A Guide to Environmental Certifications
The National Registry of Environmental Professionals®® (NREPSM) has been certifying professionals in the environmental industry since 1987. We offer a variety of environmental certifications that help environmental professionals advance in their careers and be recognized for their highly specific and specialized skills. In this environmental certifications guide, we’ll describe what an environmental certification is, who it can benefit, the tangible advantages it provides, and common careers that will become open to you if you’re certified.
What is an Environmental Certification?
An Environmental Certification is an excellent way to stand out from the crowd in the environmental industry. Entry level environmental certifications and advanced certifications alike show that you are qualified and current in your profession and constantly learning the latest information and skills needed to succeed.
The National Registry of Environmental Professionals® (NREPSM) offers credentials for qualified professionals in environmental and safety fields. The organization is recognized by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Obtaining an Environmental Certification attests to your commitment to your professional standards and to continuing education and experience in the environmental field.
Who should get an Environmental Certification?
Environmental professionals who meet all the requirements should consider becoming certified. It shows that you are qualified and knowledgeable in your field and that:
- You are up-to-date and skilled in the profession
- You are constantly learning and committed to excellence
- You are ready to meet the challenges of the profession
- Your skills are validated and on par with the top of your field
- Management can be confident in your abilities and level of professional expertise
An Environmental Certification separates you from your peers and helps you rise in your profession, showing your leadership in energy and environmental sectors. If you desire to advance in your field, an environmental sustainability certification or similar certification can show your seriousness and connect you with an accomplished group of professionals.
Benefits of an Environmental Certification
Your environmental certifications speak to your qualifications to manage tasks related to protecting and preserving the environment. In addition to the prestige they add to your resume, sustainability certifications for individuals and green business certification programs provide the following benefits:
- Listing in the NREPSM’s Official Registry of Environmental Professionals
- Certify your qualifications and expertise to clients, employers, and governmental agencies
- Provide recognition of your achievements and opportunities for career advancements
- Recognition of your environmental knowledge and experience by the US Military, DOE, EPA, and individual states
- Provide opportunities for participation in credential development, national conferences, environmental education programs, and local and regional affiliated organizations
The Environmental Certifications Offered by NREPSM
While NREPSM does not offer free environmental certifications, we provide a variety of certification types for those new to the field and accomplished veterans. NREPSM offers first time environmental certifications in:
- Registered Environmental Manager
- Registered Environmental Professional®
- Certified Environmental and Safety Compliance Officer®
- Registered Environmental Property AssessorSM
- Certified Environmental AuditorSM
Additional certifications include:
- Associate Environmental Professional
- Certified Environmental Scientist
- Certified Environmental Storm Water Compliance Professional
- Certified Environmental and Safety Financial Officer
- Certified Environmental and Safety Logistics Officer
- Certified Environmental Systems Manager
- Certified Indoor Air Quality Manager
- Certified Natural Resources Professional
- Certified Refrigerant Compliance Manager
- Certified Waste Management Professional
- Mold Awareness Specialist
- Registered Environmental Laboratory Technologist
The Process of Getting Certified
Each certification has its own set of qualifications that must be met. In general terms, sustainability certification programs and specialized accreditations alike will both require you to have the necessary educational degrees and experience to apply. To start your application, you pay the application fee and exam fee. You must pass the exam, if required, to become certified. For some certifications, a study guide is available and highly recommended. Other certifications have a workshop, and still others don’t require an exam at all.
Once you have shown that you have the education and expertise required, have passed the exam, met any other qualification requirements, and paid your fees, you will become certified.
Common Careers Pursued by Certificate Holders
One of the great advantages of completing sustainability certification courses and receiving an NREPSM certification is that it prepares you for a wide variety of fields. In fact, a single certification can provide valuable insight into responsibilities related to multiple professions. Below we will list a number of different careers that certificate holders typically pursue. Please note that this list isn’t exhaustive!
Air Quality Engineer. Maintaining high air quality in industrial sites or similar areas helps both the environment and people. In addition to addressing air quality at working sites, air quality engineers also work on restoring contaminated areas. Air quality engineers may pursue a Certified Indoor Air Quality Manager certification.
Conservation Scientists. A conservation scientist often ends up working in outdoor contexts, helping governmental organizations and private landowners alike meet regulatory requirements and stave off related problems. A Certified Natural Resources Professional certification can help these credentialed individuals maintain soil quality and protect at-risk habitats.
Forest and Conservation Technician. A narrower specialty than that of a conservation scientist, a forest and conservation technician specifically addresses forestry and related resources. Certification by the Society of American Foresters can bolster job seekers’ prospects, as can an NREPSM Certified Natural Resources Professional certification.
Environmental Consultant. Environmental consultants use their generalized skill sets to address an equally broad set of issues, such as identifying environmental contamination, finding the source of various contaminants, completing environmental audits, implementing health and safety measures, addressing regulatory issues, and consulting about green building initiatives. A Registered Environmental Manager certification is appropriate for environmental consultants.
Environmental Health & Safety Specialist. An environmental health & safety specialist focuses on adherence to regulations for a number of different fields. These professionals may find themselves working to ensure the cleanliness of water, milk, and various food-production sectors. They may also ensure the proper disposal of different kinds of hazardous waste. The exact kind of certification that these specialists should seek depend on their field of focus, but common certifications include Registered Environmental Professional®, Certified Environmental Storm Water Compliance Professional, and Certified Waste Management Professional.
Environmental Project Manager. This type of position deals primarily with implementing goals set by private companies, including corporate sustainability initiatives and hiring key environment-related personnel. A Registered Environmental Professional® certification is appropriate for environmental project managers.
Chief Sustainability Officer. While some organizations offer corporate sustainability certifications, we believe there’s no better investment a company can make in becoming environmentally friendly than people. Becoming a chief sustainability officer requires years of professional commitment and often multiple advanced certifications.
Recertification Process for Environmental Certifications
Recertification also varies depending on the individual certification area. In general, you must meet the requirements for recertification, including:
- Update your information in the Registry
- Completing 15 Continuing Education (CEU) or community environmental service hours
- Keeping records of your completed requirements (keep records for 2 years)
- Submitting a Summary of Activities form and fee, postmarked by the certification expiration date
A recertification handbook is available online to help you through the process.