• A Day in the Life, Part 1

  • Recently I have had several discussions with students and mentees who are interested in the activities of an environmental consultant. Understanding the daily tasks and business undertakings related to a potential career in environmental geoscience or engineering, is an important part of evaluating one’s future. Based on my personal experiences, and supplemented by those of my colleagues, here is a general summary of a ‘day in the life’ (more like a week or two of work) for a variety of technical and professional disciplines in the environmental field.

    Environmental Technician/Technologist

    • Arrange utility locates for subsurface investigation
    • Conduct research for Phase 1 ESA (air photos, historical information)
    • Order ERIS reports and Freedom of Information requests for Phase 1 ESA
    • Conduct Phase 1 ESA site inspections
    • Prepare Phase 1 ESA reports for less complex sites
    • Collect & screen soil samples for Phase 2 ESA
    • Sample review, care & management
    • Develop, measure and sample ground water monitoring wells
    • Prepare health and safety plans
    • Equipment calibration & maintenance
    • ACAD drafting of borehole logs and Site Plans


    Senior Environmental Geoscientist/Engineer

    • Management duties (review time sheets, budgets, invoicing)
    • Sales calls, proposals, client management & meetings
    • Report review, peer review, project management
    • Data review and report preparation for more complex sites
    • Prepare and sign Records of Site Condition (Ontario)
    • Prepare & execute Remedial Action Plans
    • Risk Assessment/Risk Management for contaminated Sites
    • Strategic planning, budget forecasts, sales meetings
    • Litigation support and expert witness testimony
    • Hiring & firing, manage/approve staff allocation
    • Training, mentoring and supervising junior staff
    • Site visits, supervision, inspections



    • Monitoring well installation & well development, groundwater monitoring
    • Groundwater sampling, analyses and assessment
    • Well Pump & aquifer response testing
    • Data review, calculations, groundwater modelling
    • Regulatory permitting & applications
    • Liaison with landowners, developers and regulators
    • Report preparation & review, project management
    • Water supply studies, water quality/quantity testing
    • Peer review, litigation support and expert witness testimony


    Next month, I will cover a few more duties and activities for other careers in the environmental sector.

    Bill Leedham, P. Geo., CESA

    Bill is the Head Instructor and Course Developer for the Associated Environmental Site Assessors of Canada (www.aesac.ca); and the founder and President of Down 2 Earth Environmental Services Inc. You can contact Bill at info@down2earthenvironmental.ca