Start your career in the environment sector2023-01-10T15:52:35+00:00

Start your career in the environment sector

Where to begin 

Welcome to the environment sector! It’s so exciting that you’re interested in building your career within such an important industry, where you will be able to use your skills to make our planet a better place to live for all of its inhabitants.

But where to start? We realise that it can be hard, from the outside, to understand what opportunities are available in the environment sector; what qualifications, skills, and experience you might need; and where you can go to add things to your CV which will get you your first role. It might even be hard to understand exactly what some of the organisations advertising positions actually do, so we’ve put together some information to help you navigate your journey into a career in the environment sector.

Answering your questions

Environment sector: What do we do?2023-01-10T14:41:51+00:00

What is the environment sector? The environment sector is concerned with protecting the natural environment and mitigating the negative impacts of human society on the environment, for the benefit of people, wildlife, and natural systems. People who work in the environment sector may be employed by charitable organisations, companies providing environmental services or services to the environment sector, governments, or councils, or they could work for themselves (also called being self-employed).

Charitable organisations

Charities operate for the greater good of society without making a profit (all the money they raise has to go towards achieving their aims). Charities are sometimes called not-for-profit organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or just organisations, though in order to be called a charity in the UK, an organisation needs to be registered with the Charity Commission.

Charities can vary in size from Big International Non-Governmental Organisations (BINGOs), including well-known organisations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which has an income of over £80million and over 400 employees, to organisations run between a small group of trustees, volunteers, and/or staff. There are pros and cons to organisations across the size spectrum that include job security, different paths for career development, bureaucracy, and day-to-day variety, and some people may naturally prefer and be better suited to organisations of particular sizes.

Examples of charities working in the UK environmental sector include:

  • Chester Zoo: A large organisation (~500 employees, >200 volunteers) which runs Chester Zoo, partly to educate the public about wildlife and conservation, partly to run captive conservation programmes and research, and to raise funds for conservation projects.
  • ShareAction: A medium-sized organisation (49 employees) specialising in improving the environmental impact of the financial services industry by working with investors, policymakers, and individuals.
  • Young Climate Warriors: A small organisation (5 trustees) dedicated to the education of children and young people in climate change and promoting the protection of our environment.

The difference between a charity and a foundation

There is also a subtle difference between a charity and a foundation. A foundation is a type of charity usually created because there is a single source of funding which a person or group of people would like to put to charitable use, whereas most charities depend on funds from multiple sources (for example, from the general public or a range of different donors) and will invest more of their efforts towards fundraising to ensure they can continue to do their work.

An example of a foundation is the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, which aims to improve our natural world, secure a fairer future, and strengt