Exploring Careers In Natural Flood Management

As we come to terms with how the environment is changing because of climate change, jobs, and careers in Natural Flood Management (NFM) will become more abundant and ever so more important to the changing world in which we live, so now seems to a good time to explore these new roles.

Slow The Flow (STF) recently funded part of a bursary for Masters Students at Leeds University studying Natural Flood Management (NFM). You can read more about this HERE.

Some STF trustees work in the fields list below or know people who do. We are keen to encourage the right people into jobs in NFM – if you want a chat about our experience, please get in touch.

You may be looking for some experience to aid your development into a paid role, or just want to learn more about NFM. So, if you feel you would like to contribute to the work of Slow The Flow in a voluntary capacity and gain valuable experience at the same time, please do get in touch with us.

If you are looking to work in NFM) and/or Sustainable Drainage Schemes (SuDS) there are a variety of career options open to you, from the practical to the scientific, or a combination of both. There has never been a time when so much interest has been shown in the use of natural flood management. Flooding of residential and business properties and farmland is a regular occurrence but its frequency and intensity is increasing because of climate change and intensity of land use.

There is a growing recognition of the benefits of using NFM either instead of, or in combination with, hard engineering flood alleviation schemes. Natural flood management schemes are typically less disruptive to implement than hard engineering schemes, as well as providing better value for money. They provide a range of ‘Green Infrastructure’ benefits in addition to flood alleviation such as increased biodiversity, habitat renewal, improved water quality as well as being carbon negative.

At present there is no dedicated career path for those working in NFM. It is a field of work where a wide range of occupations and professions contribute. If you want to work in natural flood management, you should consider the following routes.

Land Management jobs

This line of work is all about helping landowners, farmers, and local councils to manage and maintain their areas of land.

You might be offering guidance and devising schemes to help farmers and landowners get the most out of their land, driving a digger or a tractor, planting trees, building attenuation ponds and leaky debris dams.

You might be working alongside organisations, such as the National Trust, to help improve areas that are designated for public land use. You will be using your expert knowledge of the environment and sustainability issues to help reduce the impact of flooding, preserve the wildlife in national parks and conservation areas, whilst making them accessible for all kinds of people.

If you want to work in this area, it is highly important that you have a passion for the environment. This is where work experience, volunteer work and internships come into play. This will give you a great insight into the industry, help you build up the key skills that you need and show that you care about the environment too.

For more information on careers in the management of forests and woodland check out https://www.allaboutcareers.com/career-path/forestry-trees-timber/

Arborists and Arboriculturists (tree surgeon/contractor and professional advisors)

Arboriculture is an industry which covers a huge range of skills and job roles as well as collaboration with associated professions.
Some arborists choose to gain experience in multiple fields to enable them to become more accomplished by seeing and understanding the industry and how it fits into related sectors from each position e.g., researchers, tree officers, consultants, college lecturers, trainers, surveyors, climbers and grounds men have a hugely varied skill set, and each different path into arboriculture requires you to look at trees in different ways.


Landscape Professional

There are a wide range of careers within the general term ‘Landscape Professional’ including Landscape Architect, Designer, Planner, Manager, Scientist and Urban Designer.

Landscape Professionals are typically qualified to undergraduate or post graduate level, but there are developing apprenticeship routes to chartership. Details of career paths for Landscape Professionals can be found here; https://www.chooselandscape.org/choose-your-career/

Landscape Architect

Landscape architects plan, design, create and manage landscapes and open spaces, in both natural and built environments.

Your role as a landscape architect will be to provide innovative and aesthetically pleasing environments for people to enjoy, while ensuring that changes to the natural environment are appropriate, sensitive and sustainable.

Collaborating closely with other professionals, you will work on a range of projects in both urban and rural settings – from parks, gardens and housing estates to city centre design, sporting sites and motorway construction.

Landscape architects are typically qualified to undergraduate or post graduate level. Details of career paths can be found here https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job- profiles/landscape-architect


Ecologists help to protect and restore the natural environment by providing important information about how human activity affects individual species and ecosystems.

As an ecologist, you will be concerned with ecosystems – the abundance and distribution of organisms (people, plants, animals), and the relationships between organisms and their environment. In this role, you will usually specialise in a particular area, such as freshwater, marine, terrestrial, fauna or flora, and carry out a range of tasks relating to that area.

When starting out, you will conduct surveys to identify, record, and monitor species and their habitats. With career progression, your work will become more wide- ranging, and in a senior role you may get involved in policy and management work.

Ecologists are typically qualified to undergraduate or post graduate level. Details of career paths can be found here https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/ecologist

2B Landscape Consultancy Ltd


A career as a hydrologist would suit you if you are good at interpreting data and are interested in the environment and sustainability.

Hydrologists are involved in the monitoring, management and protection of water and water resources in commercial, environmental and academic settings.

They ensure the effective flow of water through channels and pipes for the engineering and control of water provision. Their work contributes to the efficient planning, development and sustainable use of natural and domestic water resources, ensuring water is supplied in the most cost-effective manner.

Hydrologists are typically qualified to undergraduate or post graduate level. Details of career paths can be found here https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/hydrologist


As a hydrogeologist, you will make a significant contribution to the environment by working to better protect and manage groundwater resources.

Your role as a hydrogeologist will be to study the distribution, flow and quality of water underground – as opposed to hydrologists who are primarily concerned with surface water.

You’ll interpret technical data and information from maps and historical documents to build a conceptual model of groundwater flow and quality. You will also design and complete investigations, which may include environmental measurement and sampling; using modelling techniques, you’ll make predictions about future trends and impacts on groundwater flow and quality.

Hydrogeologists are typically qualified to undergraduate or post graduate level. Details of career paths can be found here https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job- profiles/hydrogeologist

Nature conservation officers manage and protect the environment, promoting sustainability, educating others and providing information and analysis.

As a nature conservation officer, you will work to protect, manage and enhance the local environment. This can include grassland, woodland, forests, coastal areas, moorland, mountains and rivers. Depending on the region, you might also work in marine habitats.

Part of the role is to encourage people to use the countryside and promote awareness and understanding of the natural environment. You will develop policy which may have local and national impact.

Nature Conservationists are typically qualified to undergraduate or post graduate level. Details of career paths can be found here https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job- profiles/nature-conservation-officer

Water Engineer

Water engineers are responsible for the supply of clean water, the disposal of wastewater and sewage and the prevention of flood damage.

The provision of clean water will be your main concern as a water engineer, but you may work with a variety of other liquids as well. Asset management will play a major part in your work and you’ll be involved in the repair, maintenance and building of structures that control water resources. Examples include sea defence walls, pumping stations and reservoirs.

You may become involved in broader water-related issues, such as global warming, ageing infrastructure, population growth and quality of living standards.

Water engineer is a generic title given to engineers who specialise in water-based projects. Many have a civil engineering or environmental background.

Water Engineers are typically qualified to undergraduate or post graduate level. Details of career paths can be found here https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job- profiles/water-engineer

Environmental Engineer

Environmental engineers are involved in managing and reducing waste and minimising pollution in order to protect, restore and preserve the planet.

As an environmental engineer, you will design technologies and implement processes and systems to prevent and control a range of environmental risks, and also to restore and reverse environmental damage.

You’ll use your background in science and engineering to provide a healthy environment for the world’s population by disposing of waste, providing safe drinking water, controlling environmental hazards, improving recycling and decreasing soil, water and air pollution.

Environmental Engineers are typically qualified to undergraduate or post graduate level. Details of career paths can be found here https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job- profiles/environmental-engineer

Geotechnical Engineer

Geotechnical engineers use their in-depth knowledge of soil and rock to assess risk and solve problems on diverse infrastructure projects.

Working as a geotechnical engineer, you will support design and construction by carrying out testing and analysis to assess risk to humans and the environment. Risk can arise from natural hazards such as landslides, sinkholes, rock falls and earthquakes. Your assessment will enable you to evaluate the soil and rock and determine the feasibility of a construction or engineering plan.

Geotechnical engineering is closely linked to and overlaps with, both engineering geology and ground engineering. It’s possible to specialise in geotechnics or work for a geotechnical company but be known as an engineering geologist or a ground engineer.

Geotechnical Engineers are typically qualified to undergraduate or post graduate level. Details of career paths can be found here.


Geographical Information Systems Officer

Geographical information systems (GIS) officers capture and analyse a range of geographical data using GIS systems in order to help organisations make long-term plans.

GIS systems are computerised systems used to collect, store, analyse, manipulate and present a range of complex geographical and spatial data. Data can come in a range of formats including cartographic, photographic, digital (for example, from satellites) and remote sensing, or in tables and spreadsheets.

Using GIS technology, a GIS officer can overlay all these types of data into one map, manipulating it so that all the sources have the same scales and allowing complex readings to be taken from the map.

Geographical Information Systems Officers are typically qualified to undergraduate or post graduate level. Details of career paths can be found here https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/geographical-information-systems-officer

Environmental Project Manager

If being in charge of schemes, resources and people motivates you, and you can work under pressure to tight deadlines, a career as a project manager may suit you.

As a project manager, you’ll need to track work to be completed, set deadlines and delegate tasks to your project team, identifying any potential risks.

Ultimately, you are responsible for completing the project work in line with the plan and will often report progress to senior managers.

Environmental Project Managers are typically qualified to undergraduate or post graduate level (Geography or Environmental Sciences) followed by a specific project management qualification such as PRINCE2. Details of career paths can be found here. https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/project-manager