What is Environmental Consulting? Benefits and Cost.

Over the past few decades, environmental consulting has grown steadily, and this trend is anticipated to continue in the next few years. 

Due to mounting regulatory challenges, and demands from customers, investors, and employees, businesses are urged to reevaluate their operational procedures and adopt sustainable solutions that lessen their environmental effects. 

Environmental consulting companies can offer the highly specialized expertise necessary for such transformative change. 

In this article, we’ll examine the definition of environmental consulting, the reasons for its current boom, and the benefits and costs of corporate environmental responsibility.

What is Environmental Consulting?

The phrase “environmental consulting” is broad and encompasses a wide range of diverse environmental objectives. It frequently refers to a particular sort of compliance consulting, in which the consultant works to ensure the firm is in accordance with environmental rules, for instance. 

But it also includes advisory services that provide more broad guidance on environmental and sustainability issues, such as waste management, recycling, flood hazards, and other implications of climate change.

Environmental field consultants, environmental project managers, environmental audit consultants, environmental professionals, and environmental analysts are some of the numerous industries in which environmental consultants work. 

Environmental consultants have access to a wide range of sub-specialties in addition to the many job titles assigned to the position. 

For instance, an environmental consultant might focus on managing asbestos, contaminated land assessments, energy, geotechnical investigations or engineering, environmental management systems, green claims, compliance, impact assessments, or green claims.

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When did environmental consulting start?

Environmental consulting began to take off in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In the decades before this, very few, if any, environmental restrictions applied to businesses. Pollution wasn’t a problem, and they threw hazardous trash in landfill. 

Scientists and other experts gradually started to voice their concerns about the effects of unregulated industry and demanded rules and regulations to safeguard the environment better. 

Many industries came to a conclusion because of this that they need to do more to mitigate their impact.

Environmental consultants met this demand and then started offering their services to various businesses, guiding them on how to operate more sustainably and reduce their pollution.

Why is environmental consulting booming?

Although the market for environmental consulting was historically rather specialized, it has recently experienced a rise due to decades of consistent corporate growth. 

Furthermore, there are no indications that the tendency will slow down. According to research, the environmental consulting industry grew by more than 2% between 2016 and 2021, but by 2026; they predict this growth rate to reach 10%. What‌ causes this rising growth trend? 

Due to regulatory pressure, public awareness, and demand for more environmentally conscientious enterprises, businesses must establish increasingly ambitious targets for sustainability and the environment.

Governments are beginning to regulate this field in many nations worldwide, forcing companies to assess their environmental impact and take steps to lessen it. 

Regulations like the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) and the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), for instance, in Europe, place increasing responsibilities on businesses operating inside the European Union to disclose information on sustainability metrics and goals. 

As a result, they required boards of directors to include sustainability and carbon emission targets in their operational strategy. This shows they need guidance on strategic planning, operational change, and technical or regulatory issues.

The fact that several of the world’s best management companies, including BCG, McKinsey, Bain, and others, are now beginning to participate in this sector may be one indicator of the potential of the environmental consulting business. 

The demand for environmental consultants is great and is only anticipated to increase as rules get more stringent and demands for decarbonization increase. Businesses that have a poor environmental track record put their operations in danger. 

Customers, investors, and even employees are placing greater demands on businesses to take climate problems seriously. But many companies need more skills and knowledge necessary to make the necessary adjustments to business practices.

What are the benefits of Environmental Consulting?

Environmental consulting is a crucial and in-demand service that helps businesses and has some additional benefits. Let’s examine a few of these in greater detail:

Reduced business risk

Companies with a bad environmental track record put themselves at severe business risk, including the risk of lawsuits, the risk of breaking the rules, and the risk of supply chain disruption. 

Customers, investors, and even employees are placing greater demands on businesses to take climate problems seriously. However, many organizations need more aptitude and expertise to make adjustments. 

This is why advice on environmental issues can be so helpful. Companies can develop more sustainable processes and lessen their exposure to ecologically hazardous practices with the help of knowledgeable advisors.

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Competitive advantage

Consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious, and many actively seek out goods and services that minimize their negative effects on the environment.

This is why businesses that undergo organizational change, reduce their carbon footprint, and adopt sustainable business strategies help them stand out from their competitors.


Actually, sustainability and environmental concerns are opening up new economic prospects. According to recent research by the consulting firm McKinsey, if we want to achieve the global net zero targets by 2050, we will need to invest almost 9.2 trillion USD annually. 

This extraordinary redistribution of funds creates a huge business opportunity for companies open to change. New technologies and procedures will need to be developed, offering up new business opportunities and revenue sources.

Community benefits

Environmental consulting covers a wide range of tasks, but at its core, it always focuses on preserving and enhancing the environment, which eventually helps the community. 

Consider the environmental expert employed to conduct a site audit on a fresh parcel of land a business buys. They can take action to clean up the site and ensure it’s safe for usage if the environmental consultant finds dangerous chemical pollution. 

Environmental consultants may also perform various assessments depending on the project they are working on. For instance, they may test the groundwater or soil for contamination or evaluate a structure for asbestos. 

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Environmental awareness

Environmental consulting aids in spreading the message and increasing the company’s knowledge of environmental challenges.

Even when a corporation must comply with requirements, an environmental consultant frequently assists the business in creating and implementing a workable plan.

This motivates companies to reevaluate their environmental policies and informs those who work in commercial settings about their effects.

Environmental impact

Environmental consulting aims to reduce the negative effects of human activity on the environment.

The advice and efforts of an environmental consultant have a positive impact on the environment, whether by assisting businesses in putting up a plan of action to lessen their environmental impact or by conducting environmental assessments that lead to corrective measures.

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What are the Costs of Environment Consulting?

As of May 2023, the most recent data available, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), reports that the median annual wage for environmental engineers is $96,820.

Environmental engineers with experience make more than $153,200 per year. They make less than $59,820 at the lower end of the scale.

Most environmental engineers work a 40-hour week full-time. Some environmental engineering companies operate from offices and collaborate with project planners.

In other words, they need to be more actively involved in the project’s ongoing management. Environmental scientists must be present to serve in supervisory capacities while working with other members of a hazard elimination team. 

Hourly Rate 

Environmental engineers make an average of $46.55 per hour, according to BLS data. The highest 10% may demand $73.65 or more per hour, while the lowest 10% may only demand about $28.76. The project’s needs, scope, and difficulty will always affect the exact rate.

Per Project Rate

Due to potential unknowns, environmental engineers rarely choose per-project pricing. A thorough project brief is required to fully comprehend the pricing structure if the organization wants to hire them.

The contract serves as insurance against unpaid extra work or overtime obligations. The environmental engineer may provide a separate invoice or quotation for services not covered by the contract if the range of services is specified and itemized. Employers must know that project-based pricing is typically more expensive than hourly pricing.

Environmental engineers will determine the cost using an hourly rate plus a markup if they accept to operate under the payment arrangement. The contract project brief and job description should make it abundantly apparent how long it takes to accomplish each activity. 

The hourly pay is then multiplied by the total number of working hours. In case there are unforeseen obligations, like follow-up meetings or modifications, they will add 15% to 20%.

If an environmental engineer charges $50 per hour for their work and it takes them 120 hours to complete it, it would be three weeks. The business is required to pay the engineer $6,000 on an hourly basis. However, they might apply an additional 20% for a pricing estimate of $7,200 in a per-project price structure.

A language outlining the possibility of renegotiation or the ability to charge an hourly rate for any accomplished duties outside the purview of the predetermined job description might be added as an alternative to a fixed per-project price.

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What skills are required to become an environmental consultant?

So, besides the technical know-how needed for each job description, all ECs must possess a few fundamental competencies. Many ECs need to be proficient in front of a computer and presenting to clients. 

Environmental consultants (ECs) must be adept at gathering and analyzing environmental data pertaining to radiation, pollution, contamination, etc. After determining if those levels comply with environmental rules, the consultant must explain their results to their clients.

Being able to distill highly complex material into clear points so clients can grasp the consultant’s proposal is a crucial aspect of this job. 

Environmental science, chemical engineering, or geology majors are popular choices for ECs. A minor in business, communication, or public relations can also be helpful to you. 

Whatever their major, ECs must possess a strong knowledge of environmental laws and policies, sampling for pollutants, data analysis, etc., in addition to soft skills like writing and communication.

However, the fact that it serves as a fantastic entry point into the environmental industry for those in other businesses is one reason environmental consulting is so enticing. 

People with these soft skills and specific certifications demonstrating environmental knowledge may still be qualified candidates for these professions because you can gain them through other consulting roles.

There are numerous ways to acquire the environmental knowledge you require if you already possess the abilities to become an EC from your prior field of work. 

Certification is the most effective way to prove to potential employers that you are competent enough to work in environmental consulting, even if you have yet to receive any official environmental education. 

The CEP Certification from the Academy of Board Certified Environmental Professionals, the LEED AP, or the Certified Environmental Professional program from OSHA are a few examples of pertinent certificates.


Environmental consultants ensure that best practices are followed by assisting businesses in implementing efficient management plans and adhering to industry standards.

Additionally, their work contributes to the creation of best practices. An environmental consultant’s task is to stay current with the rapidly changing environmental laws and technologies.

Frequently Asked Questions

What benefits do environmental consultants have?

Environmental consulting is a fantastic approach to exploring a variety of environmental-related industries, looking for freelancing possibilities, and developing a wide range of transferable skills. Depending on the type of job they are allocated, ECs frequently have more flexible hours than other employees and may have the opportunity to travel extensively. 
Consultants frequently have access to a company automobile or credit card, enabling them to make business-related purchases or buy lunches for clients. Finally, ECs have a diverse clientele, enabling them to develop a sizable environmental network due to their activity.

What drawbacks are there to working as an environmental consultant?

Like any career, there are some significant drawbacks to consider; ensuring that any position allows for adequate work-life balance and is consistent with your values is crucial. Some employers can want you to keep track of your billable hours and put in extra time to finish the work. 
With this degree of autonomy, a great deal of self-motivation and trust are expected. In light of this, it might be challenging to maintain motivation because some components of environmental consulting (such as gathering samples and interpreting data) may seem repetitive to some people. On the other hand, working with challenging clients could make it challenging to maintain motivation.

How much do environmental consultants get paid? 

According to Indeed, the median annual income for ECs is roughly $69,000. But as with any employment, this figure varies greatly based on your experience, where you live, the kind of work you do, and the kind of business you work for. 
The average salary for ECs is higher than their colleagues with comparable experience working for non-profits or the government.

Who employs environmental experts?

Consultants may work alone or with sizable, occasionally international businesses. Even though private businesses typically hire consultants, these professionals frequently work on government or defense contracts. 
Environmental consulting also makes it possible to work in a variety of businesses. 



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