National Occupational Standards for Environmental Employment

Defining the Scope of Environmental Competencies in Canada

Environmental practice is vast and is part of every industry. These standards are comprehensive definitions as to what it means to work in environmental protection, resource mangement and sustainabilty.

National occupatonal standards

Foundational Resources for Every Stakeholder Group

Since the 1990s, we have operated under a mandate to ensure an adequate supply of people with the skills and knowledge to meet the human resource needs of the Canadian environmental sector.

A key part of our activity has involved developing National Occupational Standards (NOS) for environmental work. The NOS express the skills and knowledge an individual must exhibit in order to be considered in their occupation.

Since the initial inception of the establishment of the environmental sector, these standards have served as the framework for certification of Environmental Professionals EP® in Canada. They are also used extensively as a self-assessment resource for practitioners, a recruitment screening tool for employers, and a guide for educators to develop career-driven post-secondary environmental curriculums for their students.

The Environmental Sector is based on the following three sub-sectors and 16 specializations

IA Venn diagram EN


  • Air Quality
  • Water Quality
  • Site Assessment
    & Reclamation 
  • Waste Management
  • Health & Safety


  • Energy
  • Fisheries & Wildlife
  • Natural Resource Management


  • Sustainability
  • Education & Training
  • Research & Development
  • Policy & Legislation
  • Communication &
    Public Awareness


  • Impact Assessment Practitioner
  • Impact Assessment Reviewer


  • Environmental Manager

Download the Occupational Standards

This dictionary of competencies consists of 332 technical skill statements, 42 transferable skills and 12 areas of awareness:

Technical competencies: statements describing the demonstrated ability to perform a task to the satisfaction of the employer or otherwise established norms.

Transferable competencies: statements describing a behaviour or “soft skill” that may contribute to the successful performance of various technical tasks in the area of practice.

Areas of Awareness: knowledge requirements shared commonly by environmental workers.

The NOS dictionary is used independently and to build occupational profiles consisting of grouped competencies in a particular area of practice. Profiles are primarily used for certification by allowing a particular candidate to measure their skills against the NOS.

Diving deeper

Other Competency Reporting Resources

The competency dictionary is used independently and to build occupational profiles consisting of grouped competencies in a particular area of practice. Profiles are primarily used for certification of environmental professionals by allowing applicants to evaluate their skills against the NOS. We also have reports that feature niche roles or areas of practice separate from the original standards.

This includes:

How The Standards Are Used

As environmental employment continues to develop and mature, ensuring a common language in terms of knowledge and skills is among the most critical issues for the success of the entire environmental industry.

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