Explore: Environment

Environment Officer
Environment Agency

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James H

My name is James H and I’m an environment officer with the environment agency. My day to day job involves really sort of protection of the environment. It’s a regulatory position so I may go out, particularly I work in Land or Water team so I ultimately look at water river basins, water courses to ensure I deal with issues related to pollution, water quality I may also deal with businesses and members of the public generally and try and engage with them to help them comply with the relevant sort of environmental protection legislation.

My career started within citizen’s advice bureau, so I worked as a case worker so I did a lot of legal work. I then moved on to trading standards after that, carried out a lot of enforcement work within trading standards, dealing with a lot of businesses and members of the public. Following on from that I worked in part of the Ministry of Justice, within part for the regulatory unit within that section and then which moved on to the environment agency after that.

I have a degree in physical geography, I’ve also did it at A Level as well. I’ve got a reasonable appreciation of the outdoors, I do a lot of outdoor activities, a lot of mountain biking and running so I appreciate that and it’s nice to be able to work in that kind of environment as well. I wasn’t quite sure at school what I wanted to do to be honest. I looked around and tried a number of things. I found the sort of regulatory root fairly interesting, a natural progression down that route. I ultimately ended up with the environment agency because it was the scientific aspect as well, mixed in with the regulatory angle. I enjoy law so it’s got that mix as well. Neither of my parents went to university. It wasn’t assumed that I’d go to University, to be honest it was left entirely open to myself and it was driven by myself so it wasn’t something that was pre planned or envisaged, it’s just somewhere where again I just went with how I felt and that’s where I ended up.

My father use to own a garage a filling station, but he sold that and retired and my mother worked for social services. I have a number of areas in mind where I’d like to end up, I think one of the great attractions to the environment agency was the size of the organisation and the ability and the opportunities to move around in that organisation and develop those further skills and attracted me to the agency specifically. In the future I definitely have an interest in law from an environmental angle, it interests me greatly and those sort of principles the permitting angles of things, it’s a natural attraction to me and things that I quite enjoy.

I’m an environment officer so you can go into a senior or technical level. You have water quality specialists, you have water resources team and specialists, you also have agricultural specialists all interlink into the water and environment and help and support an environment officer like me to be able to do their job and deliver what they need to do.

I wouldn’t necessary say that I have regrets doing my degree because I gained a lot out of doing that job not educationally but personally as well; however I do also believe that you can equally achieve the same results through that process through apprenticeships and things like that. I’ve definitely got friends that have and you know it’s really I think it’s more about the person that the actual qualification sometimes. I think you need to get out there, don’t wait for it to come to you, get out there do your research, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and phone either your local environment agency office or a similar organisation and ask them, see if you can go and visit, see if you can do work experience, look at their website look at the information that’s out there, speak to as many people as you can and do your research because it’s never going to come to you, you need to go out and get it to be able to understand what you really want.

If you’re looking for financial award, sometimes you know there are obviously more attractive options, however you look at the work that you do and the achievements and the impact you have on the local environment and the communities and it can easily make up for that

James enjoyed geography and sciences at school and went on to choose Geography for his degree subject. He volunteered for the citizens advice bureau whilst at university and this helped him gain a job there when he finished his degree. He now works at the Environment Agency and relishes the variety within the role.

More information about Environment professionals

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

52%  male 
48%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Jobholders in this unit group investigate, address, and advise on a variety of terrestrial and marine environment and resource management issues, including the development and implementation of environmental policies and remedies that address the impacts of human activities and industrial processes on the environment.
A good degree in a relevant subject is normally a minimum entry qualification, and some employers will require a postgraduate qualification. Relevant work experience to complement academic qualifications is highly desirable. Professional qualifications across a wide range of areas of work are available.
  • Identifies contamination of land, air or water and assesses any adverse impact on the environment;
  • Advises on and provides solutions for mitigating the effects of such contamination;
  • Implements remediation works;
  • Carries out environment-related desk-based research and fieldwork to collect, analyse and interpret data to determine their validity, quality and significance;
  • Carries out environmental audits and environmental impact assessments;
  • Communicates scientific and technical information to relevant audiences in an appropriate form, via reports, workshops, educational events, public hearings;
  • Assists organisations to conduct their activities in an environmentally appropriate manner;
  • Implements, reviews and advises on regulatory and legislative standards, guidelines and policies;
  • Provides professional guidance to clients, government agencies, regulators and other relevant bodies, having regard for sustainable approaches and solutions.
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