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National Occupational Standards for Environmental Employment


Defining the Industry Standard


Download NOS Reports for detailed information on the competencies required to perform successfully in particular environmental occupations including: meteorology, greenhouse gas, and water and wastewater.

The building blocks of ECO Canada’s work to support environmental employment are National Occupational Standards (NOS).

National Occupational Standards are the competencies that environmental practitioners need to perform successfully in a particular occupation. They consist of a set of statements describing the required skills and knowledge for different areas of practice. NOS serve as the benchmarks against which environmental practitioners can measure their level of performance.

All of ECO Canada’s NOS are developed through extensive input from professionals in the field. Using this bottom-up approach and the guidance of senior experts, ECO Canada strives to ensure that the standards are of the highest quality, relevant, and accurate depictions of current and emerging environmental competencies. 


What do National Occupational Standards consist of?

National Occupational Standards feature a set of competency statements that practitioners use to measure or compare their own level of skills and knowledge. NOS consist of 3 different types of competency statements:


  • Core Knowledge Competencies describe a body of knowledge that a professional needs to perform successfully. Based on the diagram below, these core knowledge competencies form the basis for overall competency in environmental work;
  • Transferable Competencies build off of core knowledge and describe essential or soft skills that contribute to the successful performance of technical work; and
  • Technical Competencies describe the ability to perform a task or a series of activities that together produce a measurable result.


How are National Occupational Standards developed?

All of ECO Canada’s NOS are developed according to a rigorous methodology that engages professionals at every step of the process:

Step 1: Define & Document
Work with senior advisors to create a clear definition for the occupation. Once the occupation is defined in terms of responsibility and scope, ECO Canada consults existing literature and works with professionals to document required competencies.

Step 2: Verify
Conduct a series of national focus groups to verify the accuracy and validity of competency statements.

Step 3: Survey
Launch a national online survey asking professionals to rate the importance of each competency statement relative to their own areas of specialization. The competency statements and rating are then arranged into competency profiles for each main area.

Step 4: Validate
Conduct a final series of national focus groups to validate the newly created competency profiles. This ensures that ratings assigned to each statement accurately measure each area of specialization.


How often are the National Occupational Standards updated?

National Occupational Standards are updated approximately every 5 years to ensure they continue to reflect emerging areas in an ever-changing environmental industries.


How are the National Occupational Standards used?

In addition to being used as a guide for hiring practices, National Occupational Standards are also used to:

  • Inform employment models
  • Educate students about environmental professions
  • Help professionals meet the standards of their profession
  • Develop training curricula

In some cases, NOS may even be used by organizations for inform pay grades for employees.


Most notably, National Occupational Standards form the basis for all certification programs offered through ECO Canada. Learn more about ECO Canada's EP certification »