Based on earnings, development opportunities, challenges and satisfaction ratings of the profession, the survey – released yesterday (4 April) reveals that 82% of IEMA members now consider themselves to be ‘satisfied’ at work, exceeding the national average by 5%.

The survey offers a three-fold explanation for these highly positive satisfaction levels: a highly-qualified workforce with in-depth relevant knowledge; high levels of employer support for personal development; and the rewarding nature of work.

Moreover, all-time high salaries in the profession last year saw the average pay rise for environment and sustainability professionals outstrip the national average by 2.5%. Sustainability employees also have clear potential for significant gains in earnings, with the top annual wage recorded at £700,000.

High industry earnings correlate with a skilled workforce, according to the survey, as 93% of environment and  sustainability professionals have obtained academic qualifications – at least 38% acquired a Bachelor’s degree or other postgraduate qualification and a further 55% have a Masters or Doctorate.

In 2015, the average earning for an environment and sustainability professional amounted to £43,812 – almost 60% higher than the national average wage of £27,000. Entry-level postgraduates can now expect to earn up to £24,500 – an increase of £500 on the previous year.

‘Right direction’

Commenting on the findings, IEMA chief executive Tim Balcon said:  “It’s encouraging to see the environment and sustainability profession outperforming national trends for pay and satisfaction. Let’s not forget this is a relatively new profession so the year-on-year progress that positively screams from this survey is really impressive.

“This is a group of people who really bring their best to their work and the ability to make a difference is proving to be as satisfying as it is rewarding. The number of our members who feel very happy with their careers is up 11% in just one year which I think is proof that this is a profession that is heading in the right direction, and fast.

“UK Plc is seeing the value and opportunity in boosting environment and sustainability performance and is suitably rewarding the professionals responsible for keeping their business in business.”

Generation S

The report findings highlight a broader trend of an increasing number of employee candidates who actively seek a career which is ‘ethical’ in nature.

In January, another IEMA study showed that the new generation of sustainability professionals – dubbed ‘Generation S’ – are now basing their employment decisions on company mantras and environmental performance rather than money.

At the time, Balcon said: “Environment and sustainability roles are rewarding careers – with high job satisfaction levels. With the economy becoming increasingly dependent on environment and sustainability skills, it’s great to see that many who boast these skills are enjoying their roles to such a high level.”

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IEMA at edie Live

The Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment is one of the partners of the upcoming edie Live conference 17-18 May. This free two-day event allows businesses to explore innovations, be inspired and discover new technology solutions for building a more sustainable business.

View the full edie Live agenda and register to attend for free here.

George Ogleby

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