2015 practitioners' survey: Salaries by sector and firm size

10th April 2015

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Jonathan Kenney

Business and industry once again have higher salaries than other sectors.

Figure 1 shows the median salary for environment and sustainability professionals by broad economic sector. As seen in previous surveys, practitioners working in business or industry maintain a healthy lead over those in other sectors, with a median annual salary of £41,000. Those working for consultancies can expect to earn a median £36,380, while salaries in academia or research (£35,000) and the public sector (£34,000) are not far behind.

Salaries for environment and sustainability professionals in the voluntary or third sector – at a median £28,250 – are a little lower. It should be noted that these findings do not include any elements of pay in addition to basic salary, such as bonuses, which may boost earnings in the private sector more than others.

Figure 1 Salary by broad industrial sector

These figures contrast with national statistics showing that median salaries for public servants are slightly higher (£24,302) than they are in the private sector (£21,259), according to the annual survey of hours and earnings (ASHE) carried out by the Office for National Statistics. For environment and sustainability practitioners the reverse tends to be true.

Overall, the figures in the 2015 IEMA practitioners’ survey show respondents’ salaries to be comfortably higher than the median, gross annual salary for all workers as published in ASHE. This was £22,044 in 2014. A more accurate figure for comparison is the median for all professional occupations, which ASHE 2014 found is £33,624 a year, while the median annual salary nationally for those classed as managers, directors and senior officials stands at £37,573. Although not directly comparable with the findings of the IEMA survey, it is worth noting that the annual median salary for an “environment professional” is £29,028, according to ASHE.

Across the economy, earnings tend to be higher on average in the largest firms and lower among the small and medium-sized enterprises. Similarly, the IEMA practitioners’ survey finds median earnings to be highest in organisations with more than 1,000 employees, with practitioners earning £40,000 a year at the midpoint, falling back to £37,000 in organisations with 251 to 999 employees; £35,000 in those with 10 to 249 employees; and £32,000 in micro firms.

The exception to this rule is the median salary for practitioners operating as sole traders, which, at £37,750, is higher than in most other categories. This is likely to be because many self-employed practitioners will be experienced professionals operating at a senior consultant or specialist level.

Read the full 2015 pracitioners’ survey results:

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