Ecologists look at relationships in the natural world; studying how animals, plants and humans interact with each other in the environment.

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.

Day-To-Day Activities

Ecologists usually choose to work in a specialist area such as: flora - studying plants and flowers; freshwater - studying the river and lake plants and creatures; marine - studying sea plants and creatures; or fauna - studying animals in the environment. They then carry out a range of tasks relating to that area. In general their day-to-day tasks may include:

  • carrying out fieldwork - surveying and recording information on plants, animals, environmental conditions and biodiversity
  • researching the impact of human activity, like housing and intensive agriculture, on the environment
  • building computer models to predict the effects of development or climate change
    monitoring pollution
  • managing wildlife conservation areas, woodland and meadows
  • assessing planning proposals, and making recommendations on sustainable land use for local authorities, government departments and companies.

Technology Skills

  • Analytical or scientific software: e.g. Ecological risk assessment software, Economic Input-Output Life Cycle Assessment EIO-LCA
  • Computer aided design CAD software: e.g. Autodesk AutoCAD
  • Document management software: e.g. Adobe Systems Adobe Acrobat
  • Graphics or photo imaging software: e.g. Adobe Systems Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Visio
  • Map creation software: e.g. ESRI ArcGIS
  • Office suite software: e.g. Apple iWork, Corel Office Suite, Google Drive, LibreOffice, Microsoft Office,

Employment Prospects

  • 15,130 ecologists are employed in the UK.
  • New job opportunities are very likely in the future.
  • Green jobs have created this new and emerging type of work that wasn't around before.

Working Environment

  • Evenings
  • In the Field
  • Outdoors
  • Weekends & Public Holidays
  • Hands-On

Time - Average of 40 hours per week.

Compare with the paid time worked by full-time employees in the UK.

Pay - Average of £680 per week.

Compare with the pay, excluding overtime, for full-time employees across the UK.


Route to Employment



Other Information

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: the Conservation Volunteers, National Trust or the Wildlife Trusts.

Popular Degree Subjects

The most common degree subjects to be a Ecologist

Employability Skills Needed

Employability Skills Key:

  • Written Communication
  • Oral Communication
  • Judgment & Decision Making
  • Critical Thinking
  • Problem Solving
  • Research
  • Analytical Skills
  • Teamwork

Interests Needed

Interests Key:

  • Investigative
  • Enterprising
  • Conventional

Knowledge Needed

Knowledge Key:

  • English Language
  • Engineering and Technology
  • Mathematics
  • Education and Training
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Administration and Management
  • Law and Government

Abilities Needed

Abilities Key:

  • Oral Comprehension
  • Deductive Reasoning
  • Oral Expression
  • Written Comprehension
  • Written Expression
  • Inductive Reasoning
  • Problem Sensitivity
  • Category Flexibility

Work Styles Needed

Work Styles Key:

  • Analytical Thinking
  • Integrity
  • Attention to Detail
  • Achievement & Effort
  • Initiative
  • Persistence
  • Independence
  • Achievement & Effort

Technology Experience Needed

Technology Key:

  • Analytical or scientific software
  • Computer aided design CAD software
  • Document management software
  • Graphics or photo imaging software
  • Map creation software
  • Office suite software

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Further Information

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