Earnings by highest qualification

12th March 2012

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  • Skills ,
  • CPD ,
  • Qualifications



The relationship between environment professionals' rate of pay and their highest level of qualification, as shown by the IEMA practitioners' survey 2012

Survey participants were asked to state their highest academic qualification. More than eight in 10 have an undergraduate or a postgraduate degree – just 3.3% (68 respondents) have no formal qualifications and so respondents form a well-qualified group.

The most common qualification is a master’s degree (44.2% of respondents), followed by a bachelor’s degree (24.6%), postgraduate diploma (11.5%) and higher national certificate or higher national diploma (HNC/HND) (7.2%) and PhD (3.9%).

We matched respondents’ qualifications with the salaries they earn and the results are shown in figure 4 (below). As the chart demonstrates, the general trend is not necessarily that the highest-level qualification attracts the highest total earnings.

Members with doctorates easily top the earnings scale, with median total annual earnings of £44,900. But, perhaps surprisingly at first glance, practitioners with no formal academic qualifications tend to earn, with a salary of £39,000, more than practitioners with other types of academic qualifications.

Those with a bachelor’s degree have median total earnings of £34,000 and even those with a master’s degree, on £35,000, earn £4,000 less than those with no formal qualifications. The difference is less marked for members with an HNC/HND qualification, who receive median total earnings of £38,000, while those with a postgraduate
diploma similarly earn £39,000.

The disparity between the levels of qualification and earnings in our results may be explained by the fact that the profile of those with a bachelor’s or master’s degree is weighted towards the younger end of the age spectrum.

These professionals, in the main, have yet to attain the more senior-level jobs that typically attract higher salaries. Although, on initial inspection, it does not appear that practitioners with bachelor’s or master’s degrees have increased their earnings capacity compared with those with no formal qualifications, this is not necessarily true.

It is very likely that, when these well-qualified individuals apply for top-level positions, their higher qualifications will stand them in very good stead to eventually earn considerably more.

Figure 5 (below) shows that the earnings potential of both male and female environment professionals rises with age, most markedly up to the age of 35–39 for men.

Women’s salaries tend to plateau around the 30–44 age mark – perhaps coinciding with having children, for some female professionals – before rising to £39,300 at the 45–49 age bracket.

This figure represents the highest total pay for female practitioners, whereas their male counterparts can expect to earn their highest pay, of £42,250, when aged between 40 and 44.

Read the full survey results:


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