Careers in Energy and Environment

 

In brief

Opportunities in the energy and environmental sectors are expanding as the transition to a sustainable, circular, low-carbon economy is accelerating across the world.

The energy sector in particular is making its global transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources (e.g. solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal, and biomass).

Environmental and sustainability specialists work across the public and private sectors, be it industry, consultancies, government, international organisations, think tanks, or charities. You can focus on a variety of areas, including climate change, energy and low-carbon technologies, circular economy, biodiversity conservation, environmental impact assessment, sustainable supply chain, and corporate sustainability.

The sector is interdisciplinary and employs graduates from a range of backgrounds, with large companies offering graduate programmes and detailed careers information on their websites.

Where can you work?

  • Renewable energy – the distribution of renewable energy is expanding rapidly as technology has matured and costs have reduced dramatically. Opportunities exist across the value chain from technology providers (for example Vestas wind turbines and General Electric) to large renewable energy groups (for example Orsted and Vattenfall) and energy services groups (for example ENGIE and Bouygues Energy). The Renewable Energy Association has a member directory, searchable by technology and business activity.
  • Oil and gas – typically with global producers operating across continents, for example BP and Shell. Rigzone features a comprehensive, searchable global oil and gas company directory, and the Transition Pathway Initiative tool provides insight into how prepared these companies might be for the transition to a low carbon economy.
  • Utilities – in the UK there are six big energy suppliers, each with graduate schemes: British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, npower, Scottish Power and SSE. Which provides a useful list of smaller utility companies and alternative suppliers.
  • Environmental consultancies – typically includes divisions within management and engineering consultancies (for example ARUP and AECOM), national and local government, NGOs and smaller specialist consultancies. ENDS provides a searchable global database of over 1,000 environmental consultancies.
  • Policy and regulation – roles can be found in think tanks, research institutes, local and national government, charities, NGOs and international organisations. The Environment Agency is the largest employer of environmental professionals in the UK.
  • Conservation – typical employers include charities, national parks and local authorities. Conservation Careers provides a list of organisations and further careers advice.

What's changing in the sector?

The Paris Agreement sent a signal around the world: climate change is a serious issue that most governments are determined to address. The renewables sector is therefore seeing huge growth, and demand for sustainability and environmental roles is increasing more generally, with potential for LSE graduates to build careers across the sector.

While many positions have a technical bias at graduate level, we are seeing more diversity of roles coming into the market. The greatest growth is predicted in areas including climate change, biodiversity (nature-based solutions), circular economy, emissions management and corporate sustainability as more companies set ambitious net zero carbon goals.

Useful websites

CareerHub – showcases jobs, events and networking opportunities for LSE students

Energy and utilities

Prospects – Energy and Utilities – provides a useful overview of the sector along with links to a range of professional bodies and other sources

Energy and Utility Skills – list of members, useful for finding out which organisations and companies work in or with the energy industry

The Renewable Energy Association – showcases news, jobs and events in the renewable energy sector, also includes a member directory

Renewable UK – focuses on wind, solar and tidal energy and has a searchable global members' directory

Vault Guides – LSE subscription to guides including Energy, Oil and Gas and Alternative Energy. Scroll down to ‘Vault: Career Insider' and click on the link to log in.

Prospects – Careers in the renewable energy industry – provides an overview of the sector

Environment job boards

Environment Jobs – an interesting range of sustainability, conservation and climate change roles advertised

ACRE – market-leading sustainability and ESG recruitment agency

ENDS – Environmental Data Services is a source of environmental and sustainability intelligence and includes a searchable global database of over 1000 environmental consultancies and jobs board

LANTRA – sector skills and training organisation with career resources for the environment

Green Jobs – links to a wide range of job sites including renewables, energy and environment

The Green Directory – a searchable directory of green organisations including ethical finance and alternative energy

Eldis – jobs, volunteering and research opportunities in the environmental and development fields worldwide

Resources

The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) – a worldwide alliance of environmental and sustainability professionals. Has communities including impact assessment and climate change and energy. Student membership is £25.

EDIE – sustainability professionals' network and news board

Ethical Corporation magazine – a sustainable business news board and magazine by Reuters

Sustainability magazine – a sustainable business news board and magazine

Useful Information

Routes in

Introduction

While many of the larger energy and utility companies and government departments offer graduate schemes, many smaller, more specialised organisations will advertise on specialist websites or rely on interested applicants making a speculative approach. Building your network and connecting with relevant alumni and others in the field, e.g. through LinkedIn, can be an important way of finding out about possible openings.

If you're looking to gain experience

Large energy companies have well-established schemes including insight days, spring weeks, internship schemes and competitions. Larger management and engineering consultancies like Deloitte, AECOM, Arcadis and Environmental Resource Management (ERM) and relevant government departments also have internships and graduate schemes.

In a competitive space, relevant experience is vital to demonstrate your commitment to the environmental sector. Gain experience through volunteering, organise work shadowing and make speculative applications. Could you choose an undergraduate or master's level dissertation with a relevant focus?

Many applicants also have a relevant master's degree.

If you're early in your career

Many energy companies have graduate schemes that don't require prior knowledge or experience. However, for entry-level roles with an environmental focus you would usually be expected to have relevant experience.

Arrange to speak to current practitioners about what they do – this offers a great opportunity to find out more and to build your network. There may be opportunities for volunteering or part-time research.

If you have more experience

Specialist recruitment agencies can be useful for graduates with several years of relevant experience. For example:

ACRE – includes CSR, environment, energy and responsible investment.

Allen & York – includes international development, energy, environment and CSR.

If you're changing career

If you choose a master's degree to support your move into the environmental sector, you should also look to gain some practical experience in any areas you are interested in. Make the most of the LSE alumni network and relevant LinkedIn groups, talk to people and see how you can leverage your dissertation to undertake relevant project work.

Not sure what to do next?

LSE Careers is here to talk over your career plans with you, whether you're just starting to explore your options, or you have a clear idea of what you're aiming for. You can book a one-to-one appointment with a careers consultant on CareerHub to discuss your thoughts.

Job roles

Roles and organisations in the energy and environment field are diverse. We've outlined some of the major ones with links to where you can find more information. It's always a good idea to try and talk to someone who is already doing the job you're interested in, particularly with some of the 'newer' career areas like 'impact investing'.

While some roles are for engineers, there are a huge range of upstream and downstream commercial, business and support roles available including IT, HR, marketing, trading, procurement, finance, data management and logistics.

Energy

In the energy sector, roles have different names depending on the organisation but may include titles such as: business development analyst; commercial advisor; economist; supply analyst and finance analyst.

Environment

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