EHS management blog


7 EHS Manager Skills to Develop This Year

One of the ways EHS managers make themselves more valuable is by constantly acquiring new skills.

That’s true whether you’re looking to advance your career, increase your salary, or simply do your job more effectively.

But before you invest any time or money in professional development, you need to know which skills are valued in your field.

To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of 7 in-demand EHS manager skills to develop. While we’ve noticed each of these skills in our own interactions with EHS managers, we didn’t rely on our personal observations for this article.

Instead, we looked at data from career sites including Payscale, CareerBuilder, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor, as well as job postings from a wide range of companies.

Top EHS manager skills to develop

  1. Computer skills
  2. Leadership
  3. Communication
  4. Writing
  5. Risk management
  6. Environmental compliance
  7. Knowledge of regulations

1. Computer skills:

In this digital age, mastering standard programs like Microsoft Word and Excel is no longer enough. As companies adopt more sophisticated software tools, they’re seeking out employees with the skills to leverage these systems. Cloud computing is the #1 most in-demand technical skill in 2019, according to LinkedIn’s research.

Other tools EHS managers will need to be familiar with include:

2. Leadership:

Strengthening your leadership skills is one of the best investments you can make in your career. In fact, salary data from Payscale shows that EHS managers with strong leadership skills earn on average 3% more than their peers — a hefty raise by any standard.

If you’ve ever worked for a strong leader, you’ll immediately understand why employees with these skills are able to command top dollar. A strong leader makes all the difference in employee engagement, motivation, and performance. They’re able to promote a positive safety culture and maintain a safe work environment.

Clearly, it’s worth taking the time to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and seek out training or coaching to help you become a better leader.

3. Communication:

Communication skills are important no matter what field you’re in. But they’re especially vital in EHS, where lives depend on your ability to communicate information effectively. Without strong communication skills, frustration and misunderstandings abound.

As an EHS manager, you need to be able to communicate safety and environmental needs to all levels of your organization, from shop-floor employees to C-suite executives. You’ll also be expected to represent your company in community or industry groups, to outside regulators, and at conferences or trade shows. In each of these scenarios, strong communication skills are essential.

4. Writing:

Along with solid verbal communication skills, the ability to write clearly and professionally is a must for any EHS manager. Perhaps you’ve noticed this already.

Written reports, correspondence letters to regulatory agencies, and even emails to your boss are among the written deliverables you’ll be expected to produce on a daily basis.

Of course, there’s a lot more to crafting these pieces than proper spelling and grammar — there’s also organization, flow, tone, and even the ability to choose between persuasive, expository, narrative, and descriptive styles depending on your objectives.

Fortunately, even if you don’t consider yourself a “writer”, anyone can write better with a little bit of effort and willingness to learn.

5. Risk management:

Savvy EHS professionals have been saying this for a while.

The risks companies face today have changed, whether through new technology, regulatory and market changes, or an increasingly volatile climate. These new risks have made it harder for organizations to stay profitable, and simply maintaining regulatory compliance isn't cutting it.

As such, more and more organizations are looking to EHS professionals to guide their risk mitigation efforts. In fact, risk management topped the list of required skills for nearly every job posting we came across.

To be clear, we're not just talking about job hazard assessments (JHAs) — you'll be expected to manage the full scope of EHS risk, from conducting risk assessments to developing a risk register, creating and implementing mitigation strategies, leveraging risk management software, and promoting a proactive approach to risk across the organization.

6. Environmental compliance:

Unsurprisingly, safety management skills are high on most employers’ wish lists. But we’re seeing a pattern with organizations seeking out candidates with expertise in environmental compliance, and we’re sensing that may be an underserved need.

It makes sense: Complex issues like climate change, natural disasters, and resource scarcity have spurred a greater interest in environmental compliance among organizations. You can meet this need by expanding your skills and knowledge of:

  • Mandatory and voluntary requirements, such as ISO 14001
  • Conducting audits and inspections
  • Preparing permit applications
  • Developing and implementing environmental management systems
  • Creating regulatory reports


7. Knowledge of regulations:

As environmental issues grow and the regulatory environment becomes less certain, businesses will need help navigating the maze of shifting requirements.

They’ll be looking for experts with a deep understanding of current regulations and how these rules apply to their specific businesses.

Educating yourself on these topics makes you an incredibly valuable asset. That means knowing the applicable federal and state regulations, such as EPA, OSHA, and so on. It also means familiarizing yourself with how these regulations apply to your company’s day-to-day operations, such as auditing and reporting procedures. Finally, it means developing working relationships with regulatory personnel.

What skills would you add to this list?

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