Thinking of changing career and working in the environment?
Making a career change into another industry can be daunting, exciting but hard work! However, based on a recent IEMA survey, over a third of environmental practitioners have changed careers at some point in their career history.
Many choose to change career due to loss of enthusiasm in their role, a lack of challenge or because they want to work in an area that really makes a difference.
However it seems that one of the the main reasons people change careers into the environment is because they care about creating a sustainable future. Over 56% of respondents to a 2011 IEMA survey said that they moved from another sector into an environmental role because they either wanted to make a difference or they had a natural interest in the environment and wanted a job that reflected that passion.
Many other people move into an environmental role because their existing job had evolved and taken on environmental responsibilities (this is particularly common in the Health & Safety, Quality and Facilities Management fields).
Even industries that were not previously aligned with environmental principles are now required to employ environmentally knowledgeable professionals and therefore the profession is on the move, making its way to the centre of organisation's business plans. That means more jobs being created, opening up opportunities for those with an interest in the environment.
Why not take a look at the "transferable skills" and "ten top tips" pages to find out how you could move into an environmental role?
Sophie Bennett looks back on why she chose to make a career change into the environment and how she did it.
Some might describe me as a late-comer to the environmental sector. Despite always having had a ‘conscience’ about the environment and being a great Nature lover and keen amateur ornithologist, it took me a while to discover that these interests could offer me a great job opportunity.
In fact, I first graduated in 1991 in German and Swedish and worked for over a decade in business research and information management, before turning my back on a job that no longer fulfilled me, in order to find more purpose.
Between 2002 and 2004, I took evening classes to gain my ‘A’ level biology and then applied to study for a full-time 3-year BSc in Conservation Biology. This was a natural choice for me, given my life-long love of all creatures great and small, and a deep concern for Man’s effect on the planet – as much theirs as ours.
I graduated for the second time in the summer of 2008, and, with my shiny new science degree, quickly found a position as a technical adviser at the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment.
As a mature graduate, with prior experience of the workplace, I felt that I had valuable transferable skills and experience to bring to a new career, but at the same time I did also accept that I would return to the employment market in effect as a fresh graduate, older than my peers and yet a novice in many respects. So far it’s been challenging, but also enjoyable and satisfying.
If you’ve chosen a path for which you have a genuine passion, you should not be deterred by the challenges mature students and career-changers undoubtedly face. I’m a firm believer it is never too late to make a change for the better, if you have the motivation and the courage to do so.