New NAEM Research Identifies Five EHS Career Stages

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New NAEM Research Identifies Five EHS Career Stages

EHS & Sustainability Career Profiles & Skills for Success
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New NAEM Research Identifies Five EHS Career Stages:

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015 - 11:00am

WASHINGTON, DC -- The National Association for Environmental Management will be releasing a research report in November that examines the core competencies, attributes, and responsibilities of EHS professionals at different stages of their career. 

This report continues NAEM’s ongoing research series which aims to provide a comprehensive benchmark of the corporate EHS and sustainability profession.  In doing this research, NAEM also hopes to give greater visibility to a vital and growing job function in the business world.  With positions at the majority of the Fortune 500 companies as well as an increasing number of mid-sized companies, EHS professionals operate in service of global environmental conservation, sustainability, and the creation of safe and healthy workplaces.  They are being increasingly called on to address business challenges such as risk assessment and supply chain-related issues.

Nearly 500 responses from employees of more than 300 companies comprise the latest study, titled EHS Career Profiles and Skills for Success.

A key finding of the report is that EHS career trajectory is less strongly correlated with job title or level of education than with the responsibilities that EHS professionals have and the skills they employ.   Based on qualitative and quantitative data on EHS skills and responsibilities, the report identifies discrete career stages that describe an advancing EHS professional’s role and defining attributes: ‘0-5 Years, Early-career Managers’; ‘6-10 Years, Advancing Managers’; ‘11-15 Years, Emerging Leaders’; ‘16-20 Years, Advancing Leaders’; and ‘21+ Years, Experienced Decision-Makers’.   

The study found that years of experience affect how an EHS professional will use their skills. For example, those in the first five years of their career will focus more on task-based work requiring updated technical knowledge, whereas employees in a mid-career position (6-15 years) are tasked with more management responsibilities. By comparison, those in the “experienced decision makers” category (21+ years) focus on organizational strategy, including risk management, company design and succession planning.

“Technical knowledge, business acumen and interpersonal skills are the three core aspects of an EHS professional’s skill set,” the report states. As careers progress, however, these core competencies are applied differently.  For example, a technical aptitude was found to be vital for early-career managers, whereas interpersonal skills grow more important in mid-to-late career stages. 

The full report will contain detailed analysis for each profile within as well as across career stages, including:

  • Top Activities by Years of Experience
  • Technical and Business Skills
  • Most Critical Attributes and Behaviors
  • Shared vs. Owned Responsibilities
  • Oversight vs. Direct Execution of Tasks
  • Technical and Business Knowledge Areas
  • Salaries
  • Relative Importance of EHS Competencies in Different Career Stages
  • Top Degrees and Certifications

EHS leaders, HR professionals, and management consulting companies can use data from the full report to inform decisions on:

  • Hiring/EHS team development
  • Defining job responsibilities
  • Knowing who/when to promote
  • Salary of new employees and pay increases

Register to attend a free informational webinar showing findings from NAEM’s benchmarking research on November 12th at 1:00 PM ET:

For additional information on the EHS Career Profiles report, please visit NAEM’s site: 

An executive summary containing an overview and full list of figures will be published in advance of the report.  Please contact Evan Hart at to request a copy of the Executive Summary, which will be delivered upon release.  

NAEM also produces research on EHS Software and Data Management, Leading-Edge Metrics, and Trends in EHS & Sustainability Management.  For information and to download other reports, please visit:

Keywords: Education | HR | Research | Staffing | ehs | hiring | naem | national association for environmental management | sustainability