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Insights 3 environmental jobs that are redesigning the world we live in

According to the European Union, between 2000 and 2018, employment and gross value added grew faster in the environmental economy than in the overall economy employment. It’s not just Europe that has seen this surge in environmental jobs, but green careers are cropping up in countries around the globe. The reason for this increased demand?

The planet is at a stage where demand for resources is outstripping supply and there is the need for environmental experts who can think creatively about how we can work with nature, minimise our impact, and even improve climate conditions through carbon negative initiatives. All this will ensure that the natural environment is left in a good condition for future generations.

Here are three environmental jobs that are redesigning the world we live in for the better:

image of a crane moving stones


Humans, animals and plants all rely on water more than any other natural resource. It’s needed for drinking, growing food, sanitation and hygiene and the manufacturing of clothes and other goods.
The global water demand is expected to increase by 20-30% by 2050, so there’s a pressing need for experts who can not only ensure that the quality does not deteriorate, but also help to conserve water. 

This is where hydrogeologists come in. They study how water moves through the soil and rocks, investigating the quality of water and checking that it’s safe for its intended use. This enables them to design better solutions for water catchments, supply and flow. The role of a hydrologist has transformed over the years and water management teams are now helping to deliver innovative solutions to some of the biggest sustainability issues, like protecting water sources from pollution.

This is just one side of the job. Hydrogeologists also act as the interface between people and the water environment. They collect data from the field and GIS analysis to help other experts understand processes such as glaciation, river formation, flood risks.

Hydrogeologists work across groundwater and surface water supply projects, leading field monitoring programmes, assisting with borehole design, advising on resource optimisation and undertaking environmental assessments. They solve water resources challenges, working alongside project hydrogeologists, senior hydrogeologists, hydrologists, engineers, economists, policymakers and planners.

Environmental planner

The planet is facing several environmental challenges, including flooding, heat waves, poor air quality and loss of biodiversity. In response, governments are proposing environmental plans that will improve water and air quality and protect threatened species. The UK, as part of the Nature Recovery Network, set the target of creating and restoring 500,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitat. It is the environmental planners who act as the bridge between these governing bodies and the infrastructure industry, putting the environment at the centre of the discussion and ensuring the health and wellbeing of society.

All large-scale infrastructure projects will involve a team of planners who specialise in the environment, meaning that environmental planners will gain exposure to a variety of infrastructures, such as transit, road and highway, and power. They conduct environmental assessments and analyse building projects, reporting back to internal and external stakeholders about the perceived impact on the environment. Environmental planners are therefore involved in proposal writing and supporting business development efforts, balancing the economics with the environment and society.

Their involvement in carrying out permitting for construction means environmental planners have a vast knowledge of environmental regulations and guidelines. They use this specialist knowledge to avoid and mitigate any problems between the built environment and the natural environment. Environmental planning is therefore a prime example of how you can build a career for a sustainable future.

Environmental planners work closely with town planners and transport planners and project managers. They also coordinate with environmental specialists such as fisheries, built heritage, archaeology and terrestrial ecologists and coordinate with regulatory agencies. The job involves a great deal of collaboration, negotiation and problem-solving.

Geotechnical engineer

An English geotechnical engineer, John Burland, was the first person to solve the 800-year-old mystery of the leaning tower of Pisa, identifying a fluctuating water table as the cause of the 5.5 degrees lean.

Geotechnical engineering is a blend of physical geography and engineering. More specifically, it’s the use of knowledge of soil and rock to assess the hazards of an infrastructure project. Geotechnical engineers ensure that roads and highways, tunnels, railways, dams, towers and other large infrastructure are designed to a high quality and are built to last. 

Geotechnical engineers play an important role in civil engineering projects and are involved in all stages of the design of structures, from concept to construction. Through inspections, reviews and other studies related to the design of a project, they report back the feasibility of an engineering plan and participate in the preparation of service proposals. Their seismic analysis enables them to protect the earth’s physical environment during development projects and through the mapping of technical results, they can determine any major risks.

Participating in multidisciplinary teams, they’ll work closely with senior geotechnical engineers, chief geotechnical engineers, drainage engineers, pavement engineers, environmental consultants and civil engineers.

Help us tackle some of the most pressing environmental challenges

Founded in 1911, AtkinsRéalis has established a global standing as a respected design, engineering and project management consultancy and is recognised as a major player in the ownership of infrastructure. We’re at the forefront of the sustainability revolution, focusing not only on how we can transform our world but what we can do to improve it for the better.

We recognise that for the UK to fulfil its pledge to become Net Zero by 2050 we as a company need to think about our contribution. To do that we need talented professionals to help us tackle some of the most pressing environmental challenges. If you’re interested in an environmental job, you can view our water jobs, minerals & metallurgy jobs, or environment & geoscience jobs and submit your application.

Looking for more information on environmental jobs? Take a look at our insights into sustainability.