A typical day in the life of an ecologist involves a wide range of duties focused on conservation and research.

Day In The Life Of A Ecologist

With Green Careers Week taking place in November, we’ve decided to take a look at one of the most popular ‘green jobs’ in the sector and find out what a typical day in the life of an ecologist may involve…

Ecologists help to protect and restore the natural environment by providing important information about how human activity affects individual species and ecosystems. In this role, you’ll usually specialise in a particular area, such as freshwater, marine, terrestrial, fauna or flora, and carry out a range of tasks relating to that area.

Job Duties

As part of a typical day in the life of an ecologist, you may be asked to conduct field surveys to collect biological information about the numbers and distribution of organisms and apply sampling strategies to a range of habitat survey techniques, such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS), aerial photography, records and maps.

What’s more, to support your organisation’s overall goals you could also be asked to carry out environmental impact assessments, analyse and interpret data, use specialist software programs, work on habitat management and creation and write reports and issue recommendations.

When working in the field sites include a huge range of different habitats, from woodland to marine and intertidal environments, such as grassland, heath, mire, peat bogs, river wildlife corridors, brownfield sites, salt marshes, cliff tops, fens and sand dunes.

Surveys are generally conducted by a small team, usually two people, although you may have to work alone. It’s likely you’ll work as part of a larger multidisciplinary team including conservation officers, engineers, rangers and administrative staff.

Common Skills

A degree in a biological science or environmental subject is generally required. Some employers may look for candidates with postgraduate qualifications (an MSc or PhD), particularly for work requiring specialist knowledge.

You’ll need to show:

  • enthusiasm for creating a better world and protecting animals & plants
  • expertise in one or more groups of living organisms
  • experience in/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

Career Development

More structured progression is usually possible in larger organisations where you can work toward the position of a senior and principal ecologist other than this, changing locations or employers may also help you to progress. In senior positions you’ll usually be more office-based, handling managerial tasks, including budget planning and people management.

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