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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

Cross-Functional Skills

More so than the average accountant, environmental accountants must be able to work with professionals from a wide range of disciplines, including scientists, risk managers, regulatory specialists, public relations professionals and senior executives.

“The environmental accountant has to be an excellent communicator,” says Robert Pojasek, an East Arlington, Massachusetts, management consultant specializing in environmental issues. Ultimately, when these specialists work in the private sector, they must accept the fact that they serve the bottom line. “The environmental accountant needs to be cognizant that traditional accountants do run the business,” he says.

Job Demand and Politics

Environmental protection is always a hot-potato issue in Washington, DC. For that reason, the demand for environmental accountants may be subject to the politics of the moment, according to Pojasek. The administration of George W. Bush slowed the pace of environmental regulation, he says. “When no new regulations come out, there are not a lot of incentives to try to prevent pollution,” he says. If there are fewer incentives, corporations may be likely to hire fewer environmental accountants.

But some observers believe corporate America’s enlightened self-interest in sustainable practices could reduce the influence of politics on environmental management. “The more that industry is able to justify environmental programs on the basis of financial self-interest, the lower the financial, political, and other burdens of environmental protection on government,” according to theEnvironmental Management Accounting Research and Information Center.

If you pursue a career in environmental accounting, you may find yourself at the center of these important issues.