What’s it all about then?
As an Ecologist you’ll be helping to protect the natural world by studying the relationship between living organisms and the environment in which they live.
You could do this through conducting ecological surveys aimed at balancing the needs of the environment, suggesting ideas for effective land management or perhaps monitoring rural and urban areas of the country and reporting on any ecological risks or problems your work uncovers.
Often you will specialise in one particular area of ecology, perhaps a specific environment, or types of plants or animals.
What might I be doing?
Ecology is a wide ranging discipline but most work is likely to include:
- Designing and undertaking ecological field surveys
- Writing survey reports and presenting findings
- Reviewing and collating existing data to inform your work
- Assessing the potential ecological impacts of proposed land developments
- Advising on legal matters related to your area of specialism
- Managing conservation areas
- Computer modelling to predict the effects of development
- Providing expert testimony at public enquiries as required
- Restoring post industrial areas
- Monitoring pollution incidents and enforcing legislation
- Keeping up to date with relevant amendments to environmental laws
What will be expected of me?
The most important thing you’ll need is a keen interest in all things connected to the natural world; as well as this you’ll have to be methodical and patient so that your work is always completed to a high standard of accuracy.
A lot of the work is outdoors so make sure you’re comfortable being outdoors in all sorts of weather, although you’ll also spend time in the laboratory in this job.
As you’ll be generating a lot of reports and speaking at conferences etc you will be expected to have a high degree of written and verbal communication skills and a good knowledge of IT.
What can I expect?
You’ll work 37.5 to 40 per week and your time will be spent between fieldwork, laboratory work and the office.
You can expect to be outdoors a lot of the time and some of the work will require physical exertion as well.
The nature of the job means that you could be expected to travel from site to site and the fieldwork may also have to take place over a weekend or possibly in the evening time.
What about the pay?
You could start from between £17,000 to £22,000 per annum depending on location and employer but experience will see this rise to somewhere around £30,000
A senior ecologist in a large organisation might expect to earn upwards of £35,000 to £40,000 and consultants more than £45,000
Please note that these figures are for use as a guideline only
What qualifications do I need to get in?
You will normally need a degree in a relevant subject to become an ecologist.
This means a BSc degree in Ecology or possibly Ecology combined with subjects such as Conservation Biology, Environment, and Wildlife Conservation etc.
In addition it could be helpful if you have some experience of volunteer work as this could assist with you getting your preferred job in a competitive area of work.
Where would I get these qualifications?
There are loads of universities around the UK which offer Ecology and Ecology related degrees and you should check out the relevant guides and prospectuses for up to date information.
What about further training?
A post graduate qualification can be very advantageous for this career and will likely be required if you want to become a consultant or lecturer in the subject.
As above there are loads of Universities around the UK that offer post graduate studies in Ecology or related subjects and these include Ecological Consultancy, Ecology and Conservation etc.
Specifically for the Food Sector, Coventry University offers the MSc in Agroecology and Food Security which provides graduates with the ability to analyse and assess the relationships between food production, farming, and the wider environment.
Once you have the relevant qualifications and experience you could consider becoming a member of a professional organisation such as the British Ecological Society or the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management.
These bodies offer the opportunity to develop knowledge and experience and will likely be of great value to your career.
Anything else I might need to know?
Yes, Ecology provides a wide variety of job opportunities covering many organisations and work sectors.
You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that your work is helping the environment, which is fantastic.
Watch out though, because competition for jobs can be intense; therefore the better your mix of qualifications and volunteering experience, the more chance you’ll have of getting the job you want and your career off to the perfect start!