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Careers in Environmental Administration

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What is “environmental administration?”

Simply put, environmental administration is helping to run an environmental organization. Governmental and nonprofit agencies that focus on environmental issues need insightful and dynamic leaders who can make their organization effective.

What do environmental administrators do?

Responsibilities can include:

  • develop and implement the organization’s mission and policies
  • cultivate productive employee relations
  • organize meetings
  • create and implement of office procedures
  • recruit and supervise of support staff
  • mediate office conflicts
  • administer budgets

What types of organizations hire for environmental administration?

All types:

  • Nonprofit Organizations
  • Governmental Agencies
  • Private Corporations

What does it take to become effective in environmental communication?


Broad, interdisciplinary knowledge of environmental issues.

Knowledge of economic, social, and political forces that impact the environment.

Familiarity with existing environmental laws and policies, and an understanding of what types of new laws and policies are possible.


Strategic planning: ability to see what is possible and how it can be accomplished.

Organizational efficiency: the ability to get the right work done in the right way.

Interpersonal skills, such as conflict resolution, negotiation, and community building.

Public speaking: the ability to articulate your views efficiently and positively in various formats, including a speech, a panel, a debate, and group discussion.

Writing skills: effective and efficient writing.

Computer skills: not only word-processing but also spread sheets (e.g. Excel) and computer presentations (e.g. PowerPoint) and databases.

Often requires mathematical skills in order to deal with finances.


Internships with organizations dealing with politics or the environment.

Work experience in various types of organizations. This could be volunteer work or summer work in the field.

Professional experience: some masters programs expect students to have professional job experience related to environmental policy after graduation and before entering a masters program.


  • Ability to take leadership in getting work done, and working collaboratively when that is called for.
  • Ability to deal with complexity and ambiguity, including a recognition of different viewpoints.
  • Ability to deal constructively with those who views you disagree with.
  • Ability to combine idealism with practicality and a recognition of the constraints situations might have.
  • A strong commitment to the well-being of the environment, including a strong desire to work against those who are destructive of nature.

So what should I do while I’m in college?

Major or minor in Environmental Studies.

Also major in a department that challenges you to think critically, do research, and write effectively, and solve practical problems. -Examples include Economics, Business, and Political Science.

Even if you don’t major in Economics or Business, it is advisable to take courses in those departments that are particularly relevant to environmental administration. Take statistics, which will enable you to make and evaluate statistical arguments.

Get as much experience as possible working in an organization through summer work, internships, and volunteering.

Cultivate the skills and qualities listed above.

Should I get a graduate degree?

With substantial experience, the right academic background, and the skills and qualities mentioned above, you will be valuable to many organizations. However, if you want to take on leadership roles and have more flexibility in your career, a masters degree is very helpful. The most common degrees that are valued by environmental organizations are Master of Public Administration, Master of Business Administration, Law Degree, and Master of Public Policy.

What are some examples of actual job listings in environmental administration?

Office Administrator

Description: Office Administrator for its San Francisco office. Our staff includes lawyers, scientists, policy analysts and support staff working to protect the environment and public health through advocacy and education from our offices in New York, Washington DC, San Francisco and Santa Monica. The Office Administrator is responsible for the general management and efficient operation of our 50+person office. We are seeking an individual with excellent management and supervisory skills who supports and enjoys consensus-based decision-making, and who will take a flexible, innovative approach to resolving issues. The ideal candidate will be familiar with the various functions of human resources, office administration, and facilities management. We seek applicants with sound judgment and outstanding interpersonal skills. The Office Administrator has a dual reporting relationship to both Director of Facilities and Director of Human Resources.

Responsibilities: Creation and implementation of office procedures; recruitment and supervision of support staff; communication and implementation of institutional policies; comprehensive orientation of new hires; employee relations; mediation of office conflicts; management of office services; procurement of equipment and supplies, selection of vendors and approval of payment due to vendors; processing, review and approval of invoices and travel reimbursement requests; administration and reconciliation of petty cash checking account; maintenance of time records; organization of office events and meetings; space management; participation in planning and managing institutional projects; development and execution of annual administrative plan and budget and acting as liaison to other offices. Timely completion and attention to detail are expected in carrying out these tasks, as is the ability to make decisions and assess situations with the "big picture" in mind. The Office Administrator must work well under pressure and respond to daily office concerns in a calm and professional manner.

Qualifications: Outstanding interpersonal, communication and organizational skills. Must have the desire and ability to provide excellent customer service to office staff. Must like to work collaboratively, manage a heavy and diverse workload and independently execute duties. Minimum of 5 years office management and human resources experience. College degree in non-profit management, business administration and/or human resources management preferred. Computer literacy essential; familiarity with spreadsheets, databases and electronic communication required. Interest in environmental and/or social issues a plus. Salary is based upon a nonprofit scale and is commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits and a pleasant working environment.

Vice President, Operations

Description: We are a fast-growing international environmental conservation organization, located in Arlington, VA, seeks an individual to manage all internal operations. Candidates will be dynamic, hands-on professionals with proven problem solving, strategic planning and senior level management experience. VP Operations will be a leader for foundational systems and processes, as well as an internal change agent who continuously plans and manages institutional improvements. Managing a small staff of five, the VP will: oversee the coordination among finance, program, communication, administration, and development as they plan and execute annual work plans and coordinate management of relationships with key partners, donors, and trustees; ensure sound and strategic financial management throughout the organization, ranging from grant and project management to organizational financial reporting -- budget compliance, cash flow (restricted vs. unrestricted), income statement, balance statement, gap analysis; develop and maintain the systems we need to hire talented people, continuously improve their skills, and ensure their commitment to the organization's values and mission; lead the annual budgeting process by developing a clear understanding of institutional and programmatic costs, and managing a system for annual work planning and budgeting; ensure the organizational structure and staffing strategies support program evolution and effectiveness in the field; and oversee development and maintenance of a strategic information system.

Qualifications: Masters degree, 7-10 years relevant experience; and at least 3 yrs in a senior management role within a growing, changing institution. The ideal candidate will be an emotionally intelligent team player who can balance strategic planning with hands-on implementation.

Project Administrator

Description: Support the Foundation's conservation by administering grants and contracts from project proposal to project closure.

Qualifications: Bachelor's degree; two years experience in project and contract administration; strong interpersonal skills; strong analytical skills and computer proficiency.

Compensation: Commensurate with experience.

Assistant Director - Tiger Program

Description: This individual will have significant, programmatic, communications, and managerial responsibilities for the Tiger Program.

Qualifications: Minimum bachelor's degree; minimum two to five years experience in grant management and/or conservation field; computer proficiency, including databases, spreadsheets, word processing, and graphics; knowledge of international conservation issues and experience with cultural and conservation issues in Asia.

Compensation: Commensurate with experience.

Project Coordinator

Background: Two organizations: a 30 year old not for profit agriculture advocacy organization in Illinois, and a Minnesota based wind energy advocacy and technical support organization, are collaborating to increase interest in renewable energy in Illinois. Since 1995, we have worked to help rural landowners, community leaders, and elected officials understand the value of their wind resource and the economic opportunities offered by wind energy development.

Duties: The successful candidate will work to develop and implement a new outreach and education program in Illinois.
The workplan will include producing written materials, coordinating distribution of materials, contributing to periodic newsletters, integrating wind energy into existing outreach programs conducted in Illinois as well as initiate new contacts through presentations at local, state and regional wind energy meetings.
Reaching out to individuals, rural communities, and far/agriculture groups on wind energy technology, public policy on renewable energy, incentives for wind energy, and wind development options for landowners.

The candidate should expect to travel to targeted areas of potential wind energy projects in Illinois including overnight trips.
Approximately sixty days per year will be engaged in travel in Illinois.

The candidate will work very closely to build outreach approaches, develop programs and implement multi-state coordination of a wind energy network, that will be used in areas throughout the Midwest including Minnesota, Illinois and Dakotas.

Qualifications: The successful candidate will demonstrate skill and experience in written and oral communications with a wide variety of personalities that range from landowners to state legislators. Must be comfortable with answering questions one on one and in small groups with farmers and rural residents as well as making presentations and introductions at large public meetings. Must possess a background in wind energy or related field or demonstrate the capacity to learn on the job. In addition, experience or knowledge of government procedures in small rural communities would be useful.

Terms: Compensation This is a grant funded one-year program with potential for renewal or expansion. Salary range is $25,000 to $32,500 commensurate with experience; health and travel expenses paid. Vacation plan included.

Regional Organizer

Description: We are seeking an effective relationship builder to achieve conservation victories on the local, state, and regional level by supporting affiliates and like-minded organizations in their work to save important natural resources. Organizer will influence local and regional opinion leaders and mobilize a grassroots network to advocate conservation objectives. Responsible for building strategic partnerships and developing volunteer leadership.

Qualifications: Minimum qualifications: Bachelor’s degree. Five years experience in one or more of the following: grassroots organizing; conservation advocacy; lobbying for state, local or federal legislation; or nonprofit organizational development and fundraising. Exceptional communication skills; team player; Windows computer proficiency; and strategic thinker. Position involves 50% travel.

Terms: Excellent benefits package. Salary: $40-50K range. Qualified candidates send cover letter and resume w/salary requirements.

Program Director at a nature center

Responsibilities: Program Management: Plan, design, schedule, coordinate, and evaluate educational programs and special events. Develop and lead natural history programs and history programs for school children and the general public. Market programs through brochures, newsletter and other promotional materials.
Volunteer Coordinator: Recruit, train and supervise interns and volunteers. Support and encourage volunteers in achieving selected organizational goals and objectives.
Qualifications: Ability to work with minimal supervision, initiate tasks/projects, and work well both independently and with others. Excellent writing and oral communication skills; excellent organizational skills, with an eye for details. Strong interpersonal skills essential. Excellent computer skills. Willingness to work flexible hours. Commitment to organizational mission, desire to participate in all aspects of organizational growth and program development.

Administrative Coordinator

Background: Nonprofit peace and environmental organization is seeking an Administrative Coordinator with experience or strong interest in the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Responsibilities: Duties include preparing content for nuclear abolition website distribution, some research on nuclear issues, coordinating Working Groups and Special Committees, composing correspondence, maintaining files and database, administrative assistance to President, managing student interns, liaison with other peace organizations worldwide, and special projects, as necessary.

Qualifications: We are seeking a highly motivated, organized individual who has excellent outreach, writing, and communication skills. Knowledge of Filemaker Pro desirable.

Terms: Salary commensurate with experience. Medical benefits.

Environmental/Community Research Associate (paid internship)

Description: The Associate will provide support to environmental and community based projects in partnership with foundation program officers. Internship responsibilities include database management and/or matrix development, report writing, research and creating visuals (PowerPoint or other medium).

Responsibilities: The Associate will track, follow-up and provide support for the following types of projects:

  • Environmental: Various grants in the field of sustainable forestry and fisheries; Land restoration in Baja Sur, Mexico.
  • Community: Program with an environmental or holistic health emphasis for at-risk youth.
  • Marketing and budgeting for an Intergenerational day care facility.
  • Administrative: Quarterly newsletter preparation for Trustees; Design and execution of the foundation’s Annual Report

Qualifications: This 26 week (6 month) project will take place in Mt. Kisco, NY. Eligible applicants must be able to commute and/or live in Mt. Kisco or surrounding area - no housing, or housing stipend, will be provided. Candidates must also have their own car and valid driver's license. Minimum: College senior. Optimum: MA/MS or JD candidate. Must have good communication skills, and interest in environmental education, good problem solving skills and business skills. Being self-motivated with an attention to detail and a professional attitude are very important – integrity and discretion are necessary. Fluency in Spanish is a plus.

Terms: Full-time; 26 Weeks; $14 an hour

Deputy Director, Global Forest Program

Description: World Wildlife Fund (WWF), leading international efforts to conserve life on earth, seeks a successful Deputy Director for the Global Forests Program.

Responsibilities: Deputy Director provides leadership and oversight to program management, communications, and fundraising functions and serves as key facilitator for targeted activities for internal and external stakeholders.

Qualifications: Innovative and informed decision maker with superb communication and strong organizational, negotiation and problem-solving skills required. Interested candidates should demonstrate success in developing and managing complex projects or programs in conservation, and working effectively with a broad array of international and US staff and stakeholders. Some knowledge of forestry conservation preferred.

by linnm37 — last modified Oct 22, 2012 04:32 PM
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