Career Spotlight: Environmental Accounting

View all blog posts under Articles | View all blog posts under MAcc

Career Spotlight: Environmental Accounting

Public and private companies hire environmental accountants to evaluate the financial impacts that business decisions may have on the environment.

Public and private companies hire environmental accountants to evaluate the financial impacts that a firm’s business decisions may have on the environment, according to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The field has grown as businesses look to reduce their pollution footprint and lower costs.

“For Fortune 500 companies, environmental management is an ongoing responsibility for accountants and others assigned to control risk,” Murphy Smith, a certified public accountant, and professor of accounting at Texas A&M University, told

The primary goal of an environmental accountant is to help businesses reduce environmental costs to improve efficiency without increasing environmental impact, according to An environmental accountant’s responsibilities can also include:

  • Addressing the risks of not responding to fines and penalties
  • Seeking budget-friendly, alternative methods to those costs
  • Identifying tax credit opportunities for companies

Earning a master’s in accountancy online can help aspiring environmental accountants acquire the strategic planning, communication, and budgeting skills they need to seek top positions in this growing field.


Environmental Accounting Job Description

Environmental accountants help companies reduce and eliminate environmental costs as they relate to business decisions. For example, an environmental accountant may recommend that a business invest in green technologies to save money during the production processes, according to the EPA.

Master’s-level accountants with an interest in the environment can choose from several career paths, according to the EPA. Most graduates are usually involved in one of these types of accounting sub-fields:

  • Financial accounting: Environmental accountants prepare fiscal reports such as earnings statements. These documents may be presented to investment partners, lenders, government entities, and the general public.
  • Internal business managerial accounting: Another form of environmental accounting is collecting data for senior managers. Corporate leaders use the data to make business decisions.
  • National income accounting: This area of environmental accounting is a “macro-economic measure” used by the federal government to observe how the economy is doing overall, and how money is being earned and spent, according to the EPA. Environmental accountants analyze this data to determine the impact that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has on the environment.

Environmental accountants also track environmental costs produced by a business. Environmental costs are expenses connected with manufacturing a product, according to the EPA.

One example, according to the Houston Chronicle, is when environmental accountants create reports that track material waste left over from the manufacturing process. If a report concludes that a company is regularly producing too much waste, then the company can use the data to buy fewer materials, therefore spending less money.


Steps to Becoming an Environmental Accountant

Most accounting jobs require a minimum of an undergraduate degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Pursuing a master’s degree in accounting can help job seekers achieve senior accounting career titles and earn higher wages, according to the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA).

Additionally, becoming a certified public accountant (CPA) is not a requirement for a job working as an accountant, however, the certification is “highly regarded” and can help prospecgts stand out when hunting for a job, according to the AICPA.


Environmental Accounting Salary and Career Outlook

Environmental accountants typically work in an office during standard business hours.  The field as a whole is expected to grow faster than average (around 10 percent) from 2016 through 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A typical environmental accountant salary varies depending on the type of company and the location of the job, however, the national average salary for environmental accountants is $57,113, according to ZipRecruiter. On the high end, environmental accountants can make as much as $113,000 per year, and on the low end, around $19,500 annually.


University of North Dakota’s Master of Accountancy Online Degree

The University of North Dakota’s online Master of Accountancy helps graduates conduct in-depth financial and performance-related analysis, make meaningful connections with clients and stakeholders, and understand the importance that quality data has on strategic decision-making. The 30-credit hour program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and features two online tracks that students can complete remotely.

Coursework for the program includes accounting ethics and leadership, accounting for governments and nonprofits, and business intelligence. For more information, contact the University of North Dakota today.


Recommended Reading

Upcoming Accounting Trends

Top Skills for Certified Public Accountants

How to Prepare for the CPA Exam



An Introduction to Environmental Accounting As A Business Management Tool: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Environmental Accountants Do It for the Green: Monster

Role of environmental accounting in enterprises: Researchgate

A Look At Accounting Careers:

Basics of Environmental Accounting: Houston Chronicle

Frequently Asked Questions: American Institute of CPAs

Accountants and Auditors: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Environmental Accounting Salary: ZipRecruiter