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Competency Framework


About the Competency Framework >>

The Structure of the Competency Framework >>

Competence Themes >>

Competence Levels >>

Competency Matrix >>

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About the Competency Framework

Competences are the skills, knowledge, abilities and personal attributes that are essential to perform certain functions and which are critical to succeed in specific roles. They are what are expected of an individual in areas and levels of performance. A competency framework defines the knowledge, skills, and attributes needed by the people working in an organisation or particular profession.

The purpose of CIEEM’s competency framework is to:

  • specify the component competences for the profession and the knowledge and skills on which they are based;
  • enable the identification of competence-based professional role profiles and definitions;
  • provide a career and continuing professional development planning tool for practitioners;
  • support CIEEM’s careers advice and careers guidance; and
  • inform competence-based assessment of membership eligibility at different grades, including chartered status, as a means of promoting standards of practice.

CIEEM’s competency framework enables you to identify the competences required for a role within the profession and map your own suitability and effectiveness for that role. You can then see whether you have the skills, knowledge and abilities required to fill different roles, enabling you to better plan your career progression. Employers can assess applicants against a range of standard competence criteria.

The launch of the CIEEM competency framework follows extensive development work IEEM working in conjunction with Cresswell (a Hyder Consulting Company). The organisations consulted in developing the framework include: ALGE, The Bat Conservation Trust, Hyder Consulting, Environment Agency, IEMA, Lantra and Natural England.

The competency framework is necessarily very generic at this stage and is designed so that users can apply the competences to their own work context such as a land manager, consultant, academic researcher, local authority ecologist, statutory agency adviser or regulator, policymaker and any other such role covered by our membership. It is hoped that future development work will include working with specialist organisations to produce more context-specific versions of the framework.
The information shown here is available as a PDF document to download as guidelines on using the competency framework.

Download the a copy of the User Guide here >>

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The Structure of the Competency Framework

CIEEM’s competency framework:

  • defines the 14 competence themes or for the industry (subdivided into those technical themes related to ecology and environmental management, and those associated with appropriate transferable skills);
  • defines the four levels of competence (Basic < Capable < Accomplished < Authoritative) of an individual for the various themes;
  • and presents a competency matrix (in a spreadsheet format) that:
  • provides an overview of the competency required for each theme, at each of the four competency levels;
  • provides a list of typical tasks - termed the Performance Indicators (PI) - that you should be able to do for each theme. Please note that this list is not exhaustive and you will be able to identify other tasks that you do that fit under the themes and sub-themes. Similarly some of the tasks may not be relevant to your experience or role
  • provides a list of what you should know – the Knowledge – needed for each theme.

* The spreadsheet also provides an opportunity for self-assessment of the themes (or indeed assessment by a line manager) by scoring on a scale of 1-4 (i.e. Basic – Authoritative); and

* The spreadsheet also provides some additional sources of information relating to the theme, including links to guidelines and sources of relevant techniques.

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Competence Themes

The competency framework emphasises ecological and appropriate environmental management competences (technical) and the professional competences that can be carried over from one activity to another (transferable).

There are 14 themes, split into seven technical themes and seven transferable themes. The themes themselves are further divided into sub-themes – 46 in total. You are not expected to have competence in all themes as it will depend on your role and experience. Similarly within each theme it is possible that some of the sub-themes will not be relevant to you.

Download an overview of the Competence Themes here >>

Technical themes Transferable themes
Surveying Professional conduct
Environmental management Business management
Environmental assessment Project management
Environmental governance, legislation and policy Information management
Scientific method People management
Facilitation, consultation, engagement and partnering Self management
Public awareness and education Health and Safety

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Competence Levels

The competency framework defines four levels of competence: Basic, Competent, Accomplished and Authoritative. In summary these are:

Basic: Has a basic knowledge, with a simple understanding of terminology and concepts. Has some experience of practical application and would be able to carry out standard activities, under supervision.

Competent: Has the knowledge and experience essential to carry out standard activities unsupervised confidently and consistently. Is likely to need to seek advice before carrying out complex or non-standard activities.

Accomplished: Has the knowledge and experience of this activity to carry out complex, specialist or non-standard tasks confidently and consistently. Is aware of alternative options and approaches and can provide guidance, instruction and advice to others on this activity.

Authoritative: Is widely recognised as an authority, both by others within the organisation and/or by external peers for the knowledge and experience they demonstrate in relation to this activity.

 Download an overview of the Competence Levels here >>

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Competency Matrix

The competency matrix has been developed as a spreadsheet, with a series of linked worksheets running along the bottom. The initial worksheet provides a brief overview on the competence required for each sub-theme, following the four levels Basic, Capable, Accomplished and Authoritative.

Download a copy of the Competency Framework Summary here >>


For each of the 14 themes there are two further linked worksheets: Performance Indicators and Knowledge.

  • The Performance Indicator (PI) worksheets list a range of typical tasks you should be able to do relating to that topic.
  • The Knowledge worksheets list what you will need to know to be fully competent in that sub-theme. Some links to additional sources of information relating to the sub-themes have been included and these will be added to over time.

Download a copy of the Competence Themes Descriptors here >> 

Download a copy of the Full Competency Framework here (Microsoft Excel format) >>

We have included a self assessment tool in the PI worksheet of the competency matrix. You can score (on a scale of 1-4, i.e. Basic to Authoritative or na if not applicable) yourself against the competence themes/sub-themes, and produce a simple spider diagram that indicates where your individual strengths exist and where further training and development would help to increase your competences where relevant. You should only score for themes and sub-themes that are relevant to you. You will not be given a mean score if you do not perform enough of the PI tasks for a sub-theme to allow a useful mean to be calculated. The summary ‘spiders’ in the ‘Your overall results’ tab are at the ‘theme’ level and do not take account of any sub-theme competences that are not relevant or you have not achieved a measurable score in so are indicative only. An example ‘overall’ spider diagram is shown below. An example spider diagram is shown below:

Sample Spider Diagram

The most useful level of the competence matrix, and the level for which you will find the assessment tool most helpful, is the sub-theme level because this relates to the criteria for CIEEM membership and Chartered Ecologist registration. At the bottom of each of the PI worksheets you will see a spider diagram for that theme broken down by sub-theme, such as the example below. 

When using the competency matrix it is important to remember that you will have a range of competences at different levels and, as you go through your career you will change the level you have achieved in some, many or all of the sub-themes, depending on the type of job that you are doing. In some cases you may become less competent in some areas (if you are using those skills less for example) and gain competence in others.

Individuals can use the competency matrix to self-assess against existing and developing competences, plot career paths and identify appropriate training. Line managers can use it to assess staff and team competences, identifying strengths and gaps, potential objectives and training needs. Employers can use it to create job descriptions and to draw up advertisements for new staff. CIEEM itself will use it to support a competence-based assessment of membership eligibility and to underpin our CPD programme. We will also be producing a suite of role profiles descriptions based on the required competences.


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We welcome feedback on the content and functionality of the competency framework. Please email your comments to

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