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Article: Environmental Designer Career, Role, Salary & Responsibility

Environmental Designer Career, Role, Salary & Responsibility

Here are some essential details you need to know about the environmental designer career, job role, salary, and responsibility. Let's find out!

Created by Stefan Becker |

When talking about a designer's career, many people only know the most common options. They might envision jobs such as logo design, character creator, architect, or some mainstream ideas. However, the work scope is pretty large. It is especially true due to the help of advancing technologies, fields, and also expertise. 

One of the professions in this distinct field that not many people know is environmental designer. What is it? Does it work around environmental design or ideas? Indeed, it does. However, the environmental designer career is one of the unique options out there since it works with digital creation. It is a unique work that you might want to look at. 


About The Work

Hearing the word designer, you can take a hint that the career will work around creating something and being creative. Aside from working with small media or subjects, such as logo or clothes design, the job role and responsibility demand more expertise. It is because the main job that they need to do is to create a fictional environmental design.  

Most of the time, the designer career is bound to a more specific job position such as animation film, videogame, or TV shows project. Their main work is to work off a design brief or detailed script that brings a fictional element or universe to life. In other words, you can call it a career as a world-builder. 

Is it an easy job? While it does sound fun to create an imaginary environmental plan, the job needs a lot of knowledge. The idea is that most digital projects need a new imaginative world to make the story or the idea work. You cannot use the real world for a fictional demi-human heavenlike environmental model. 

It needs more than just one piece of location design. You can say that the environmental designer career copes up with a more thorough and completely new world-building duty. Thus, the career requirement includes some of the more specific masteries. The masteries or skills that the designer needs include architecture, topography, cityscapes, landscape, or geography. 

Those skill masteries are the benchmark that sets the simple designer and the more specific professional environmental designer apart. Does it mean that no one cannot try the career opportunity? Of course, not. Everyone can pursue to make environmental design and learn more to be one. But, the underline is that the career does need more than just creativity. 

Created by Arata Takemoto |


The Area of Focus 

one thing that makes the career unique is the work potential. Most of the employees work to make designs with digital media projects. However, there are also the more common industries that need them as city planners. However, there are also more fascinating future career roles and works that you can find. Here are some of them.

1. Video Game industries 

Where do you find your career? Environmental designers mostly work under digital media, such as the video game industry. However, again it goes back to your area of focus. In the game industry world, the environmental designer career's role is pretty apparent. The designer will work as world-building, information, details, and script to make everything life. 

In this case, most of the time, they correlate with the level designer to make all of the world and environmental details work with the story. The designer needs to ensure that the creation can increasingly create a proper backdrop to the storytelling. Thus, the complex art, design, gameplay, world-building, and story will correlate to each other. 

In this case, the environmental designer career also demands the understanding of mood and context—the world where the game and the story inhabit needs a great association. The designer also needs to ensure the design, character, moving parts, and game elements have proper function. The game will end as a whole product.   

2. Animation And Film Industries 

Another good career target is the film and animation industries. Just as how the designers work as a world-building in-game industry, their job role is pretty much the same. The environmental work will be one of the design elements in the project. All goes to its function to support the storyline and contribute to the nature of the animation or film. 

Even though there are chances that the environmental design is pretty close to the real world, the designer is still needed to support the storyline. They can work to build up a new world or alter the real references to make it work with the project. The best possible job offer is from the 3D animation or fictional film industries.  

3. Future Land Or City Planner 

One of the best career opportunities as an environmental designer is a city planner. The job itself is also referred to as an urban planner. It is a job that specifically works under land planning for future development. In other words, it is part of being a city planner. The duties and the responsibilities themselves are not mere designer jobs. 

The environmental planner needs to work with research around the land restriction, zoning laws, jurisdictions, and many more details. It is a job that is more than just simple planning. The career will put the designer to plan future city development, building, and environmental design that fit with the restriction and ensure every business will work. 

After that, the work career will also demand the designer to make suggestions on whether to approve or deny the building or environmental work proposal. In these industries, the said career ideas are pretty strict. It is because the project scope, responsibilities, and the fund are way more pressing than the digital world-building job.  

Created by d- Arkroom |


The Job Explained (duties and responsibilities) 

When talking about the job's role and responsibilities, the answer will differ based on your industry's focus. If you are seeking an environmental designer career that works for city planning or urban planner, the job responsibilities will be far different than the gaming or film industries. So, here is a little bit of a sneak peek of what you need to do in this career road. 

1. Urban Planner 

If you are looking for a possible environmental designer career, the best one is an urban planner. Most of the time, they are employed by the local government to plan and create ideas about areas or building development. The duties can vary because the work will involve multiple areas of focus. 

What it means by area of focus are the job responsibilities. The designer career can envelop some jobs related to natural land and resources management. Some duties specify the need for policy research or concern. The community development, to plan the work in fieldwork sites and meet with the members might also come along. 

The designer's career might also include environmental restoration or a new construction plan. In this case, the day-to-day job desc can differ for every person. However, most of the time, the responsibilities can include collecting economic and population data and, after that, visiting the sites, attending meetings, preparing the reports, and many more. 

Some of the job duties that are specified in this environmental designer career focus will vary in the process. They might have to analyze and make reports of the environmental design trends. They also recommend or suggest placement for new buildings. Designers might also take care of environmental sustainability plans, transportation networks, etc.    

Created by GUIOT Damien |


2. Landscape Architecture And Architecture 

The career role and responsibilities as an architecture or landscape designer can heavily change compared to the previous one. Due to the shifting focus, the career as an environment designer in this one will work from the down starting plan. The architects will begin the work with a schematics draft, which can be done manually or using the software. 

The responsibility upon this job focus is quite specific in building infrastructure. The designer will be in charge of approving the ranges of details. It includes information on survey sites, materials, techniques, adding specifications, and calculating the project cost. Again, the environmental design career's job, in particular, will depend on the focus. 

When it comes to this kind of environmental designer job and responsibilities, many people take these responsibilities and work with the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification system. The system gives a deeper insight into the building structure measurement, such as air quality, water efficiency, waste reduction, and other statistics.    

Created by VE Creative |


3. Game Or Film Environmental Designer  

In the game and film industries, the environmental designer's career's job and responsibilities are the same as its name. The main job is creating design briefs and scripts that bring out the background design, layout plan, and the environmental element alive. It can help the abstract description, ideas, and concept come true or understandable. 

The designer itself works as a world-building division. The duty will include visualizing all the possibilities in the world, the interior logic, creating a playable world, and or building an imaginative structural area to handle the character's movement. One thing that makes the career is not easy is creating every environmental element and design fit with the gameplay aspect. 

The gameplay aspects include the narrative, mood, movement, role, feeling, and many more. Thus, you can underline that the environmental designer needs to express all of the aspects in one imaginative world. It should act as the visual storyteller. The design will infuse as well as elevate the gameplay and the story. 

In detail, the environmental designer needs to cooperate with the developer, director, and animator to make a corresponding style and story element in its work. They also need to research the project or work with the environmental illustration. They will give the proper interpretation and make it work until the design is accepted. 

At some point, they need to work along with the dramatic story moment and the gameplay script. Collaborating with animators will ensure the environmental design works with the assets or character. Some other duties in this career focus include working with a storyboard, scheduling, managing budget, and much art-related stuff.

You can find some other areas which need the help of environmental designers. The career has quite vast scope and possibilities. It includes working as a civil engineer. The job has responsibilities to create, build, and maintain private or public infrastructure. Environmental design can create public spaces, outdoor areas, roads, bridges, and many more.   

Created by Pietro Smurra |


The Salaries 

If you consider how complicated the environmental designer career is, it is normal to ask for salaries. One thing that is for sure is, the more professional the project is, the higher the payment will be. In this case, the average salary of the film and games career will be around USD 55,000 to $90,000. 

For the urban planner, around 2018, the average salary can reach $76.000. Meanwhile, for landscape architecture or architects, the average salary in 2019 is around $70,000. Again, the money is pretty high for the job. But you need to consider that the career still has a lot of room to grow in the future (11% growth rate from 2018-2028).  


How To Be One 

One thing that you need to consider before targeting this career is the requirement. The environmental designer is pretty high in terms of masteries and skills. Whether you want to be an urban planner or a world builder in-game, you will need at least a bachelor's or master's degree. Here are the details that you need to jot down. 

1. Education 

When talking about education requirements, the career is not pushing too much upon the candidate. However, at least you need a bachelor's degree from a college with the National Architectural Accrediting board. The subject needs to be in a related subject, such as geography, urban planning, landscape architecture, and environmental design. 

The bachelor's requirement is a good point that makes the environmental designer career reachable. However, if you get a master's degree in the said subject, it will open you a bigger chance to hook the career. At the same time, having a master's degree will give you a higher-level career opportunity with higher wages as well. 

Another good point is that some of the U.S colleges and universities have some of the required accredited degree programs. You can choose according to your abilities as long as it concentrates on the environment, community, transportation, or housing development. As you finish your education and get the degree, it is time to pursue certification. 

The thing is, licensure is not particularly required. However, you might need certification by the AICP or the American Institute of Certified Planner. Purse the environmental designer certification as soon as possible. So, you can focus on your professional work experience to secure a future career.   

Created by Bartosz Domiczek |


2. Skills Requirement 

While the education requirement for the career is not too demanding, but the work will need a bunch of skills. The primary skills as an environmental designer are the strong sense of a balanced virtual world and being true to reality. The designer also needs to destroy disbelief, jolt the viewer's eye, and make it work. 

At least, that was what you needed to make a good game or film environmental design. The other career, such as an urban planner or landscape architecture, will go with a more realistic point of view. Again, the skill requirements will be connected in some ways. But it is also worth underlining that it can differ in each career focus as a designer.  

So, some of the required skills are good communication abilities. It also needs design and caricature masteries. Digital, computer graphics, art, or animation will also help in the career journey. Stylistic versatility, natural terrain visualization, texturing knowledge, technical drawing, teamwork, solid visual language knowledge, and many more.  

Created by SPECTRUM VIS |


3. Software Masteries 

Regardless of the environment designer focus you are going to be; the designing skill is the primary point. To work around environmental design, you can work with digital or manual drawing using ranges of media. At some point, the career might force you to work with mixed media, such as paper, ink, pent, paint, and many more. 

However, most of the time, the final artwork needs to be delivered digitally. It is because digital drawing or artwork can accentuate more details and information. It can tell the texture, material, structure, drawing point of view, and many more. Sometimes the use of digital software will help create a better interpretation of the content.

Thus, one of the requirements that you need is software mastery. The environmental designer career will likely work with a range of graphic design software. It can be 2D software such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator as the industry standard. Or using the 3D model software using Maya, 3D studio max, CelAction, Mudbox, and many more.  



Working under the digital creation realm, the name of environmental designer indeed sounds rare in the field. The specific field and working requirements make the career hard to achieve. It is not a mere creating painting. It works with bigger scope in the world of the game, Tv shows, or animated films. It is not a design job for everyone without ranges of skills and masteries.  

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