Approximately 131,700 people were employed in the environmental consulting industry in 2019, according to IBISWorld, which also reported that there were 57,610 environmental consulting firms in the United States. Many environmental consultants work in the private sector for firms that provide consulting services to companies, nonprofits, government agencies, and other organizations. Major environmental consulting firms include Jacobs, Black & Veatch, EnergySolutions LLC, FTI Consulting, Hart Energy, Stantec, CDM Smith, Ramboll Environ, Veolia Environnement, MWH Global, and Clean Harbors Inc. Large management consulting firms such as A.T. Kearney, Bain & Company, and the Boston Consulting Group also have sustainability consulting practices. Government agencies, corporations, and nonprofit organizations employ consultants. Approximately 18 percent of management consultants are self-employed. Although environmental consultants are employed throughout the country, most work in major metropolitan areas.
Job search strategies in environmental consulting range from contacting environmental firms directly, to accessing job listings at employment or association Web sites, to using the resources of your college’s career services center. You can also network with recruiters at social-media sites such as LinkedIn or at networking events held by environmental associations.
At large management consulting firms, new hires (sometimes called associates, consultants, business analysts, or fellows) begin as generalists before gaining experience in environmental consulting. They either become specialists at the firm, move on to specialty environmental consulting firms, or work for other employers that have a need for environmental consulting expertise.
The career path for a corporate environmental consultant is not linear, so advancement can occur in different ways, depending on one’s interests and talents. Consultants can advance to senior management and director positions within the corporation. They may consult with outside organizations while employed, or start their own consulting businesses. They may also lecture at conferences, teach at universities, or share their knowledge by writing books and articles.
Those who work at consulting firms can advance to take on managerial duties or eventually become partners (also known as principals)—consultants who have a financial stake in their firms. It’s not easy to become a partner. In fact, industry experts estimate that new graduates have only a 35 percent chance of making partner during their careers.
Tips for Entry
Read blogs such as The Green Tie (https://www.naem.org/connect/blog) to learn more about issues in the field.
Attend Ceres’ annual conference (http://www.ceresconference.org) and other industry events to network and to interview for jobs. Visit http://www.greenpowerglobal.com for a list of green conferences.
Conduct information interviews with consultants, and ask them for advice on preparing for and entering the field. Visit the IMC USA Web site, http://www.imcusa.org/search/custom.asp?id=2065, for a database of consultants.
Read Consulting magazine (http://www.consultingmag.com) and environmental publications to learn more about the field.