Read the advice of Mr. Radek Jareš, an analyst at ATEM, an environmental consultancy based in Prague, in Czech Republic.
ATEM is a privately-owned environmental consulting company, providing environmental services for its clients, which are mainly business and state authorities. It employs up to 15 environmental professionals, other graduated employees and office staff. Although the professionals are specialized in different fields, at the same time everyone needs to have a perfect understanding of the environment as a whole system.
Radek Jareš is one of the senior analysts in the company’s team. His background is in environmental protection and natural science.
In addition to various environmental analysis, ATEM also conducts standard Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs). When any project exceeds law-given criteria or it has applied for funds from the European Union, the EIA process is required. Czech law requires that this analysis is conducted by a person holding a special EIA authorisation.
“The study is usually carried out by several experts while directed by the project manager. In our consultancy, we have several EIA-authorised people and they are usually the ones who are project leaders. If you hold an EIA authorisation, it proves your experience and knowledge in environmental sciences, environmental regulation, and technologies which have an impact on the environment and people’s health. It also proves that you know how to conduct EIAs.”
But… the process of getting the EIA certificate is not easy.
In the Czech Republic, the certificate is granted by the Ministry of Environment, by the EIA department. Further details regarding the authorisation procedure can be found on the website of the Czech Environmental Information Agency (CENIA).
- First of all, you need an environmental background and a few years of working experience in this field.
- You send your application to the Ministry of Environment and when it’s accepted, the commission makes a plan for when the exams will be administered.
- It might take several months before the exams take place as the commission waits until there are at least 10 candidates to organise them.
- The exam includes both written and oral portions focused on environmental regulation and protection, particular technologies and their impacts on the environment.
- You can apply for Czech EIA authorisation if you are a foreigner as well; however, you need a good knowledge of the language, as the exams are all in Czech.
How to prepare for the EIA exams?
“There are many materials on EIA available, also seminars and live courses, which can certainly be very helpful,” encourages Mr. Jareš, “However, it would be difficult to learn it solely from books and theory, as this knowledge is very much tied up in practical experience. Usually people work for few months or years in their chosen environmental consultancies, gain knowledge under the supervision of person who has already been authorised and then eventually they start their own authorisation procedure.”
It may be a company itself who will encourage an employee to undertake the authorisation process and they may even cover the cost of the exams. It is also in their interest to have authorised EIA specialists. For example, ATEM gives its employees part of the working time for the necessary studies and participates on the costs of the first exam attempts.
How to become an analyst in an environmental consultancy?
It is important to have an interdisciplinary approach – a broad overview within the environmental field. On the other hand, a specialization may be an advantage as well. As having practical experience in environmental expertise is big advantage, it is helpful to complete an internship or some practical experience under the guidance of a university.
ATEM has quite a stable team and new vacancies do not appear too often. However, sometimes they do, and then candidates with experience are preferred. Furthermore, they consider applications for internships, so why not give it a try? Usually, after several working days the company has a pretty good idea of whether or not a continuing partnership with the candidate will be feasible or not.
Environmental expertise requires basic mathematical skills like knowledge of units and ability to work with them. Knowledge of Excel helps a lot, as well as English, mainly for the purpose of using foreign-written sources. And last but not least: analyses always require a sense of foresight, that is, the ability to imagine “what would happen if …”.
On average, about 10-20% of work is carried out in the field. It depends on one’s specialization – if you are responsible for mathematical models, you spend almost all of your time in the office. If you conduct botanical or zoological research you spend much more time outside. The work is flexible and tends to come in waves. Suddenly, the company may take on several clients and orders all at once, all of which have tight deadlines. Another month there might be more free time. Every day brings something new – new projects require new knowledge. “But the best thing about my work is that I really enjoy it” summarises Mr. Jareš “I am doing what I studied and it’s what I’ve always wanted to do.”
More about ATEM: www.atem.cz
More environmental consultancies: ecojobs.cz/consultancies (directory in progress)
More about becoming EIA autorised in Czech Republic: http://www.cenia.cz/web/www/web-pub2.nsf/$pid/MZPMSFGRIJOU
More about EIA: http://www.cenia.cz/web/www/web-pub2.nsf/$pid/MZPMSFGRIBRY
Jobs in EIA: www.ecojobs.cz/tag/eia/