If you were to describe the ideal environmental professional today, what would you include? What skills or abilities would a successful green employee have?
Many answers to this question would stress the importance of possessing a multidisciplinary skill set. As an inherent feature of the sector, environmental workers are expected to act as integrators, connecting with information and people across diverse occupational areas to arrive at innovative sustainability solutions.
What makes environmental work particularly unique is the breadth of skill categories in which its workers demonstrate expertise, as seen in the diagram below:
In a recent survey, several of these occupational skill categories were particularly common. These included environmental health and safety (40%), waste management (28%), site assessment and reclamation (20%), and communications and public awareness (19%).
This strong need for multidisciplinary green workers reflects both the diversity of environmental occupations as well as the fact that the majority of green employees work in small to medium size companies. Nearly half (47%) of all environmental employees work at establishments that have less than 20 staff, or are self-employed. In order to work effectively on a small team or alone, environmental professionals frequently must develop expertise in one or more technical areas, while also supplementing this specific expertise with competence in more general, transferable skills.
What skills do you believe are the most essential to working in the environmental sector? Do they reflect diverse categories?