Ecologist jobs… did you know?
So what is the REAL relationship between plants, animals and our environment? Ecologists get to study the links between the environment and all living things. Ecologists can work in all kinds of places – in labs, offices, the great outdoors and even underwater. If you’re interested in life sciences you could look at how to conserve fish populations for generations to come, or even how to help hedgehogs cross motorways with special hedgehog tunnels.
WEIRD FACT: You can become a Bat Ecologist who specialises in making sure bats aren’t harmed by human activity. But to do this you’ll need an official Bat Licence!
Ecologists can be research scientists, teachers or work for places like environmental organisations or zoos. Find out more...
Ecologist job trends
How much money can you make as an ecologist?
£19,000 – £45,000 (UK average)
Recent labour market information says you can earn on average between £20,000 and £50,000 a year as an ecologist in the UK.
Your starting salary can vary because of factors like level of experience, training, or location. Your salary will increase over time as you build skills, knowledge and experience.
What entry qualifications and training do you need?
School, college and training
It can seem like it might take forever to become an ecologist. Although some ecology jobs want you to have studied for years to get a Ph.D, not all of them do. You need to be dedicated to learning more about living things and the environment, so it will often help you to study for a science degree.
Some ecologists need to know about economics, social sciences and engineering – it really depends on what kind of ecology work you want to do.
Whichever type of ecology you specialise in, it will be useful to have at least five GCSEs (or the equivalent) with passing grades of 9-4 (A to C) including English, maths, at least one science, and possibly geography.
You will also benefit from having at least two A-levels with good passing grades. These will help you get into a junior job where you can build skills and knowledge with training, or apply for a degree. You could also apply for a relevant apprenticeship.
University and degrees
A lot of ecologists have degrees. Some useful degrees to study for include:
- Conservation biology
- Environmental sustainability
- Environmental science
- Ecological science
- Marine biology
An alternative route is to take your first step into an ecology career with an environmental conservation apprenticeship. You’ll get to build your awareness and enjoy the environment while earning a salary and training up in rural and/or urban conservation.
Career progression and further qualifications
Once you’ve become an ecologist you could get chartered status to become a Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv) or Chartered Ecologist (CEcol). This will help you earn more money, take on more responsibility, and work on even more sophisticated projects.
Once you have chartered status you could become a senior ecologist. Your work could include leading research teams, creating new plans for biodiversity, or consulting on sustainable development projects so that human progress doesn’t have a bad impact on the environment.
What experience do you need for ecologist jobs?
It can help your application if you have previously done work experience or volunteering in an conservation environment.
Examples of relevant work experience include:
- Work shadowing (even if it’s just for a day)
- Work placements in a company
- Industry placements on a degree course
Volunteering and extra-curricular activities
There are lots of opportunities for ecology volunteering across the UK. Visit these organisations to find out more:
What skills do you need for ecologist jobs?
What life and work skills do you need to be a great ecologist?
Useful skills to highlight and develop in this career include:
- Self-belief skills – self-belief isn’t just confidence but also perseverance. You’ll be presented with environmental challenges where you may have to try several approaches to find one that works best for biodiversity.
- Good communication skills and teamworking skills – you’ll usually be working as part of a team, and sharing your findings with an organisation or client.
- Good problem solving skills – a creative approach to problems is often needed in ecology work. You need plenty of imagination, because your work could even take you to the stars! If you were asked to decide how plants should be grown by people of the future living in deep space, how would YOU do it?
- Good organisation skills – ecology often means doing field work in the great outdoors, but there’s a lot of paperwork involved too. You could be analysing data or making reports on your discoveries and recommendations for environmentally sustainable action.
- Self-management skills – you’ll usually receive training from your employer, but it’s up to you to have a keen interest in ecology and the passion to top up your skills and knowledge.
Vocational qualifications and work experience will help you build these skills over time.
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What does a ecologist do?
You could specialise in a particular environment, like marine and coastal wildlife or museums.
What could your work involve?
- Doing fieldwork to study and record information on plants, animals, biodiversity and living conditions in a rural or urban environment
- Researching ways in which human activity (like housing or intensive farming) affects the environment
- Building computer models using Computer Aided Design (CAD) to predict the effects of rising pollution, climate change or land development
- Managing conservation areas like woodland, meadows and lakes
- Making recommendations to local or government authorities on the best way to use land in an environmentally safe way.
Your first steps into ecologist jobs
To find early job opportunities in this role, search on job boards for roles like these:
- Environmental conservation apprentice
- Ecology apprentice
- Assistant ecologist
- Graduate ecologist
- Seasonal ecologist (for undergraduate work placements or post graduate studies)
Useful organisations and links
So what are you waiting for? Grab your future.