Dec 20, 2023

Advice for Choosing an Environmental Degree



It’s great to see that prospective students are thinking about environmental degrees.  A client asked for some advice on behalf of his son who is passionate about zoology but doesn’t see many career options. We shared our thoughts:

Great that your son is so enthused about the natural world AND thinking of how to make a career of it. Work for ecologists/zoologists does seem limited so again he is thinking along the right lines. I think sustainability is here to stay – currently being driven by investors’ ESG considerations, and I hope soon by regulation. Not to mention the increasing public demand for environmental protection/enhancement.

Courses which contain environmental science are good. I’m surprised some courses still mention CSR – that’s beginning to be old-hat now, but perhaps Universities need to catch up a bit!

Anyway, here’s where we think sustainability is going:

  • Science – knowing the science is important – there are still plenty of nay-sayers out there, so being clear on the science of carbon, biodiversity etc. is crucial.
  • Data – more and more of our work is about data collection and crunching – some element of data analysis would be good – we collect data on thousands of houses for net zero planning – but we are also now doing trials on satellite data processing for biodiversity calcs (stay tuned for more on this) – data and data management I think is crucial for the future.
  • Professionalism – environmentalism is now a profession and it looks like your son has this in mind. IEMA is the biggest professional body representing environmental professionals and it is possible to become Chartered through IEMA. Perhaps your son would like to check his degree choices to make sure they are recognised by IEMA – that will smooth his way on the professional path. IEMA also have a green skills initiative which your son may want to look at:
  • Passion – having a passion about your topic I think is key to a successful career (and a happy life!) – maybe your son can find a course that has a module on biodiversity/zoology or at least one where he can do a dissertation combing the points above with biodiversity.
  • Social – I think there is increasing recognition that we should transform our societies explicitly for the benefit of our wellbeing and is a part of sustainability (think the “S” part of ESG, levelling up, the UN SDG’s etc.). Sadly the professionalism in this area is not as advanced as it could be. There is some good science about this and I think it is an emerging field. IEMA seems to be making noises on it so watch this space. I don’t think universities will have much on this yet, so your son may have to make the connections himself. As Christmas is coming you may like to buy him my book “Happiness by numbers” which is about the science of wellbeing measurement and how to include environmental protection in those measures!  It’s available from all good book shops and here’s a blog on the book:


If you would like advice on your organisations sustainability, please be in touch.


[1] Photo by Jakob Rosen on Unsplash


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