The UK government recently announced their plan to quadruple the number of ‘Green’ jobs by 2030. With the aim of steering those considering a job in this field, Bower Collective have conducted a study analysing the topmost advertised ‘environmental’ job roles across 11 sectors. Following on from this, the ‘sustainable living’ experts have created an environmental career finder, which enables those contemplating a career in the field to see a complete ranking of prospective job roles based on their preferred combination of relevant factors.
Considering the complete combination of factors including market growth rate, number of vacancies, average salary and entry requirements, the job role of ‘Sustainability Consultant’ has been revealed as the overall ‘most promising’ in the environmental field.
Alongside the ranking of jobs roles, based on factors such as salary and entry requirements, the study has also revealed that overall listings for environmental jobs in the UK this year have increased by 91% when compared to just five years ago (2016). In fact, all job roles analysed in the study have shown an increase in demand, however, the job role seeing the highest increase in demand was ‘Fisheries Technician’, with job postings in 2021 increasing by 675% compared to 2016.
In terms of salary, those entering the environmental field can expect to be earning at least 12% above the national average annual wage, with the average annual salary for environment-related jobs coming in at £35,267. The best job role in terms of salary prospects, is the role of ‘Environmental Designer’, with those in this position earning, on average, over £57,000 a year. The best paid sector is unsurprisingly, those working in environmental law.
The highest-scoring environmental careers
Factoring in average salary, market growth rate and the number of jobs currently available, which careers scored best overall?
Taking top place in our study is a career as a Sustainability Consultant. With increasing pressure on businesses to consider their carbon footprint, this job is currently hot in demand. Claiming second place is the role of Renewable Energy Engineer. With the biggest ever renewable energy support scheme announced in September, it’s no surprise that this career promises exciting opportunities.
Taking third position is a career option you may have never even have heard of: Arboriculturist. If you spent your childhood climbing trees, and have a scientific and analytical mind, this career option offers easy access and great prospects! Fourth on the list is Land Manager, which also boasts a great average salary — an ideal option for those wanting a balance of indoor and outdoor work. In fifth place, scoring particularly well on average salary and market growth rate is the role of Environmental Policy Advisor.
The lowest-scoring environmental careers
Every job within the environmental sector can be rewarding, however some are just harder to come by and pay a little less. The role of Zoologist involves far more than just working in a zoo, and is a great option for those wanting to protect endangered species. However, this job is highly competitive and has one of the smallest projected growth rates (36%), landing it at the bottom of our score-board. Despite being one of the more popular environmental jobs, there are limited opportunities for Marine Biologists too, landing the career in second to last spot.
Another specialist job that has a small market growth rate and demand is Plant Breeder/Geneticist (which involves improving the quality of agriculture, crops and plants). Choosing to become an Amenity Horticulturist (which typically involves maintaining public spaces), may prove frustrating due to low salary and a competitive job market, landing it in fourth to last place. Despite a great market growth rate (128%), the current market for Urban Planning is competitive, and not as well-paid as other careers on our list.
What are the best paying environmental careers?
At the top of our pay scale with an average salary of £57,511 is an occupation within Environmental Design. Environmental Designers or Architects ensure that homes and commercial buildings are built to be as environmentally friendly as possible. The career with the second-highest salary is another career already mentioned in our top five. Environmental Policy Advisors can expect an average salary of £52,146.
In third place, is a career in Environmental Law. Although this is a time-consuming career to break into, with an average salary of £51,834, the hard work pays off. Land Management is the fourth-best career overall in our study and has the fourth-highest average salary of £49,463. If you want to save the world and save money, consider a career in Waste Management. Don’t let the job title put you off; this career offers an average salary of £44,855. Reducing waste is central to the Bower mission, so we need great talent coming into this space!
Which jobs should you avoid if money makes your world go round? Despite being very similar to the role of environmental designer, an Urban Planner’s average salary is £27,861. It’s true that money doesn’t grow on trees, as Forest and Woodland Managers can only expect to earn around £26,466. Engagement Officers (£26,275), Field and Clinical Trials Technicians (£21,888) and Countryside and Park Rangers (£21,396) are in this category’s bottom three.
Which careers have seen the biggest increase in job vacancies since 2016?
With the recent news of a £24,000,000 investment in fishing, roles like Fisheries Officers have seen a 675% increase in job vacancies since 2016. If Seaspiracy inspired you, this is the career for you. Environmental Policy Advisors score highly in this aspect too, with a 550% rise.
Demand for Countryside and Park Rangers has also increased by 529%, and Climate Change Officers have seen a 429% increase. Environmental Health Practitioners (who help monitor and control pollution in the air, water and land), have seen an increase in opportunities of 419% over the past five years, the fifth most in our list.
On the other end of the spectrum, the five careers with the smallest increase in demand were Water Engineers (34%), Waste Management Officers (34%), Marine Biologists (20%), Plant Breeders and Geneticists (15%) and Hydrologists (9%).
Which environmental jobs are most in-demand?
If you’re not interested in trends, and eager to get stuck in right now, which jobs currently have the most vacancies? In the top spot is an unsurprising entry, given the state of our waste crisis. Recycling Managers and Officers! Sustainability and Environmental Consultants take second and third place, respectively.
If you are looking for a job in the charity and public sector, Engagement Officers have seen the fourth most job openings. Land Surveyors are currently the fifth most in-demand job on our list.
Which environmental careers are most accessible?
For those wanting a career change and a vocation that is easy to enter, Fisheries Technicians and Officers and Farm Managers are the top-rated jobs in our study that require minimal formal education.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you are going to dedicate yourself to postgraduate study, jobs in Environmental Law and Scientific Research will be worth the graft. However, studying to become a Plant Geneticist or Zoologist may leave you feeling disappointed (and in thousands of pounds of student debt) due to lack of vacancies, now, and in the near future.
With four, top-rated specialist courses for careers on our list, the University of St Andrews is the top destination for students wanting to break into the environmental sector. With three different courses each, LSE (London School of Economics and Political Science), the University of Oxford and also the University of Chichester are also blazing the way for specialist, environmental degrees.