They are certified compliance officers involved in Real Estate transactions, determining the viability of a proposed development and assessing potential impact.
What Does a Registered Environmental Assessor Do?
REAs work in both environmental assessment and real estate at the same time. Essentially, they are a bridge between the two areas. Their roles are similar to those of an Environmental Compliance Officer but they deal with land transactions rather than regular assessments of workplace safety. When a real estate transaction is proposed, the REA professional will examine the land or building and carry out an environmental impact study. This is especially the case for when a new development is proposed. They will look at all elements to ascertain the full impact of proposed developments such as residential zones, shopping centers and infrastructure.
As well as their work in Real Estate, they are called upon to assess environmental clean-up sites for action. They carry out a survey along with other professionals and compile a report on a proposed course of action. They will also make recommendations or invoke civic law to ensure that the sale, transfer or development goes through the proper channels and attempts to limit the potential environmental impact. Standards are formalized across the country. That is why in order to become a Registered Environmental Assessor you require full certification in the state of operation.
Where Does a Registered Environmental Assessor Work?
Due to the requirement across the board, they work in both public and private sector. 26%, that is just over one quarter, work in management & technical consulting services alongside Environmental Planners and other professionals. It is estimated that some 90% of REAs who work in this area are self-employed sole proprietors working on a contract basis for government, private individuals and for business. Freelancing is a growing area for specialist roles in Real Estate such as REAs.
Some 18% (that's almost one fifth) work for local government. They will work primarily with public land, either that which is protected or set for development for public use (new public parks, residential, commercial or industrial development for example). Similarly, 8% work for state government fulfilling similar roles. They will work on state projects such as highways or on other public land that comes under the jurisdiction of the state.
6% work in engineering services, which will typically involve direct employment with developers and construction businesses. A small number work in labs, carrying out tests as part of a wider site assessment.
What Is the Average Registered Environmental Assessor Salary?
According to the BLS, environmental assessors, who fall under the broader BLS category of property appraisers and assessors, earned a median salary of $58,650 as of May 2020. The lowest 10% earned about $32,990 and the highest earned more than $107,090 during this time.*
Environmental Assessment Jobs & Job Description
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Conducting environmental site assessments are essential for any proposed land use changes or building projects. The results from an assessment will predict and prevent or mitigate any adverse environmental reactions to projects. Several specialized skills are obligatory for a Registered Environmental Assessor to effectively do their job, and consist of:
- Possessing a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Science, Environmental Engineering, or a related field of study
- Conducting work at multiple environmental sites and compile data or reports in an office environment; extensive travel may be required
- Work may be conducted in varying or possibly extreme environmental conditions
- Remaining up to date and knowledgeable in relative building variables, such as electrical, plumbing, asbestos or structural components
- Possessing keen attention to detail to produce photographic, graphical or drawing representations of environmental sites, which are under assessment
- Understanding and providing seismic assessments to locations to determine damageable threat of earthquakes
- Capability to perform physical assessments of property to understand the lay of the land
- Ability to prepare cost estimates of environmental assessments and any factors for mitigating environmental impacts
- Remaining highly organized to record field data and observations, compiling the data and observations recorded to produce technical reports
A senior level Registered Environmental Assessor will have an abundance of experience working in the field and will contribute a management role. In addition to many of the skills required for a first-tier assessor, the specialized skill set required for the senior position consists of:
- Managing projects and providing regular updates to management and stakeholders
- Overseeing staff on projects and providing necessary feedback or direction
- Implementing and overseeing quality assurance and quality control protocols
- Training staff, providing support and mentorship as required
- Reviewing reports of proposals, project plans and cost estimates
- Preparing budget proposals and following project plans to ensure budgets are followed or updated
- Deriving new business and actively engaging in creating new business for the company
- Overseeing health and safety measures and ensuring procedures are followed
- Possessing excellent organizational and communication skills to lead conference calls, board meetings and presentations
What Is the Job Demand for Registered Environmental Assessors?
The job demand for environmental assessors is projected to increase by 4 percent between 2020 and 2030.* The reason for this growth is the growing importance and awareness of environmental issues when developing, redeveloping or simply selling on real estate. There are wider impacts as part of a development and both Federal and international laws are in place to define acceptable standards. The bulk of this uptake is expected to be in freelancing / self-employment as businesses seek to employ short-term contractors with low running costs for assessments rather than larger firms with potentially higher costs.
What Are the Education Requirements to Become a Registered Environmental Assessor?
High School students should focus on the core sciences such as math, chemistry and biology in building a solid foundation for their degrees. Colleges will look closely at these relevant subjects. High performance in English communication and language skills will also be important for report writing. A degree is necessary for this type of role.
At degree level, students should choose any number of relevant roles. An environmental science degree or online environmental science degree is a relevant choice, as is a related engineering degree such as environmental engineering where available (although these may not be available until MA/MS level). Public health may also be a good choice where possible. Hard sciences such as chemistry and biology should be complemented with environment and public health minors and electives.
A Masters is essential due to the project work, communication and involved research. Postgraduate course of study should follow a similar pattern and subjects as the undergraduate degree, typically in environmental engineering or public health (MPH). Some students will find and advantage in studying GIS. Increasingly, geographic data is important for public works development to assess environmental impact.
In order to practice as a REA, students will then need full accreditation. This will require further on the job training and study. The individual states classify and assess candidates for this area so seek accreditation in your state of residence.
Environmental Assessment - Related Degrees
What Kind Of Societies and Professional Organizations Do Registered Environmental Assessors Have?
- Environmental Protection Agency: Although not directly responsible for REAs, they are the Federal government's major environmental body, setting standards and Federal requirements for protection of our landscape and environments
- International Association of Impact Assessment: As development on civic projects is often international effort on the 21st century, there is a requirement for international standards, co-operation and collaboration for environmental impact assessment. This body brings together professionals in this area
*2020 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures and job growth projections for property appraisers and assessors reflect national data not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed September 2021.