Routes to IEMA membership: NEBOSH vs. IEMA | EEF

Routes to IEMA membership: NEBOSH vs. IEMA

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ROUTES TO IEMA MEMBERSHIP NEBOSH vs IEMAFollowing the changes to IEMA membership, those looking to get an IEMA Associate or Practitioner membership level can now consider two distinct training routes: NEBOSH or IEMA accredited courses.

Both routes offer the same level of membership, but differ in their approach, and each distinct route will appeal to those from either a predominantly environmental background or to those with a more health and safety based background.

This short guide will help you choose the most suitable route for you.

What are the main differences between the two routes?

Although both routes lead to the same place - an Associate or Practitioner membership level – their paths are different:

IEMA Courses

IEMA offers a broad syllabus that looks at different concepts of sustainability, legislation, global environmental topics, as well as how environmental management affects the future of the business and the environment.

The IEMA training route best suits people interested in environmental management and sustainability roles.

NEBOSH Courses

NEBOSH is less focused on sustainability, and is instead more concentrated around operational control and the practical day-to-day operations of environmental management.

The NEBOSH training route best suits people interested in a predominantly health and safety role who also have responsibility for environmental management.

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What are the assessments of each route?

The way in which each route is assessed differ.

The NEBOSH route focuses more on exams sat after the course has been attended, together with a practical project focusing on workplace risk.

The entry level IEMA associate certificate is examined by an online exam, taken after the course has been attended. The higher level courses are examined by tutor-assessed assignments, focusing on relating the theoretical concepts to the workplace.

Entry level (AIEMA)

IEMA: The 5-day IEMA Foundation Certificate course is assessed by a 20-question multiple choice online exam.

NEBOSH: The 5-day NEBOSH Certificate in Environmental Management course is examined via a separate written exam set by NEBOSH, in addition to a practical workplace audit. 

Operational level (PIEMA)

IEMA: The IEMA Certificate in Environmental Management course will be examined on a modular basis. At the end of each of the three course modules, there will be an assignment to complete which will be assessed by the course provider. To receive the membership, a personal paper outlining the reasons you are suitable for membership is also required.

NEBOSH: The NEBOSH Diploma in Environmental Management course is examined by a practical project, as well as 3-hour written exam. The project is marked by the course tutor against a framework set by NEBOSH, and the exams are set and marked by NEBOSH themselves and taken at set times during the year. To receive the membership, a personal paper outlining the reasons you are suitable for membership is also required.

Note: In addition to PIEMA, successful completion of the NEBOSH Diploma in environmental management meets the academic requirements for non-chartered membership of the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management and also for Specialist membership of The International Institute of Risk & Safety Management (SIIRSM).

Full Membership

IEMA Diploma: The IEMA Diploma in Sustainable Business Practice, provides delegates with the knowledge required to meet full membership of IEMA criteria, it is assessed by three assignments, one for each course module. 

Note: a full membership application and interview must also be successfully completed to achieve the IEMA full membership level (MIEMA).

NEBOSH: Due to the level of expertise and the requirement for strategic sustainability knowledge there is no equivalent NEBOSH qualification at this level. Completing the NEBOSH route up to NEBOSH Diploma in Environmental Management will, however, meet the entry criteria for the IEMA Diploma in Sustainable Business Practice course. 

Which route do employers prefer?

There is no black and white answer to this question. In general, when hiring environmental managers employers tend to look for IEMA membership levels rather than specific qualifications. What matters in the end is not the route but the end result – the membership level.

Having said that, some employers may prefer someone who has completed the IEMA route for a purely corporate sustainability or environmental management role. Whereas, it may not make as much difference for an employer hiring a site health, safety and environment manager as either route will provide the knowledge and skills necessary for the role.

Advice on the right development for you

Talk to one of our advisers to review your options and develop a professional development plan that’s right for you.
Call our training team on 0845 293 9850.    


National sustainability Lead and Area Lead - North

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