In this post I thought we could look at IEMA and NEBOSH approaches to environmental management qualifications. By comparing the two approaches at the foundation and advanced levels it might help you choose which is best for you if you want to undertake a formalised environmental management qualification.
Firstly, let’s look at the foundation level. These are a good place to start if you have no formal knowledge of environmental management and provide a solid foundation in environmental management. At this level we have the IEMA Foundation Certificate in Environmental Management and the NEBOSH Environmental Management Certificate. We will call them the IEMA Foundation and NEBOSH EMC from now on! Both qualifications, if delivered in the classroom or live online, tend to be 5 days in total. And obviously take as long as you need, within reason, if completed via e-learning. So as you would expect both are of a broadly equal length of time.
Although the content of the two qualifications is similar the IEMA Foundation does tend to be more biassed towards sustainable development, whereas the NEBOSH EMC is more focused on assessing and controlling environmental risk (although there is a module on sustainability). For example, the NEBOSH EMC is largely categorised by environmental management themes such as impact assessment, air pollution, water pollution and waste whereas the IEMA Foundation is more broader.
A key difference is how the qualifications are assessed. The NEBOSH EMC is assessed via a scenario based open book exam that is completed over 24 hours. The amount of questions vary but it is usually between 6 and 8. The exam paper is downloaded, completed by the student and then uploaded and marked. You must also undertake an assignment in the form of an environmental aspects and impacts assessment. See HERE for more details. The IEMA Foundation consists of a 1 hour multiple-choice exam of 30 questions that is completed online at any location with internet access. There is no assignment. The pass mark for the IEMA Foundation is 70%. And for the NEBOSH EMC is 45% for the exam and either pass or refer based on compliance with certain criteria for the assignment. You must achieve a pass separately in each. The IEMA Foundation, if you are successful, will allow you to achieve the academic requirements for associate level membership of IEMA.
The more high-level general qualifications for environmental management from the two organisations are the NEBOSH Diploma in Environmental Management and the IEMA Certificate in Environmental Management. These are both designed for people who need a more detailed knowledge of environmental management such as those who are or aspire to be fully fledged environmental practitioners. There is a greater commitment required for both these qualifications. For example they take 15 days of teaching time in the classroom or live online. For the NEBOSH Env. Diploma content is structured into various elements covering environmental themes such as sustainability, air pollution, waste etc. The second unit of the course largely covers environmental law (either UK or International depending on which stream you decide to take). For the IEMA certificate there is a very big emphasis in the first unit on sustainable development, following this there are various environmental management topics covered.
The assessment for the NEBOSH Environmental Diploma is a three-hour closed book exam, taken at an exam centre, that consists of answering five questions out of a choice of eight. They usually require a long answer. You will also need to complete a project that is a review of an organisation’s environmental management system that requires development of a report of 8000 – 12000 words. The pass mark is 45% for the exam and 50% for the assignment. You can find out more about the project HERE. For the IEMA certificate you will need to complete an assignment for each of the three units (and a competency assessment if you want to apply for Practitioner Membership). Then you will need to send your answers to your training provider to be marked. The pass mark for each assignment is 50%.
That is the two sets of qualifications! If you are totally new to environmental management or don’t feel confident enough to complete one of the higher-level qualifications or your job role only requires a basic knowledge of environmental management then I would consider either the NEBOSH EMC or the IEMA Foundation. The content is similar, but the IEMA Foundation is more orientated towards sustainability and a relatively higher level of understanding of environmental management. The NEBOSH qualification is a little more practical in nature.
If you need a more detailed knowledge of environmental management for whatever reason – for example your job demands it, then consider the NEBOSH Env. Diploma or IEMA Certificate. Both are solid qualifications covering similar topics. There is more emphasis on law in the NEBOSH Diploma qualification and more on sustainability for the IEMA Certificate.
It very much depends on the individual circumstances as to which will be best for you. Look at what we have discussed above regarding each qualification and consider which one fits in best with what you want to learn, what is your favoured form of assessment and what you need to know for your job. If you have completed a NEBSOH qualification or IEMA qualification before and enjoyed the structure and were successful, then maybe continue with that body’s qualification. If you are still unsure about which is best for you then don’t hesitate to contact us at RRC for further advice.
John Binns BSc (Hons), MSc, MIEMA
With over 19 years’ experience working in environment management, John Binns BSc (Hons) MSc MIEMA is an experienced environmental tutor and consultant with knowledge of health and safety management.