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.  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.

What responsibilities will I have?

  • Conduct field surveys to collect information about the numbers and distribution of organisms
  • Classifying organisms
  • Apply sampling strategies and employ a range of habitat survey techniques, such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS), aerial photography, records and maps
  • Carry out environmental impact assessments
  • Analyze and interpret data, using specialist software program
  • Habitat management and creation
  • Write reports and issue recommendations
  • Liaise with and advising site managers, engineers, planners and others associated with a survey
  • Build relationships with stakeholders, including members of the public
  • Carry out research
  • Undertake teaching in schools or in field centers
  • Keep up to date with new environmental policies and legislation
  • Contribute ideas about changes to policy and legislation, based on ecological findings

What education and training is required?

A bachelor’s degree in a biological science or environmental subject.  Specializations and minors need to be pursued in ecology. Some employers look for candidates with postgraduate qualifications, particularly for work requiring specialist knowledge.

To pursue a career as an Ecologist:

The following high school courses are recommended:  environmental science, biology, chemistry.

Typical Employers:

Nature conservatories, government regulators, scientific bodies and non-profits.

Future Job Market/Outlook:

The future outlook for all environmental science careers is projected to grow 15% from 2012 to 2022, a higher rate as the average for all occupations.

Suggested Professional Organizations and Associations:

  • Ecological Society of America
  • The International Association for Ecology
  • Ecological Farming Association
  • Association for AgriCulture and Ecology (international only)