Learn about the Environment: Recycling, Conservation, Global Warming and Sustainability
Give Yourself a Workplace Advantage
The Proficiency Award 2 is designed to give you an edge in business or when applying for jobs. Employers and clients look for more than just current environmental knowledge, and that's why this course goes beyond other courses and cultivates the following:
- Networking within Environmental Industries
- Problem Solving Skills
- Communication Skills eg. ability to write with clarity and conciseness
- Sensitivity to things that matter in the "real world" eg. productivity, cost-benefit relationships
What makes the ACS Proficiency Award unique?
The proficiency awards offer a tiered award system - so you don't have to wait until the end of your qualification to gain an award.
How does that work?
Once you have completed 6 modules, you can receive an ACS Certificate. Complete 8 (plus 100hrs work experience), and receive an ACS Advanced Certificate. Complete 10 and receive a ACS Proficiency Award 1. Complete 14 (plus 100hrs work experience) and receive an ACS Proficiency Award 2. Complete 20 modules (plus 100hrs work experience) and receive an ACS Proficiency Award 3. Complete 24 modules (plus 100hrs Work Experience) and receive an ACS Proficiency Award 4.
The course is divided into 15 subjects/modules as follows:
Core Modules (Each module = 100 hours)
You must successfully complete all assignments and pass exams in each of the following:
Introduction to Ecology
- Conservation and Environmental Management
- Environmental Waste Management
- Soil Management
- Botany I
- Ecotour Management
- Project Management
- Wildlife Management
- Environmental Assessment
- Research Project I
- Plus 100 hours industry meetings or work experience -There are many different ways this can be satisfied.
You need to complete a further four courses (100 hours each) chosen from the following options:
- Wildlife Conservation
- Nature Park Management I
- Nature Park Management II
- Permaculture Systems
- Landscaping I
- Landscaping II
- Landscaping III (Styles)
- Marine Studies l
- Trees for Rehabilitation
- Sustainable Agriculture
- Organic Farming
- Freelance Writing
- Ecotourism Tour Guide Course
- Event Management
- Starting a Small Business
Frequently Asked Questions
What Work Opportunities exist for Graduates?
This course offers more opportunities than "standard" environmental science programs. Despite the growing importance of environmental management; many graduates from other courses are still not finding the jobs they hoped for.
- Climate change is causing increased demand for graduates
- A skills shortage is looming in this industry
- Changing structures and priorities (eg. Carbon trading schemes) are likely to foster local business (Past trends to importing likely to be curbed)
Environmental industries are expanding; but often not exactly in the way that "academics" predict. Opportunities in research, teaching and some other areas are heavily dependent upon government policy or funding, which tends to keep changing direction. This makes career opportunities in some areas of environmental management highly competitive at times.
The private sector in contrast, is responding to commercial demands; developing products and services as opportunities arise. To take advantage of more sustainable career opportunities, an environmental expert needs to have broader based skills, a sensitivity to industry trends and an ability and willingness to move their position in the industry as opportunities shift.
How Long Do I have to Complete this Course?
As long as you want. This is very flexible. You can work longer one week, and less the next. You can study hard at times, and take a break at other times. We have seen some people work seven days a week, long hours, and complete a Proficiency Award 2 in a very short time; while others take as long as ten years. It is totally up to you!
How well recognised is this course?
Very well in the ways that matter most. ACS has been in existence since 1979, and is held in high regard by academics around the world. Many of our tutors are leaders in their fields. We are internationally recognised by the International Accreditation and Recognition Council.We have formal links (affiliations) with colleges in several countries, including a number of government recognised institutions. We are however independent of any one national government; which gives our courses a uniqueness which provides our students with an advantage when competing with graduates from "standard" study programs.
Extract from course notes in our Introduction to Ecology Course
The functional units of any ecosystem are the populations of organisms through which energy and nutrients move. A population can be defined as:
A group of interbreeding organisms (of the same type) that live in the same place, at the same time; they are members of the same species.
For example, Acacia melanoxylon is the wattle tree commonly known as ‘Blackwood’. Its botanical name, using scientific terms is Acacia (genus) melanoxylon (species). A stand of blackwood trees found in the bush would then be identified as a population. As a species, they can interbreed freely. As a genus, they can interbreed, but it is a much rarer occurrence. So, the Blackwood will interbreed with other Blackwood in the area, but not with other Acacias. This is what identifies them as a population.
Within an ecosystem, there are groups of populations that interact in various ways. These interdependent populations, consisting of plants and animals, make up communities. The community makes up the biotic or living portion of the ecosystem.
A community possesses certain attributes, including dominance and species diversity. When one or more of the species control the environmental conditions that influences associated species, this is known as dominance. For example, in a forest the dominant species may be one or more species of trees, such as Eucalyptus, Acacia, etc. In a marine community, the dominant organisms are usually animals such as oysters or a specific type of fish.
Dominance can influence diversity of species within a community, because diversity involves not only the number of species in the community, but also how the numbers of the individual species are apportioned.
The physical nature of a community can be seen by "layering" or stratification. In terrestrial communities, the layering is influenced by the growth form of the plants. For instance, simple communities, such as grasslands, have very little vertical layering. Grasslands usually consist of two layers, the ground layer and the herbaceous layer. A forest can have up to six layers: the ground, herbaceous, low shrub, low tree and high shrub, lower canopy and upper canopy.
The strata, or layers, influence the physical environment and the diversity of the habitats of the wildlife.
In contrast, in aquatic communities the physical conditions influence the vertical stratification of life. These physical conditions include:
- Carbon Dioxide
- Influence the vertical stratification of life.
The Habitat and the Niche
The habitat is the natural home of an organism, and can be measured and described by the vegetation and physical characteristics of the area. Organisms occupy different niches in the habitat.
An ecological “niche” is defined by Elton (1927) as “the functional role and position of the organism in its community”. This can be thought as how an individual responds to the abundance of resources and presence of competitors and predators within a community. These factors are also affected by abiotic components such as temperature and the time of day an individual feeds. For example, the habitat for kookaburras can be forests, open woodlands and forest fringes. The niche they occupy is to eat fish, insects, worms and lizards and to defend their territory boundaries from competing families.
The more finely a community is stratified, the more niches the habitat is divided into. No two species can occupy the same ecological niche in the same community over a period of time.
Population Growth Rates
The birth rate is the number of young produced per unit of time, while the death rate is the number of deaths per unit of time. All populations have a birth rate, and death rate and a growth rate. The growth rate is dependent on the birth and death rates.
Population growth occurs when births exceed deaths, while population decline occurs when deaths exceed births. When the number of births in a population is equal to the number of deaths, then there is zero population growth and the size of the population remains unchanged.
If a small population is introduced into a favourable environment with an abundance of resources, this population may go through exponential or continuously increasing growth. Many populations experience exponential growth in the early stages of colonising a habitat. This is because they take over an unexploited niche, or drive other populations out of a more profitable one. However, if a population continues to grow exponentially, they eventually reach an upper limit of the resources available. This normally causes a dramatic decline because of some calamity such as starvation, disease or competition from other species.
Generally, populations of plants and animals that experience cycles of exponential growth are those species that:
- Produce many young
- Provide little in the way of parental care
- Produce an abundance of seeds, with little food reserves.
These species are usually short-lived, disperse rapidly and can colonise harsh or disturbed environments (known as r-selected species or r-strategist species). Such organisms are called opportunistic species. Examples of opportunistic species in Australia are weeds such as Hedera helix, or ivy. They do not experience a dormant period here as they do where they occur naturally and have thrived to the point of harming indigenous plant species.
Other populations can initially grow exponentially, but then their growth becomes logistical. That is, the growth slows as the population increases. It then levels off as the limits of the carrying capacity of the environment are reached (k-selected species). Through various regulatory mechanisms, these populations maintain equilibrium between their numbers and the available resources. Animals with such a population growth produce fewer young, but the young are provided with parental care. For example, plants produce larger seeds with considerable food reserves.
Such organisms are long-lived, have low dispersal rates and are poor colonisers of disturbed habitats. They also respond to changes in population density through changes in birth and death rates, as opposed to dispersal; as the population approaches the limit of the available resources, the birth rate declines, and the mortality of both the young and the adult population increases. An example here is kangaroos, who adjust their birth rates to the existing environment, often having no offspring during periods of drought and delivering additional live births during periods when food and water is plentiful.
Tips for Getting a Job (or a promotion)
What Study Gets You a Job?
- Put yourself in the employers shoes -they get dozens (sometimes
hundreds) of people competing for the same job.Their choices are usually
based upon lots of different things (Your studies are part of their
consideration, but only part)
- People who stand out from other applicants get the job; so you need to do things to make yourself stand out.
Why Study then, if Qualified People are Unemployed?
Having a qualification may be no guarantee for work; but what you
learn from a good course does greatly increase your opportunities to be
Getting the Qualification is not as important as Learning what Employers Seek
Employers today look for all of the following:
- Ability to communicate well verbally: clearly and effectively with co-workers and clients.
- Ability to write in a concise, clear and accurate fashion.
- Computer skills -not important everywhere; but IT skills are important in an increasing range of jobs.
- Capacity to solve problems; fast when needed, and systematically and in detail when required
- Natural Efficiency -some people do things fast (naturally);
others do things slow. Where an employer sees an indication of speed
without compromising accuracy, the applicant can have an edge.
- Awareness of 'state of play' in the industry.
- Knowledge and skills that are pertinent to the job.
- A thirst for learning -demonstrated by networking within
industry, volunteering to get experience, memberships to clubs,
societies, associations; reading literature
- Psychology and Personality -Employers are increasingly cautious
about employing people who may not be a team player. Psychological
profiling is used increasingly by employers to gain some insights into a
- Presentation and Grooming -people who present as being well organised and well groomed will impress.
How then can Doing a Course help Get a Job?
- Study can help a lot if it focuses on developing all of the things employers look for (the points above -and more).
- Courses at ACS and with our affiliate colleges do this -but not all colleges or universities have trhe same focus today.
What Can You do to Improve Your Career Prospects?
- Study a course for the right reasons and with the right attitude
-Be open to learning, use the course to build a foundation, but
understand that study is only the starting point, and that career
success depends upon continuing your learning throughout your whole
career, by reading, attending conferences, networking, being involved
with colleagues, etc.
- Study a course that makes you stand out -a qualification that is
different to all the other applicants will always catch the attention
of a boss, and may be the difference between getting an interview or
- Build a mix of skills that is not the same as everyone else -if
you study different modules at a different school, join different
associations, volunteer for different organisations, network with
different people -you will stand out from the crowd.
- Make sure your C.V. is really good -get help if you need it
(tutors at this school will help our students with their C.V.'s if you
ask - no cost. Resume Writing services can also be used, but they charge)
- Recognise your weaknesses, and work on improving them -not just academically.