2014 IEMA practitioners' survey

17th March 2014

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Jim Hopwood

IEMA's seventh annual poll of its members finds high levels of job satisfaction and rising numbers of 'career changers'

The 2014 IEMA practitioners' survey takes place against a more optimistic economic outlook. According to the latest official data, unemployment is falling and the UK economy is growing. While there seems to have been little positive impact on pay levels across the labour market so far, the majority of environment professionals responding to the survey benefited from a salary increase in 2013.

Median annual pay for environment professionals ranges from £25,000 for a Graduate member up to £66,100 for a Fellow, though most survey respondents are positioned at the Associate membership level and can expect to earn an annual income of around £37,700.

The survey results indicate that many factors influence the level of pay an environment professional can command. In addition to IEMA membership level and experience in the field, qualifications and the sector in which members work also play a strong role. For instance, those based in private industry tend to enjoy the highest salaries, with members working in mining and quarrying earning the highest median annual salary, at £57,000. Demographic factors such as age and gender also have an impact on practitioners' pay levels.

A major positive finding is that, regardless of income, the majority of practitioners derive a great deal of job satisfaction from their work. Almost two-thirds of members are either satisfied or very satisfied in their role, with this contentment due mainly to the interesting and challenging nature of their job. A high proportion of practitioners consider themselves to be a "career changer", having started their working life in another industry or profession and later made the switch to an environment or sustainability role. This group of professionals are particularly happy in their work.


  • With an average annual pay packet totalling £43,025, IEMA members based in business and industry earn significantly more than their colleagues working in other parts of the economy.
  • Environment professionals working in the mining and quarrying sector enjoy the highest median annual salary, at £57,000, while those based in county councils tend to receive the lowest income, at £30,689.
  • There is a strong correlation between an individual's IEMA membership level and the size of income that he or she enjoys, with Fellows commanding the highest salaries, at £66,100.
  • IEMA members are a generally well-qualified group of professionals, with only a small minority (2.9%) holding no formal academic qualifications.
  • The majority of survey respondents have achieved a high level of status in their organisation, with almost two-thirds (62.3%) employed as a senior officer, project/middle manager or senior manager.
  • Practitioners' earnings are closely aligned to seniority, with more senior roles generally attracting higher earnings - promotion from project or middle manager to senior manager attracts a pay increase of around £11,000, according to the survey results.
  • There is a slight increase in the proportion of IEMA members receiving a pay increase compared with last year's poll. Almost six in 10 (58.9%) reporting that they were awarded a rise in 2013, compared with 56.8% in 2012.
  • For those IEMA members who received a pay award in 2013, the median annual increase to earnings was 3%.
  • Women make up more than one-third (35.8%) of the 2,120 IEMA members who responded to the 2014 online questionnaire.
  • The median annual earnings of male professionals is pegged at £41,200, compared with £35,000 for their female colleagues.
  • Members' most-cited primary area of work is now environment management. In the previous two surveys, health, safety and environment management was the most common area of work.
  • The 2014 results provide a strong indication of the multidisciplinary nature of members' work, with practitioners working across seven different areas on average.
  • A high proportion of practitioners (41.7%) polled consider themselves to be a "career changer", embarking on an environment career at a later stage of their working life.
  • Almost two-thirds of those surveyed (64.6%) remain in the same role in the same organisation, while 13.9% of practitioners are now in a more senior role in the same organisation.
  • The majority of environment professionals are happy in their work - more than two-thirds (70.1%) are either satisfied or very satisfied in their role.

Read the full survey results:

Watch a webinar on the results:

Following the completion of 2014 practitioners' survey, IEMA hosted a webinar discussing the trends seen in sectors that environment professionals are working in, salary levels, and the outlook for the environmental jobs market in 2014. Watch it online here.

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