What is an Environmental Accountant?

An environmental accountant plays a critical role within an organization. Their roles have even become more important with the increasing need for environmental awareness in the corporate world. Responsibilities range from making environmental policies to calculating how much an organization will spend in implementing such policies and complying with regulations.

Key Responsibilities of Environmental Accountants

Environmental accountants work with the management to determine the cost an organization will incur regarding environmental compliance. Apart from evaluating the cost of compliance, they use their accounting skills to help save the environment itself. They do this by recommending alternative chemicals, processes or product designs.

Environmental accountants may be responsible for the sale of pollution licenses and certification of clean technologies. They may also help the organization develop new ways of generating revenues, such as the sale of waste products. They also develop and monitor the organization’s environmental management system (EMS). They use this system to implement and review customized environmental and safety best practices in the organization.

Environmental accountants may perform three accounting duties. These include managerial accounting, financial accounting and national accounting. Managerial accounting is an internal form of accounting that helps the organization’s management make purchasing, investment and production decisions. Financial accounting mainly deals with external reporting. It reports on an organization’s environmental liabilities and costs to the shareholders. National accounting is mainly for a country’s natural resources and their economic flows and costs.

Top Employers of Environmental Accountants

Environmental accountants may work in financial or management accounting positions in private organizations. A majority of job positions are available in industries that use raw materials from natural resources. This includes oil, mining, manufacturing, automotive and chemical industries. Some environmental accountants work with governmental institutions such as the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Others work for international corporations such as the United Nations and World Health Organization. Most environmental accountants work full time in offices.

How to Become an Environmental Accountant

Anyone who wants to become an environmental accountant must have at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting. You must also have earned the relevant credentials such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Certified Financial Analyst (CFA). Unfortunately, very few colleges and universities have environmental accounting degree programs. Many companies accept those who have majored in accounting with a concentration in environmental topics.

Apart from education, you must be up-to-date with both national and local regulations relative to pollution and greenhouse gases. Excellent communication and analytical skills are also necessary for success in this field. You must also be able to work in a team consisting of experts from various fields. This may include other accountants, environmental lawyers and scientists.

Environmental Accountant Salary

Environmental accountants work like any other accountant, except that they specialize in calculating environmental costs. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, environmental accountants earn an average salary of $68,150 per year. This translates to $32.76 per hour, which is quite impressive.

Career Outlook

Environmental protection is a hot topic in the US. The government and other stakeholders have put in place various measures to make companies comply with environmental regulations. For this reason, the demand for environmental accountants is expected to increase significantly. The Bureau of Labor statistics projects the employment rate to grow between 8 and 14 percent in the next 10 years.

Related Resource: How Do You Become an International Accountant?

A career in environmental accounting is personally and professionally profitable. All you need is the right education and a positive attitude to succeed as an environmental accountant.