Practitioners' survey 2017 - the highlights

9th March 2017

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Related tags

  • Skills ,
  • CPD ,
  • Qualifications ,
  • Training


Caroline Coletto

Annual survey of IEMA members reveals modest pay growth but gender gap persists

Although uncertainty abounds as 2017 progresses, environment and sustainability professionals are expressing high levels of job satisfaction and optimism that they can meet the challenges of the year ahead. Almost seven in ten are satisfied or very satisfied with their current role, with just 6% dissatisfied, according to the latest IEMA practitioners’ survey.

On their single biggest challenge or opportunity for 2017, IEMA members are focused mainly on understanding how changing laws and regulations will affect their work. Improving work–life balance, changing jobs, upgrading IEMA membership and increasing their overall impact are also high on the agenda. Despite the uncertainties around Brexit and a US president sceptical about anthropogenic climate change, just 17% feel demoralised about the global challenges and unpredictability ahead. They are outnumbered by the 43% who are optimistic, with 35% somewhere in the middle.

On reward, pay growth has been steady, with median earnings – the mid-point in the range – of £39,000, compared with £38,180 a year earlier. A stubbornly wide gender pay difference persists, however. For full-time employees it is 16.7%, much higher than the national figure of 9.4% and the same as we reported a year ago.

The survey reinforces the reputation of the profession for having a strong commitment to continuing professional development (CPD). Some 89% of IEMA practitioners engaged in CPD activities in 2016 to further their career goals. Filling skills gaps (56%), training or mentoring other staff (28%) and improving environmental performance (24%) were regarded as the biggest direct benefits of CPD.

This commitment to development appears to be paying off in terms of the career progression seen in the sector. More than half (56%) of practitioners reached management or leadership positions last year, while 17% moved to more senior roles.

The top findings

  • The median annual salary in the 12 months to January 2017 was £39,000, while the average or mean was £44,008.
  • Median salaries for business and industry roles were higher at £41,000 than those in consultancies (£37,750) or the public sector (£35,547). Salaries were highest in the financial and legal services sector, where the median was £49,000.
  • Some 62% received a pay increase in 2016, but this was down slightly from two-thirds in 2015 and much lower than in 2014, when 73.5% had an uplift. Self-employed members were less likely to benefit from a pay increase, with only 37% reporting a rise in earnings in 2016.
  • By region, the highest median salary was found in eastern Scotland (£41,650), while Northern Ireland had the lowest (£30,558).
  • The gender pay gap for the profession remained at 16.7%. However, full-time women in the 25–29 age bracket earned £2,000 more than their male colleagues at the median.
  • An IEMA Graduate member can expect a starting salary of around £25,000 a year. The median for Practitioner members (PIEMA) is £38,000, while that for a Fellow is £70,900.
  • Almost two-thirds (61%) of those surveyed had a form of postdoctoral qualification, with just 1% having no formal qualifications.
  • Our survey found 3% to be entry-level members, 41% to be IEMA Practitioners and 56% in management or leadership roles. Across the sample, 17% moved into a more senior role in 2016 and 13% switched sideways.
  • Continuing professional development activities were undertaken by 89% of members in 2016. The most popular pursuits were reading the environmentalist and other key materials, and participating in IEMA webinars.
  • Job satisfaction rates are high, especially among ‘career changers’, of whom 80% are happy with the move they have made. Among all respondents, 69% are either satisfied or very satisfied with their current role; just 6% are not.

Read more survey results below:

Practitioners' survey 2017: salaries

Practitioners' survey 2017 - qualifications, roles and job satisfaction


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