Career outlook for ecologist

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

£33,800

Currently employed in Scotland

2,400

Average UK salary

£33,800

Currently employed in Scotland

2,400

"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures.

Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

Ecologists help to protect and restore the natural environment. They provide important information on how human activity affects individual species and ecosystems. They also study the relationships between animals, plants and the environment.

As an ecologist, you’ll usually specialise in a specific area of the environment. This means you’ll be able to study an area you’re passionate about – whether that’s animals found deep in the ocean or plants that grow on jungle floors.

What you might do:

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

There are 2 main types of ecologist:

  •  consultant ecologist
  •  landscape ecologist 

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 conditions

Hours

You could expect to work Monday to Friday, over usual office hours – though this may vary depending on your research subjects. For example, a survey of bat behaviour would need to take place at night!

Environment

Your research could take you to both rural and urban habitats, as well as being out at sea. You could also expect to spend some time in an office environment, working on research and reports.

UK employment status

Full-time

84%

Part-time

7%

Self employed

8%

Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Reading
  • Working with technology
  • Working with numbers
  • Observation
  • Attention to detail
  • Ethical
  • Analysing
  • Understanding

Skills Explorer

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at What are my skills?

Our Skills Explorer tool will help you understand what skills you have and match them to jobs that might suit you.

Use the Skills Explorer tool

Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

Not all employers list specific qualification requirements but they do ask for relevant experience, usually work based. 

There are different ways to get qualified for this job through college, university or work-based qualifications, such as apprenticeships. 

Most ecologists will have a degree in:

  • environmental science
  • biology 
  • geography 
  • zoology 
  • marine biology 

Employers might consider applicants without formal qualifications if they can demonstrate knowledge and experience of the industry. 

Useful subjects

Many colleges and universities will have required subjects that you must have for entry. They might also highlight additional subjects that they would value. Look at individual institution websites for specific entry information.   

Useful subjects would be: 

  • maths
  • environmental science
  • chemistry 
  • physics
  • geography
  • biology 

Helpful to have

Not all employers list specific qualification requirements but they might ask for relevant experience, usually work based, that show a range of transferable skills.  

It’s helpful to join your local Wildlife Trust and become a member of a relevant professional body, such as the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM).  

There are skills-based courses that provide an opportunity to get extra skills valued by employers: 

Explore more information about this job