Survey results published this week by the U.K.-based Institute of Environment Management & Assessment (IEMA) show that Environment and Sustainability Professionals are highly satisfied workers who find their jobs personally, professionally and financially rewarding.
82 percent of IEMA members reported they are satisfied with their career – the highest figure ever recorded for this group. It is also higher than the local national average: The U.K.’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that 77.6 percent of U.K. workers consider themselves satisfied at work.
In comparison, both of these exceed job satisfaction levels in the United States: Research from The Conference Board shows that U.S. workers report job satisfaction as low as 48.3 percent. According to Gallup’s annual Work and Education survey, employed Americans’ satisfaction with 13 aspects of their current jobs has largely improved in the last decade, but despite these improvements, no more than one in three workers are completely satisfied with their salaries, stress levels, chances for promotion and retirement plans.
IEMA’s annual survey provides some evidence as to why the U.K.’s environmental professionals are so happy at work: salaries are on the rise and are ahead of average national income; workers are highly qualified and keep their knowledge up-to-date; employer support for personal development is high; and the nature of the work is rewarding.
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“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,” commented Tim Balcon, the CEO of the IEMA.
IEMA reported that the average earnings for an Environment & Sustainability professional in 2015 totalled £43,812 – 58 percent above the national average wage of £27,600. Two thirds of the survey respondents reported an official pay rise, and the average 4.46% year-on-year increase in total earnings shows the profession is significantly outperforming the national 2% average. Graduates entering the profession can now expect to earn £24,500 – up £500 on the previous 12 months. The top wage reported totalled £700,000 per annum demonstrating the current earning potential for an Environment & Sustainability professional.
On a less positive note, the profession’s gender pay gap has reached a five-year high, at 16.7%. The analysis shows that the gap starts to appear between ages 25 and 29 and becomes increasingly pronounced. The figure compares with an economy-wide gap in 2015 of 9.4%, which ONS said was the lowest since its annual survey of hours and earnings (ASHE) started in 1997.
Regarding education, 93 percent have academic qualifications, including 55 percent with a Masters or Doctorate degree. In 2015, 91 percent of them undertook some form of training or professional development. 7 in 10 had this learning funded in some way by their employer, 35 percent reported that the learning directly helped them boost their firm’s environmental performance, and 21 percent reported that the training helped their organization save money.
60 percent of respondents said that the profession is challenging, 35 percent said it offers a rewarding career that makes a difference, and 29 percent said it offers variety.
“It’s encouraging to see the Environment & 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,” Balcon said. “Work needs to be done by business to bridge the gender pay gap however; there really is no room for any form of inequality in such a modern and diverse profession that represents the very best professional values.”