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Environmental Accountants Do It for the Green

Environmental Accountants Do It for the Green

John Rossheim, Monster Senior Contributing Writer 

January 27, 2010

Three Flavors of Environmental Accounting

There are three major areas of specialization in environmental accounting:

  • Environmental management accountants collect and analyze information on materials flows and pollution controls for an internal audience of executives.

    * Environmental financial accountants make analogous reports to external audiences, including investors and regulators.

    * Environmental national accountants look at a much bigger picture, analyzing how natural resources are used and how environmental impacts are managed across the nation.

Environmental accounting is something of an outlier in the broad field of finance. There are no academic programs focusing on environmental accounting, nor is there a professional credential for the specialty.

“Companies don’t specifically recruit for environmental accountant positions,” Smith says. “In most cases, students get a job and learn the basics of a company, then specialize in this area.” Most accountants have earned their CPA credential before taking a job in the environmental area.

Large companies often have environmental accountants on staff, as do accounting firms, government technical-assistance agencies and nonprofits. The US Environmental Protection Agency, for example, has been a driving force in environmental accounting, as evidenced by the agency’s publications.