Application Top Tips and FAQs

We have collated together some of the frequently asked questions the Membership team receive relating to applying for membership. Most of these relate to our competency assessed grades of membership i.e. Associate and Full.  


Can I apply straight to Full membership?

Yes. Use the guidance and tools we have available to assess your level of competence and decide which grade of membership best reflects your skills and experience. 


Can I use two competencies from the same theme, e.g. under Surveying use S1 and S2? 

Yes. More than one competency within the same theme may be relevant to your experience and the work you do. Just make sure you meet the minimum number of technical and transferable competencies required.

What’s the word count?

We suggest you make good use of the 350-word limit. The recommended minimum word count is 250 words, and we do allow applicants to go up to a maximum of 350 words.

How should I structure my evidence?

We suggest you use the STARE method to structure your statements. More detail on this is in the Membership Application Guidance. 

Can I claim more than one level of competence in my application?

For Associate membership you need to demonstrate at least ‘capable’ level competence across all seven of the competencies and for Full membership at least ‘accomplished’ level competence across all seven of the competencies. It is permissible to claim a higher level for an individual competency, but remember that there may be no need to in order to demonstrate the minimum required standard.

Do I need to provide evidence such as reports/management plans or scientific papers?

No. We do not ask for you to attach any additional reports or papers. You should, however, refer to them within your competency statements.

Do I have to provide evidence for the entire competency descriptor? 

No. You need to make sure you have addressed the majority, but not all, of the points within the competency descriptor. We recommend you also look at the general description of the level of competence you are claiming too, alongside the detailed descriptor for each competency chosenThis will give you a better idea of what the assessors are expecting to see within your evidence.   

I don’t work in a mainstream ecology/environmental manager role so I’m not sure what competencies to choose?

We have members from many different professional backgrounds and the Competency Framework is wide-ranging, so there should be competencies within the Framework that apply to your existing skill set. You can choose more than one competency from the same theme, as well as using a third sponsor if you have a varied background. Our Competency Framework covers different levels of competence across a range of competencies and areas within ecology and environmental management. If you are still unsure, please get in touch for advice .

What is considered a complex scenario when evidencing competence?

Where complex scenarios are mentioned in the Competency Framework, applicants should remember that working on a big project does not necessarily mean it is complex as it could in fact be quite a simple project example to use. Applicants should provide evidence of complex scenarios and problem solving associated with them. This might include dealing with different interpretations, views, unexpected results or findings, or other unforeseen circumstances. Complexity is related to problem solving and integrating different, sometimes conflicting elements, not just large amounts of data.

SPONSORS (for Associate and Full)

Who can be a sponsor?

It is preferable, but not essential, that your sponsors are CIEEM members. They should be at the same grade as being applied for or above, and they should ideally have know you for at least 12 months. Sponsors must confirm that the information about your competence and professionalism contained in your application form is correct. To do this they must have sufficient knowledge of the quality of your practice as a professional. We have Guidance for Sponsors  which you should send to your chosen sponsors to assist them.

Can I use sponsors who aren’t members of CIEEM?

 If it is not possible to find CIEEM members to act as sponsors, then non-member sponsors are acceptable. In all cases all sponsors must have knowledge of your work and be able to endorse your competence and integrity as a potential member. All non-member sponsors will need to provide a copy of their CV or work profile to demonstrate their suitability.

What do I do if neither of my sponsors are members of CIEEM?

 All non-member sponsors will need to provide a copy of their CV or work profile to demonstrate their suitability. It will be the applicant’s responsibility to request this information from the non-member sponsors and include it with their application. In these cases, your sponsors’ suitability will be checked by our Membership Operations Manager.

Are both sponsors allowed to be colleagues and from the same organisation/team as each other?

Yes. We understand that colleagues you work with regularly and are best placed to endorse your evidence will often work in the same team as you. 

Does a sponsor have to endorse all of my competencies?

 It is vital that all of your competency choices are endorsed by at least one of your sponsorsAs long as between them all of your claimed competencies are endorsed we will be able to process your application.  

Can I use additional sponsors?

Yes. Although we do not state this in our guidance document, we do have occasions where members need to ask a third person to sponsor them. If you want to discuss this option with one of the Membership Team please do. If you do end up submitting a form with more than two sponsors you must make it as clear as possible as to which sponsor is supporting each competency. Each sponsor will need to have filled out a sponsor declaration page.

Can I use sponsors from a while ago, e.g. a previous job I had 18 months ago?

That’s fine if they are happy to endorse your statements and are able to support your examples/evidence that you use. Please remember though that significantly older examples may not justify claims of current competence.


Our top 10 application tips 

We have pulled together some useful information and top tips from our volunteer assessors to read before you get started on completing your application form.

  1. Get to know our Competency Framework 

Spend some time getting familiar with the Competency Framework. It is divided into two main sections: 

  • Technical Competencies – Relating specifically to the application of ecological and environmental knowledge and understanding.
  • Transferable Competencies – Professional competencies that can be carried over from one activity or role to another.

You will need to choose a combination of competencies from both of these sections as part of your application. Make sure to look at both the general competency description as well as the more detailed descriptor linked to the level of competence you are applying for.  

  1. Professional Conduct – a mandatory competency

Whether applying for Associate or Full membership you must be able to demonstrate an understanding of the ethical dilemmas that an ecologist or environmental manager may encounter, how to conduct oneself to avoid behaving inappropriately, and how to help those less experienced.  

  1. Assessors need all the facts

It is important that you take the opportunity to give the assessors an overview of your career and achievements to date. The assessors can only reach a decision on your application based on the information you provide, so if you refer to a specific role, project, qualification or licence in your evidence of competence, make sure you provide sufficient detail.  

  1. Get your sponsors involved early

We strongly recommend you discuss your application with the sponsors you have in mind to support you. This gives you the opportunity to talk through suitable examples and projects you may have worked on together. Getting your sponsors engaged at an early stage will help ensure you have their full support for the evidence you intend to supply. 

  1. Don’t rush your application 

You should take time to consider the impression that the overall standard of your application gives. We encourage you to take the time to read your application again to satisfy yourself that it represents you well. You may wish to complete a draft of your form on a separate document so that you can use tools such as spellcheck. Incomplete or incorrectly completed application forms will be returned to you and will delay the assessment process. Please help yourself by taking the time to get it right first time.  

  1. Do not make assumptions

Our volunteer assessors are all experienced members of the Institute but, like you, they have particular specialisms and will not have an in depth knowledge of all areas of our Competency Framework. If you make reference to any less common acronyms, be sure to explain them in full to begin with. In addition, our assessors are based all over the UK, Ireland and beyond so will not necessarily have knowledge of acronyms, systems or projects specific to your locality or area of specialism. Be sure to provide information on the scale and complexity of projects rather than assuming the assessors will know about them already.   

  1. Provide details and be specific

Be sure to provide a sufficient amount of detail in your evidence. Avoid making sweeping statements or generalisations and remember the assessors expect to see details of specific examples within your evidence. Make it clear to assessors that you possess the skills needed for a particular competency even if mentioned elsewhere in your form.   

  1. Keep referring back to the Competency Framework

As you start to compile your evidence you may find that your examples are better suited to a different competency. Make sure you regularly refer to the Competency Framework to ensure your evidence addresses both the general competency descriptor as well as the descriptor for the specific level of competency you are applying for. This is important as assessors will not be taking into consideration information provided elsewhere in your form, unless you directly reference it.   

  1. Use STARE

We recommend using this approach to structure your evidence regarding specific examples because it works well. Assessors need to see examples in your evidence and the STARE structure gives you the framework to provide the information they are looking for. Ensure you do not miss the ‘E’ for evaluation as this is a really crucial point for our assessors.   

  1. Things to avoid

Lists or a series of declarations does not tell our assessors how well you do something or how it was regarded by others. Do not leave room for doubt. If you have done an activity for the last 20 years explain why you are good at it.