Protecting the environment continues to be an important function of both private industry and local, state and federal governments. A knowledgeable environmental project manager combines organizational management skills with expertise on environmental issues and regulations to help businesses prevent or repair damage to the land, air and water. A rewarding career as an environmental project manager can begin by enrolling in an MBA program with a specialization in Project Management.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts employment of natural sciences managers, including environmental project managers, will grow steadily in coming years. Job prospects should be favorable as the environmental sciences sector continues its rapid growth. Job seekers with strong business management skills, experience and leadership qualities should have an advantage.
Environmental Project Manager Job Duties
The environmental project manager (PM) is responsible for a varied number of duties throughout the work day. Typically, they oversee activities and interaction with environmental regulatory agencies; specific duties depend on the industry. For example, when employed by a contractor, the environmental PM manages permitting, compliance and mitigation related to construction projects. Working for an environmental consulting firm might entail monitoring well drillers, utility locators or refinery workers.
Specific tasks of an environmental project manager might include preparing reports and work plans, performing site investigations, and collecting, processing and evaluating data. These management professionals establish project needs and monitor work in progress to ensure final deliverables adhere to requirements. They often work with subcontractors during the scope of a project to ensure compliance to the plan. Negotiating changes to the scope of work is another vital function of the environmental PM.
Additional environmental project manager duties include interpreting permits and other environmental documents, as well as developing compliance assurance plans and inspection procedures. They often have expertise regarding permits and regulations; submitting documents properly is vital to obtaining project approval.
Environmental PMs consult with internal and external scientists, engineers and regulators to plan projects. Other daily job duties might include: preparing project proposals and budgets; directing necessary research; communicating with management regarding project status; and hiring necessary staff to meet specified project time frames.
An environmental project manager typically works from an office; however, they may spend a great deal of time in the field. A 40-hour week is standard. Travel to remote offices, vendor locations or production faculties may be required.
Salary Potential for Environmental Project Managers
According to national salary data on PayScale.com, as of January 2011, environmental project managers had a median total income of about $68,601 per year, with those in the 25th to 75th percentile earning between $52,207 and $84,996 in total pay.
PayScale.com data also indicated that environmental project managers with a master’s degree can earn significantly more than those with only a bachelor’s degree. In fact, based on 75th percentile salary figures, earning an MBA boosted salaries to $100,944 per year, while those with a BS in Environmental Science earned $67,336 per year – a differential of over 49%!
Top salaries generally go to those with the advanced education and experience employers need to remain competitive as regulations, technology and the global business environment continue to change.
Education and Training
Some environmental project manager positions require a bachelor’s degree; other employers look for extensive experience or advanced education. Many top employers seek business skills as well –therefore, they prefer candidates with a master’s degree.
Management professionals seeking to expand their careers and apply for environmental project manager positions can prepare by enrolling in an MBA program with a specialization in Project Management. Coursework typically includes strategic project management, organizational behavior, cases in applied project management and project tools and techniques.
Employers can be confident that professionals who have earned an MBA with a specialization in Project Management are able to:
- Apply a process-based approach to achieving organizational goals.
- Determine the appropriate tools and techniques for each phase of the project management lifecycle.
- Plan and manage projects from development to closing.
- Strategize and implement at the corporate level.
- Leverage advanced knowledge and skills to succeed as an environmental project manager.
Considering an Environmental Project Manager Career?
Great communication skills, a professional manner and multi-tasking ability are three necessary attributes to be a successful environmental project manager. In addition, leadership skills, attention to detail and strong business knowledge will serve you well. If this in-demand career sounds like a good match for you, consider enrolling in an MBA with a specialization in Project Management program. You’ll not only boost your chances of landing a great job, but you’ll also give your earnings potential a lift!