Environment and natural resources
Why choose an environmental career?

Why choose an environmental career?

Against the tide of many sectors, the career opportunities associated with environmental sustainability are growing slowly but steadily.
In the near future the utilities sector is expected to expand, based on policy decisions around renewable energy

Predictions for the Republic of Ireland state that job figures within the green economy should rise to 29,000 by 2015. In the period 2008-2010 alone around 2,000 green-related jobs were created in the Republic. This does not count over 5,000 jobs anticipated for publicly funded retrofitting programmes for built development.

A recent Forfás National Skills Bulletin for the Republic shows significant demand for highly qualified and experienced engineering, science and technical graduates specialising in the energy sector.

In the near future the utilities sector is expected to expand, based on policy decisions around renewable energy targets and a slowdown in the extraction sector. Survey figures published by Environmental Data Services (ENDS) for the UK, including Northern Ireland, predicts over 400,000 more ‘green’ jobs being generated by 2020.


There are research opportunities within all industries in the ‘green’ economy, in public, private and notfor-profit organisations. At government level both the North and Republic of Ireland have green research and development (R&D) high on the agenda, with a particular emphasis on the pooling of research expertise, the development of research alliances, the consolidation of R&D funding programmes and the development R&D strategy for the overall green and clean-tech sector. Evidence of this can be seen in the growth and expansion of centres in colleges and universities throughout Ireland, many of which are managing leading-edge research projects contributing to the development of green initiatives worldwide.

Food and retail

Consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious. Shoppers want to know whether food and other retail items, especially footwear and clothing, have been produced and distributed using sustainable practices. Graduate buyers working for ethical retailers will be expected to vet suppliers strictly in considering where to purchase goods. In terms of packaging in particular, and also in terms of the reduction, reuse and recycling of domestic electrical waste, those promoting the drive for sustainability seek to influence manufacturers to invest in sustainable production and to consider the life cycle of their product.

Food exports remain one of the greatest contributors to the Irish economy and the food and drinks industry as a whole is Ireland’s most important indigenous industry. Quality artisan food production is growing steadily. Positions as food technologists, quality control and quality assurance technicians, development chefs and food product development experts are increasingly common for food technology and culinary arts graduates.


The increase in awareness of our personal environmental impact has stimulated growth in the eco-tourism sector, offering jobs for students and graduates of all disciplines. This includes roles promoting eco-holidays and also those helping tourism and travel companies to reduce their negative impact on the planet. Other business functions As with all other careers, organisations in all areas of the environmental goods and services sector of the economy also employ graduates from all disciplines in the day-to-day operational functions such as human resource management, sales, marketing, accounting and finance and IT support.