Science

Ornithologist

Ornithologists study the behaviour, ecology, classification and conservation of birds and their habitats.

Annual Salary

£18,000 to £35,000

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

Working hours

30 to 40

3%
Future employment

There will be 3% more Ornithologist jobs in 2023.
In your local area

What's it all about?

You could be involved in:

  • fieldwork and research
  • conservation and habitat management
  • consultancy
  • education
  • campaigning and policy development

Your day-to-day duties could include:

  • conducting surveys
  • monitoring bird species 
  • tracking bird movements
  • collecting, analysing and evaluating data
  • preparing reports, management plans and presentations

You could also work as an ecologist ranger or countryside officer at a nature reserve, ringing station or observatory.

You’ll usually need an HND, foundation degree, degree or postgraduate qualification in a relevant subject, like biology, ecology, environmental science or zoology.

You’ll need a British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) ringing permit and experience as a birdwatcher to become a bird warden.



You’ll need some experience of ringing birds and bird watching to become an assistant warden.



Voluntary experience with an organisation like Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) or the BTO will be helpful.



The BTO has more information about becoming an ornithologist.

£18,000 to £35,000

Starter salary: £18,000

Experienced salary: £18,000 to £20,000

These figures are a guide.

30 to 40

Your hours and working environment will vary depending on the job, but can often be unsocial, with long working days during times like the breeding season. 

You’ll work outdoors and in all weather conditions 

You might work in remote locations so you may have to travel to sites by vehicle, boat or on foot.

With experience you might become a supervisor.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You’ll need:

  • an accurate and methodical approach
  • analytical and mathematical skills
  • the ability to produce clear reports
  • IT skills
My top 5 skills from the skills bank
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