CAR, VCS, ISO 14000, FSC, MSC.* These are only a few of the veritable alphabet soup of voluntary environmental standards that companies use to assure consumers that they are environmentally responsible. You may have learned about some of these standards in NRES classes, but have you ever thought about the career opportunities that they create?
These certifications provide information to potential customers. For example, you learned about declining fish populations when you took NRES 102, and wanting to continue to make your excellent grilled salmon recipe, you wonder how you can find salmon you can feel confident was harvested sustainably. The answer is that you use the sustainable seafood product finder provided by the Marine Stewardship Council to find the brands of specific fish species that meet the MSC’s standards of sustainable seafood.
Companies know that there are some consumers who will want sustainably harvested seafood (or lumber or coffee or cars that are produced with attention to sustainability, etc.), so they seek an advantage over their competitors by becoming certified. When a company signs onto one of these standards, it submits its activities to a certification process. Even the most voluntary standards (those not requiring third-party verification of claims) have an organization that needs people to convince companies to participate in the standard, educate the public to look for products with its seal of approval, investigate claims of violations, and manage the certification records. Those standards that require third-party verification generate even more career opportunities, because someone has to do the verification.
As a result, there are businesses that specialize in certification. One such company is Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), which describes itself as “a global leader in independent certification and verification of environmental, sustainability, stewardship, food quality, food safety and food purity claims.” SCS is one of several large companies, Bureau Veritas being another, that offers certification services for a wide range of standards around the world.
To learn more about this career path, you can explore some jobs with certification companies that are currently available:
There are similar positions related to enforcing legally required standards, as well. For example, NRES Student Services recently received an e-mail asking us to advertise jobs in the Catch Shares Observer Program run byAlaskan Observers, Inc. Fishing trawlers on the West Coast receive limits on the fish they are allowed to catch, and they are required to carry observers when they are fishing. According to the job description, “Observers in the Trawl Catch Share Observer Program can expect to work at-sea 15-20 days per month, gathering fishing effort and location information, sampling for species composition, and collecting biological data from both prohibited and target species.” These positions require at least a B.S. in a natural science with at least 30 credit hours in biological sciences, one course in math, and one course in statistics. NRES graduates, particularly those in the Fish and Wildlife Conservation concentration, fulfill these requirements very well, and positions related to other types of regulation fit the profiles of other NRES concentrations.
So next time you are thinking about your career, consider standard setting organizations and certification companies as one possible path.
*CAR (Climate Action Reserve), VCS (Verified Carbon Standards), ISO 14000 (International Organization for Standardization standards for Environmental Management), FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), and MSC (Marine Stewardship Council).