Heritage Heritage


Ecologists are concerned with ecosystems as a whole, the abundance and distribution of organisms (people, plants, animals), and the relationships between organisms and their environment - therefore the likely impact of any proposed construction works. This role will also include making recommendations on environmental issues.

Ecologists usually choose a specialist area (e.g. freshwater, marine, terrestrial, fauna, flora) and then carry out a range of tasks relating to that area.

When starting out, ecologists often conduct surveys to identify, record and monitor species and their habitats. With career progression, work is likely to become more wide-ranging, with senior ecologists getting more involved in policy and management work.

It is important that ecologists are aware of environmental policies as their work commonly has to comply with European and UK environmental legislation.


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This career information has been adapted from Prospects and National Careers Service.

What The Job Involves

What are the key responsibilities for this position?


Key Responsibilities

conducting field surveys to collect information about the numbers and distribution of organisms;
taxonomy - classifying organisms;
applying sampling strategies and employing a range of habitat survey techniques, such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS), aerial photography, records and maps;
carrying out environmental impact assessments;
analysing and interpreting data, using specialist software programs;
habitat management and creation;
writing reports and issuing recommendations;
liaising with and advising site managers, engineers, planners and others associated with a survey;
building relationships with stakeholders, including members of the public;
carrying out research;
undertaking teaching in schools or in field centres
keeping up to date with new environmental policies and legislation;
contributing ideas about changes to policy and legislation, based on ecological findings.

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Entry Requirements

A degree in a biological science or environmental subject is generally required
Some employers look for candidates with postgraduate qualifications (an MSc or PhD), particularly for work requiring specialist knowledge, e.g. consultancy work or academic research/teaching. Search for postgraduate course in ecology.

What key skills and personal attributes help with this role?

Skills & Attributes

enthusiasm about, and fascination for, animals and plants
expertise in one or more groups of living organisms;
capacity to identify different species as appropriate to the role;
enthusiasm for undertaking fieldwork in sometimes harsh conditions;
competence in understanding and using statistics and other ecological data;
the ability to use computer software for recording, analysing and presenting data and reports;
excellent written communication, research and presentation skills;
experience of report writing;
confidence in using survey techniques and identification keys;
teamworking and project-management skills;
self-motivation, energy and drive;
an objective approach to working in conservation.

How much can you expect to earn and what are the career progression options?

The following figures are intended as a guideline only.

Salary & Progression

Starting salary: £17,000 - £20,000
Experienced ecologists: £22,000 - £30,000
Senior ecologists: £30,000 - £40,000+
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