verbal communication skills to effectively communicate with stakeholders, clients, and team members. Interpersonal skills are important for building relationships, facilitating collaboration, and engaging with diverse stakeholders.
- Analytical and problem-solving skills: Ability to analyze complex environmental issues, identify potential solutions, and make informed decisions.
- Leadership and management skills: Environmental managers often oversee teams or projects, so leadership and management skills are essential to guide and motivate others.
- Knowledge of environmental regulations: Understanding of local, national, and international environmental regulations and compliance requirements.
- Sustainable practices: Knowledge of sustainable practices and ability to implement sustainable initiatives within organizations.
Seek professional certifications
Consider obtaining professional certifications to enhance your credentials and demonstrate your expertise in environmental management. The most recognized certification in this field is the Certified Environmental Professional (CEP) designation offered by the Academy of Board Certified Environmental Professionals (ABCEP). Other certifications like the ISO 14001 Lead Auditor certification or specific certifications related to an environmental impact assessment or sustainability may also be valuable.
Stay updated and network
Environmental management is a rapidly evolving field with new regulations, technologies, and practices emerging regularly. Stay updated with the latest developments, research, and industry trends through professional associations, conferences, workshops, and publications. Networking with professionals in the field can also provide valuable insights and career opportunities.
Pursue career opportunities
Once you have the necessary qualifications and experience, start applying for environmental management positions. Explore opportunities in government agencies, consulting firms, environmental organizations or corporate sustainability departments. Tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight your relevant skills, education, and experience in environmental management.
Continuous professional development
Environmental management is a dynamic field, and ongoing learning is essential. Engage in continuous professional development by attending training programs, workshops, and conferences. Stay updated on emerging environmental issues, regulations, and best practices.
Top Job Boards for Environmental Manager Jobs
What does an environmental manager do?
An environmental manager oversees environmental practices, ensures compliance with regulations, develops sustainable strategies, and manages environmental risks within organisations.
What are the skills of an environmental manager?
Environmental managers need skills in environmental knowledge, project management, communication, problem-solving, leadership, and regulatory compliance.
Is environmental management in high demand?
Yes, environmental management is in high demand due to increasing environmental concerns, sustainability initiatives, and stricter regulations.
Is environmental management a good career?
Yes, environmental management offers a rewarding career with opportunities to make a positive impact, contribute to sustainability, and address environmental challenges.
What are the main objectives of environmental management?
The main objectives of environmental management are to protect the environment, promote sustainability, mitigate environmental impacts, and comply with regulations.
How to become an environmental manager?
To become an environmental manager, obtain a relevant degree, gain practical experience, develop key skills, consider certifications, stay updated, and pursue career opportunities in the field.
What are the benefits of environmental management?
Environmental management brings benefits such as improved environmental performance, cost savings through resource efficiency, enhanced reputation, increased competitiveness, and better risk management.