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Environment

Ecologist

Ecologists study the relationship between plants, animals and the environment.

Annual Salary

£22,000 to £42,000

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

39 to 41 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends;

Day to day tasks

Your day-to-day tasks will depend on the sector in which you work. For example, as an ecological scientist you could:

  • carry out fieldwork
  • survey and record information on plants, animals, environmental conditions and biodiversity
  • deliver lessons or lectures

As a consultant ecologist you could:

  • research the impact of human activity, like housing and intensive agriculture, on the environment
  • build computer models to predict the effects of development or climate change
  • research and contribute to legislation and policy

As a landscape ecologist, you could:

  • manage and create wildlife conservation areas, woodland and meadows
  • monitor species and habitats
  • manage a team of volunteers

Working environment

You could work in the countryside, at a university, in an office or in a laboratory.

Your working environment may be outdoors in all weathers.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
University

You'll need a degree or postgraduate qualification in a subject like:

  • ecology
  • conservation biology
  • zoology
  • marine or plant biology
  • environmental science
  • botany
  • ecology and environmental sustainability

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
For more information
Apprenticeship

You may be able to do a postgraduate ecologist degree apprenticeship.

This typically takes around 3 years to complete.

You'll need a qualification and experience in an ecological science to apply.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • a degree in a relevant subject for a degree apprenticeship
For more information
Volunteering and work experience

Volunteering is a great way to get experience and may improve your chances of finding work. You can also build up contacts within conservation, which will be useful when looking for jobs.

You can find volunteering opportunities with:

More information

Career tips

You can search for jobs in ecology and related fields at environmentjob.

Professional and industry bodies

You can join the British Ecological Society, which offers mentoring from experienced ecologists, research news, and education and job search support.

Further information

You can find more details about careers in ecology through the:British Ecological Society; Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management; Botanical Society of Great Britain

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You could work in a range of organisations like local authorities, conservation organisations, government or scientific bodies.

With experience, you could become a senior ecologist, leading a team of researchers, developing biodiversity plans or acting as a consultant on sustainable development projects.

You may also be able to apply for chartered environmentalist status. You can find out more about being a chartered environmentalist from the Society for the Environment.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • maths knowledge
  • analytical thinking skills
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • persistence and determination
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • excellent written communication skills
  • concentration skills
  • knowledge of English language
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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