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What Qualifications or Experience do you Need to Work in Waste Management?

Are you a job seeker looking for a position in waste management? Give yourself a better chance of landing the role by learning about the qualifications or experience you need to be selected and jump-start your career.

The waste management and recycling sector has a huge range of role types. The skills, experience and qualifications required can vary greatly on the function of the role within the business and can even be influenced by the type of waste and how it is being handled. Please note the following information is based on common requirements we get asked for, there are no steadfast rules. Clients have a wide range of requirements vary from role to role, and qualifications in a lot of cases are preferred rather than essential.

Logistics & Operations

Due to the extensive regulation in the waste sector industry experience is highly coveted by potential employers, especially for production and logistics operations roles. Where this cannot be found clients will often that look to similar industries.

For example, waste processing is often a conveyor-based operation with mechanical sorting, so they will generally look to heavy manufacturing such as mining, quarrying, aggregates or steel. Some clients will also look at FMCG or food production. On the waste collections front, typically trade waste collections are high volume rounds with 80-120 lifts per vehicle. The planning and commercial development for these types of collections suits a background in multidrop or courier services. The planning for Skips is a lot more ad hoc and this leans more towards general haulage or plant hire.

The main qualifications asked for in these roles at supervisory / management level are:

Transport Management CPC for transport-based roles. This is a solid grounding in vehicle and driver compliance and most collections operations with vehicles over 3.5 tonnes require one CPC qualified member of the team to be on the operator’s licence to allow them to get on the road.

WAMITAB / COTC. It is required by the environment agency that a COTC qualified Technically Competent Manager be on site for 20-30% of the site’s operating hours depending on the waste handles. As this is essential it greatly improves employability if qualified.

IOSH Managing Safely or NEBOSH General Certificate. Both these safety qualifications are a big plus and in some cases a prerequisite for certain companies as the sector drives up Safety standards.

We are increasingly being asked for people with experience employing lean / continuous improvement processes such as Six Sigma, 5 Whys, Root Cause Analysis and Kaizen. These tools are used to remove waste of processes, improve operating efficiency and reduce costs. Any related training here is generally desirable.
One of the main skills required is a strong ability to man manage individuals and teams.

Consultancy, Engineering, Technical and Compliance

We often get asked for candidates in these roles to be degree educated, especially in consultancy where it is almost always a prerequisite and are therefore a good route into the environmental sector for graduates.

For consultancy and compliance roles degrees such as Environmental Science / Management / Compliance, Waste Management, Geology, Health & Safety (Compliance only) are regularly on the spec sheet.

For safety focused compliance roles NEBOSH General Certificate is the baseline, with the higher NEBOSH Diploma often required for management and regional level roles. For environmentally focused roles IEMA training or a NEBOSH Environmental certificate is generally the base line with degrees being a step up. The WAMITAB / COTC is also a positive but generally non-essential qualification to have under your belt.

Affiliations to bodies such as the CIWM, IOSH, IEMA, MIET or other associations relevant to your experience always appears positively especially if you get to chartered status.

For technical roles, people handling Hazardous Waste will often need a HNC to degree in Chemistry or Biochemistry, other science degrees such as Forensics and Environmental Science are sometimes considered if the degree contains enough Chemistry modules. Qualified staff are often required to satisfy the Environment Agency permit of a site and so this is non-negotiable for some roles.

From an Engineering perspective on the maintenance side, it is preferred that Maintenance technicians have served an apprenticeship and are Level 3 NVQ or City & Guilds certified or higher in Electrical or Mechanical Engineering. More Project Based / Civil Engineering / Engineering Management / Design roles that would be considered ‘off the tools’ often require a degree in a relevant discipline. HNC is general the minimum for these roles.

Sales & Commercial Roles

Sales and commercial roles are often more about negotiation and sales skills, and current contacts rather than qualifications. Some technical sales roles occasionally require a science or engineering degree for example if you are selling hazardous waste services, chemistry or related is advantageous, likewise engineering is helpful if you are selling capital plant equipment.

In the main salespeople are assessed on how they perform vs sales or tonnage targets, account retention, large prestige sales etc. People looking to get into this need to show enthusiasm and drive, and a thick skin, as you are likely to hear ‘no’ a lot and the ability to keep plowing on through the numbers is key.

While qualifications are not the be all and end all in sales roles a good level of education will help in activities like writing details tenders and working with figures. English, maths, business and marketing qualifications will prove useful along the way.

Sector experience is highly advantageous, with experience in service based, contract led sales in another sector the next best thing.

Administration, Customer Service & Finance

These support functions play a pivotal role in any business. Administrators and Customer Service Advisors generally just require good IT, maths and English skills, and qualifications that support these core skills will be welcome such as an NVQ in Business Administration or Customer Service.

On the more financial side ACCA or AAT qualified people are usually required for lower to middle level roles and CIMA for senior staff.
Generally, an excellent working knowledge of Excel is required and there a wide variety of packages like SAGE or SAP is also generally a plus.

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