Environmental Consultants


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Environmental consultants need strong writing, research, and oral communication skills to create reports and to share ideas and suggestions with clients. To hone these skills, be sure to take courses in English, writing, and speech. Course work in science, especially environmental science, as well as mathematics and computer classes will give you a solid foundation for this type of work.

Postsecondary Education

A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement to become a consultant, although some employers—especially major consulting firms—prefer to hire consultants with an MBA or other graduate-level degree, or at least a bachelor’s degree plus several years of appropriate work experience. Approximately 28 percent of management consultants have a master’s degree, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. 

Environmental consultants have a wide range of educational backgrounds. Common degrees include those in environmental engineering/science, biology, chemistry, and renewable energy. Some consultants have law degrees. Course work in business, management, communications, environmental issues and policy, math, English, and computer science is useful.

Colleges that offer degrees and concentrations in consulting include the University of Colorado-Boulder, University of Notre Dame, and the College of William and Mary.


Georgetown University, University of Southern California, the University of Texas at Dallas, and other colleges and universities offer consulting certificate programs. Contact these schools to learn more.

Other Education or Training

Many professional associations provide continuing education opportunities to environmental consultants. For example, Ceres, a nonprofit organization that addresses sustainability challenges such as global climate change and water scarcity, offers webinars that will be of interest to environmental consultants. Recent webinars included Economic Analysis of the Clean Fuel Standard, Energy Efficiency Investment, and Sustainable Commodities Investment: Forest Footprint Disclosure. The Climate Action Reserve offers training events and workshops on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the work of the reserve. NAEM, "a professional association that empowers corporate leaders to advance environmental stewardship, create safe and healthy workplaces, and promote global sustainability," offers webinars and conferences.

The Institute of Management Consultants USA offers a Mastering Management Consulting fundamentals course for those just starting a new consulting practice or re-focusing an existing one. Educational opportunities are also available in face-to-face seminars and online webinars, at its International Consult-Con conference, and through other media. 

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Becoming certified is an excellent way to demonstrate your expertise to potential employers. Environmental consultants can pursue voluntary certification from a variety of professional associations, such as the Academy of Board Certified Environmental Professionals, American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists, Ecological Society of America, Institute of Professional Environmental Practice, International Society of Sustainability Professionals, and NAEP. Additionally, the Institute of Management Consultants USA offers the certified management consultant designation to those who meet minimum educational and experience criteria in addition to passing a rigorous examination.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Knowledge of environmental issues and participation in environment-related internships, volunteer opportunities, and part-time jobs will be useful for aspiring consultants. It will take several years of on-the-job experience to move from entry-level associate to full consultant. 

Environmental consultants need strong analytical, research, and communication skills and the ability to work well with other people. They also need to be up to date on environmental policy, climate strategy trends, new environmental laws, and other issues. Other important traits include the ability to solve problems, confidence, strong ethics, leadership ability, creativity, and curiosity. Knowledge of geographic information systems and computer modeling software will also come in handy.