Explore environmental careers.
An environmental audit is a detailed analysis of an organization’s products and processes that evaluates its performance from an environmental perspective. Environmental auditors can conduct two different types of audits: a compliance audit measures if a business is meeting internal and external environmental guidelines and legislation, and a management performance audit measures if a business is meeting the criteria for management systems. Environmental auditors are involved in a variety of projects, but all share a commitment to the conservation and protection of the environment.
At a glanceImagine you are standing on the edge of a large pond of industrial wastewater, watching carefully as a lab technician lowers a bottle to the water to take a grab sample. You are an environmental auditor and right now you are in the middle of a compliance audit for a large manufacturing plant. Compliance with environmental regulations is a requirement of the plant's operating licence, so the plant must periodically submit to an environmental audit, where a team of auditors is brought in to evaluate operations and make sure the plant is following all applicable laws and regulations. That's exactly what you and your team are doing this week: you are at the plant site reviewing processes and observing workers to determine if the plant is in compliance with the necessary environmental regulations. As the lead environmental auditor for this team, you coordinate the many different aspects of the audit to ensure results are complete and accurate. When you arrived at the site, you assigned your team members to cover specific areas. For example, you have one person reviewing air emissions while another concentrates on chemical storage and handling. You have assigned yourself the role of evaluating the plant's waste management. You start with sampling protocols, checking that Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for collecting and handling samples are up-to-date and being followed. This includes interviewing staff and observing their activities to confirm they have the proper training and are following procedures. You also look at records of the waste itself, comparing lab test results to established criteria to make certain contaminants are kept below the legal limit. Next, you look at how the plant is disposing of its waste, for example that it is stored in proper containers or facilities or, in the case of treated effluent, that it is discharged to the proper environment at the proper dosage. Once all team members have completed their evaluations, you will put them together and compare the data to existing standards and criteria to determine if the plant is in compliance with the necessary environmental regulations. Finally, you will prepare an audit report that will be presented and discussed with the plant's management.
Job dutiesDuties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as an environmental auditor:
- Plan projects and audit methodology and procedures.
- Conduct site visits in order to assess facilities and operational procedures.
- Conduct interviews and meetings.
- Assess compliance with environmental regulations and guidelines.
- Research environmental regulations and review publications for additional information relevant to environmental auditing.
- Analyze audit documentation and data and prepare a report of audit findings.
- Present audit findings to clients.
- Contribute to the generation of recommendations to correct non-conformance or improve environmental performance.
- Contribute to the formulation of an action plan to implement recommended changes based on audit findings.
Work environmentEnvironmental auditors work in a variety of locations, including: In the office:
- Doing paperwork, analyzing data, and preparing audit reports
- Communicating on the phone and in meetings with clients, stakeholders, and government departments, and presenting audit findings and recommendations to clients
- Reviewing documentation, policies, procedures, and reports
- Researching regulations and audit information, and consulting with other auditors and professionals
- Touring and inspecting sites and conducting interviews
- Taking measurements and recording data and observations
- Compiling audit evidence and results
- Presenting audit findings to clients and stakeholders
- Checking instruments and preparing audit equipment
Where to workThere are a number of places environmental auditors can find employment. They include:
- Environmental consulting firms
- Federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal government departments
- Industrial companies
- Not-for-profit and non-governmental organizations
Education & requirementsIf you are a high school student considering a career as an environmental auditor, you should have strong marks or an interest in:
- Environmental Science
- Environmental Management
- Natural Resource Management
- Environmental Engineering
- Environmental Assessment
- EP(CEA) - Environmental Professional specialized as a Compliance, Environmental Auditor
- EP(EMSA) - Environmental Professional specialized as an Environmental Management Systems Auditor