Ecologists study the relationship between plants, animals and the environment.

Annual Salary

£19,000 to £45,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 40

What's it all about?

You’ll usually specialise in a particular type of environment, like marine or coastal areas. 

You could study a specific animal or plant species. 

Your day-to-day duties could 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

You might also help assess planning proposals and make recommendations on sustainable land use for local authorities, government departments and companies.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship


You'll need a degree or postgraduate qualification in a subject like:

  • ecology
  • conservation biology
  • zoology
  • marine biology
  • environmental science
  • ecology and environmental sustainability

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study


You may be able to do a postgraduate ecologist degree apprenticeship.

You'll need a qualification and experience in an ecological science to apply.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • a degree in a relevant subject for a degree apprenticeship

Volunteering and experience

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:

Further Information

You can join the British Ecological Society, which offers mentoring from experienced ecologists, research news, and education and job search support.

You can find more details about careers in ecology through the British Ecological Society and the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management.

£19,000 to £45,000

Starter salary: £19,000 to £22,000

Experienced salary: £22,000 to £30,000

These figures are a guide.

37 to 40

You’ll work in the field, in an office and in a lab.

When working in a laboratory or writing up research, you could be based at one site and work 37 to 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. You may have to travel to visit other sites or go to meetings.

Research and fieldwork could involve longer and irregular working hours, including evenings and weekends. 

You could work outdoors for long periods of time.

With experience, you could apply for Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv) or Chartered Ecologist (CEcol) status. 

You could then progress to senior ecologist, leading a team of researchers, developing biodiversity plans or acting as a consultant on sustainable development projects.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • maths knowledge
  • analytical thinking skills
  • the ability to read English
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • ambition and a desire to succeed
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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