Ecologist | Ensuring ecologically-sensitive development

This role profile focuses on ecologists working in ecological consultancy. With increasing environmental legislation comes the need for skilled ecologists who can interpret law, understand ecosystems and advise clients. Ecological and Environmental Consultants undertake surveys – often for protected species and habitats – to provide advice to clients wishing to undertake developments.

What does an Ecologist do?

Two ecologists standing in a wetland wearing rain gear as they establish plots.

An important area of work is the undertaking of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) – of which ecology is one aspect. Ecological Impact Assessments (EcIAs) cover scoping out potential issues to survey within a development, undertaking the survey, and providing advice to avoid or mitigate for any issues – all within the framework of the latest planning advice and laws.

Within the context of conservation, ecologists are relatively well paid, often have a clear professional career progression and may specialise in a specific area.

The skills learnt as an ecologist – such as project, budget and staff management – can be very transferrable into other sectors, such as charities.

Image credit: NEON Science on Flickr.

NB If you’d like to explore other ecologist roles (such as ecologists that study ecological processes), check out our Conservation Scientist role profile (coming soon!) and How to become an ecologist ultimate guide.

Typical Ecologist duties

As an Ecologist working in ecological consultancy your work may involve activities such as:

  • Undertaking a wide range of ecological surveys (such as extended Phase 1 Habitat Surveys in the UK) and more specialist work such as protected species surveys and mitigation.
  • Carrying out desk-based studies, consultations, research, data management and analysis, and report writing.
  • Liaising with clients and statutory bodies.
  • Inputting into ecological sections of Environmental Impact Assessments.
  • Supporting sales activities by assisting with drafting proposals and quotes.

More experienced ecologists might also plan and/or manage ecological survey work, projects, teams, logistics and/or budgets. 

A macro photo of a bee on a flower. Ecologists can study many different aspects of ecosystem processes, including pollination.
Ecologists collect data on living and nonliving aspects of the environment, including plants, animals and habitats.

Ecologist employer types

Types of conservation employers that hire Ecologists include:

Ecologist sub roles

Sub roles within ecological consultancy include:

  • Botanists – ecologists specialising in plants.
  • Ornithologists – ecologists specialising in birds.
  • Protected species consultants – ecologists specialising in protected species (e.g. bats).
  • Marine ecologists – ecologists specialising in the marine environment.
  • Invasive species consultants.
A vegetation ecologist examines a quadrat in the Gardiner Basin, Yellowstone National Park, USA.
Credit: Yellowstone National Park / Flickr.

Ecologist preferences

What contexts support your happiness at work? Typical Ecologist roles include the following contexts:

Ecologist salaries & key stats

Here’s how most Ecologist roles compare with other conservation roles. We’ve considered pay, popularity (how many applicants roles receive) and availability (how many jobs are available at a given time). Keep in mind that this is a general guide, and that pay, popularity and availability can vary with employer type, location and job level.

*Pay for senior-level Organisational Manager roles can reach a 5.
**Pay for veterinary sub roles can reach a 4.

Within the context of conservation, ecologists – particularly ecological consultants – are relatively well paid.

Salaries can vary depending on the employer type, with business and government usually offering the highest salaries, followed by the academic and charity sectors.

According to the National Careers Service, the average salary for an ecologist in the UK ranges from £22,000 for someone just starting out, to £45,000+ for an experienced ecologist. A Director of Ecology can make much more.

According to Glassdoor, the average salary for ecologist in the United States is USD $60,855 per year, based on 130 salaries submitted anonymously to Glassdoor.

According to the Government of Canada, ecologists in Canada make between CAD $23 and $56.41 per hour, and the median wage for an ecologist in Canada is CAD $38.04 per hour.

Here are some examples of ecologist salaries, from jobs posted on Conservation Careers:

An ecologist collecting beetles in the field. She is kneeling on the ground with a forest in the background.United Kingdom

United States


If you’re just starting out as an ecologist, you’ll be glad to know that many businesses offer salaried roles for early career ecologists. Other organisations may also sponsor accommodation, meals and/or flights/transport in exchange for temporary, early career contracts for recent graduates.

To research salaries for Ecologists in your region specific to the conservation sector, we recommend searching our Conservation Job Archive as a Conservation Careers Academy member.
Image: Ecologist collecting beetles. Credit: NEON Science on Flickr.

Ecologist requirements

Typical early-career Ecologist roles require the following:

*Most wanted communication and interpersonal skills include: 

  • Communicating clearly with team, clients and contractors.
  • Explaining technical concepts to all audiences.
  • Managing relationships.

Ecologist sub roles and mid-level and senior roles may have different requirements.

To research the requirements for Ecologist sub roles and more senior roles, we recommend searching our Conservation Job Archive as a Conservation Careers Academy member.

Typical job titles for Ecologists

Examples of Early Career Ecologist job titles include: 

Examples of Mid Career and Senior Ecologist job titles include: 

Find more examples of Ecologist job titles by searching our Conservation Job Archive as a Conservation Careers Academy member.

An ecologist operating a boat on a lake. He is seated at the stern of the boat with one hand driving the boat.
Credit: NEON Science / Flickr.

Ecologist resources

Podcast episodes

We speak to Nancy, the Director and founder of Thomson Environmental Consultants, about what it’s like to work as an environmental or ecological consultant, the types of people Thomson are seeking to hire, and the story of how she set up two successful consultancies. Listen here.

Sue has over 17 years’ experience of ecological consultancy and has helped 100s of people to get the right training to enter the sector. We discuss what it’s like to work as an ecological consultant, typical roles available, types of people it suits and skills employers seek. Listen here.

Professor David Hill CBE, chairman and founding owner of The Environment Bank, talks about his innovative work seeking to secure payments from developers to establish large-scale and long–term conservation areas. Listen here.

Example Ecologist jobs

To help illustrate Ecologist roles, here are several job descriptions that represent (real) entry level Ecologist jobs. Pay particular attention to the selection criteria (specifications) to learn more about what conservation employers are looking for when they hire Ecologists.


Assistant Ecologist/Ecologist | Aspect Ecology | Oxfordshire, UK

Due to the ongoing success and expansion of the business, Aspect Ecology has an excellent opportunity for a graduate/postgraduate/postdoctoral candidate to develop their career in ecological consultancy, by joining our industry leading team of specialists and working on our exciting range of challenging and interesting projects.

About Aspect Ecology

At Aspect Ecology, we specialise in providing ecological consultancy services to a well-established base of high-profile public and private sector clients. Our Oxfordshire-based team has a wealth of experience and expertise advising on an extensive range of projects nationwide with a focus on integrating ecological habitats and wildlife benefits within new developments. We are a professional and friendly team of enthusiastic ecologists who thrive on innovation and delivering a high quality output to our clients – see our website for more and follow us on LinkedIn .

About the Role

Working as an Assistant Ecologist/Ecologist within the ecology team, you will undertake a range of field survey work for habitats and faunal species (e.g., bats, Badger, GCN, reptiles, Otter, Water Vole, and nesting birds) across the UK. You will also carry out background research, manage and analyse field survey data, carrying out interpretation and writing technical reports.

About You

As a key member of the team, the following skills and experience are considered essential to the role:

  • A relevant degree and/or postgraduate qualification, with a strong academic ability and record;
  • A sound background in or enthusiasm for natural history and familiarity with UK flora and fauna;
  • Some experience with UK botanical and/or faunal identification and survey work;
  • A broad understanding of UK wildlife legislation;
  • Ability to work under pressure in a fast paced environment, with effective teamwork and excellent communication skills;

In return, Aspect Ecology is proud to offer you a highly rewarding career in Ecology with a clear pathway for progression within the company alongside a competitive salary (commensurate with your experience), full training and a generous package of additional benefits including:

  • Workplace Pension scheme;
  • Group Life Assurance Cover;
  • 22 days annual leave plus Christmas close;
  • training days;
  • external training budget;
  • in-house training and formal internal CPD programme;
  • clear and structured framework for professional development and career progression;
  • complimentary staff functions and team building events;
  • complimentary onsite parking and refreshments;
  • generous TOIL (time off in lieu) policy to ensure a healthy work-life balance.


Assistant Ecologist | The Ecology Practice | Home-based, UK

We have a current vacancy for a home-based assistant ecologist. This is an exciting role where you will have the opportunity to work alongside a team of Ecologists on a varied range of projects throughout the UK.


  • A degree or equivalent in Ecology or a relevant discipline,
  • Demonstratable general knowledge of UK Flora and Fauna
  • Experienced in habitats/plants to enable competent Phase I survey
  • Excellent writing and computing capabilities,
  • Full, UK driving licence and vehicle
  • Ability to stay away from home for extended periods


  • Consultancy experience is advantageous however not necessary,
  • CIEEM membership is advantageous,
  • Protected Species Licence(s)/experience are advantageous.

The Assistant Ecologist will work together with our team of Ecologists supporting field surveys, collecting data, helping with impact assessments, planning-related work and helping with mapping and report writing.

We will equip a home office including IT, provide training and experience in those areas most suited to your skill set, provide a pension and TOIL for those extra hours

Starting salary: £20k+ depending on experience


Casual Ecologists | Thomson Environmental Consultants | Nationwide, UK

 We have multiple opportunities for Assistant Ecologists to support our terrestrial ecology teams across the UK for the 2022 survey season. We can only consider people that are immediately available (two weeks’ notice at most).

This is a great opportunity to learn professional survey and mitigation techniques, in a range of species and habitats, and to gain experience of working in a busy independent environmental consultancy. Many of our previous seasonal Assistant Ecologists have gone on to secure permanent positions with us and now have thriving careers at Thomson.

We would like to hear from people that have had some ecology field experience, or you can be hardworking and recently graduated with a degree in ecology, environmental science, zoology or another related field, Ideally you will have undertaken previous ecological surveying, either in a voluntary or paid capacity, it doesn’t matter what your level of experience we provide the training and support

You must have

  • a degree in ecology or a related field, or suitable relevant experience
  • the right to work in the UK
  • a valid driving licence and vehicle, insured for business use
  • the ability and willingness to travel and stay away at survey sites in various locations around the UK
  • confidence to work independently, and as part of a team
  • self-motivation with the ability to learn quickly.
  • Be immediately available and free for the next few months.

It would be advantageous if you also had the following:

  • a protected species licence e.g. GCN, bat or dormouse
  • membership to the Chartered Institute of Ecological and Environmental Management (CIEEM)
  • a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) Card
  • First Aid at Work certification

Ecology Officer | Surrey County Counsil | Surrey, UK

Reference: orbis/TP/174243/26560
Salary: £36,282 per annum
Category: Environmental & Conservation
Contract type: Permanent
Working hours: 36 hours per week
Closing date: 11 September 2022
Directorate: Environment, Transport & Infrastructure
Location: Whitebeam Lodge, Merrow Complex, Merrow Lane, Merrow, Guildford, Surrey GU4 7BQ

About the role

Are you passionate about ecology and countryside/environmental projects and looking for an opportunity to build on your career? Do you want to be part of a team that works towards making Surrey a greener place, protecting, and enhancing our valuable species and habitats?

If yes, then we want to hear from you!

The Countryside Estate Operations Team within the Environment, Transport and Infrastructure directorate at Surrey County Council is seeking to appoint an Ecology Project Officer.

This role is open to remote working meaning you aren’t required in the office 5 days a week. However, a driving licence and use of a car will be essential in order to be able to attend site visits and meetings in Surrey regularly during the week.

About ETI

The Environment, Transport & Infrastructure (ETI) directorate is responsible for a wide range of services including highways, environment, transport, planning, countryside and waste management. These services are critical for people living, working and travelling through Surrey, delivered by the County Council or in partnership.

About the Countryside Estate Operations Team

The aim of the Countryside Estate Operations Team is to protect, maintain and improve our countryside estate. We also work with other teams to support delivery of wider environmental projects and objectives. The team undertake a range of management activities across our countryside estate, including public access and visitor management, conservation projects and infrastructure projects. We work with partners and tenants to ensure our land is safe, easily accessible for visitors and managed carefully to protect our valuable natural assets.

About the Role

As an Ecology Project Officer, you will support delivery of a wide range of countryside and environmental projects/work. You will undertake appropriate environmental impact assessments, work with regulatory bodies, recommend suitable mitigation strategies and secure necessary consents.

The role will also include day to day practical ecological advice and support to the Countryside Estate Operations Team and other teams within the directorate.

The role will require a close working relationship with our partners Surrey Wildlife Trust, Natural England, local interest groups and other relevant organisations, to ensure the Council’s work is delivered in accordance with relevant legislation and good practice.

The role will require site visits to be undertaken within Surrey during the working week. The number of site visits will vary week to week, but a typical week may involve visiting sites or attending meetings on 3 or 4 days.

About you!

To be shortlisted for interview for this position, your application and supporting statement will clearly evidence:

  • Experience of working within the ecology field.
  • A detailed knowledge of species, habitats, relevant environmental legislation, and appropriate mitigation strategies.
  • Ability to communicate effectively with a range of internal and external teams/bodies to support delivery of projects within tight deadlines.
  • A degree/qualification in ecology or similar related subject.

The full Role Profile details:

Education, Knowledge, Skills & Abilities, Experience and Personal Characteristics

  • Appropriate technical qualification at Degree, HND or HNC level. 
  • May require a specialist technical qualification or membership of an appropriate professional institution. 
  • Sound understanding of subject matter, legislation, principles and practices relevant to the technical area. 
  • Ability to apply project management principles and techniques to manage a range of projects through to completion. 
  • Practical or professional experience and understanding of a specialist area or supporting service teams and/or providing support to the public.
  • Ability to work on own initiative, with solution focused problem solving skills. 
  • Proven written and oral communication with the ability to engage and work in collaboration with others. 
  • Comprehensive knowledge of computerised business systems.

Details of the specific qualifications and/or experience if required for the role in line with the above description

Detailed knowledge of species, habitats and appropriate mitigation strategies. Detailed and up to date knowledge of wildlife/ecology legislation. Understanding of practical techniques of countryside management. Understanding and commitment to the principles and practice of health and safety and equality and diversity. Organisational ability and negotiating skills. Ability to set targets, delivers results, monitor and improve efficiency and effectiveness. Adaptability, flexibility and able to work under pressure. Able to achieve maximum benefit from limited resources. Relevant experience in the public sector. Experience of working with a wide range of partner bodies including national agencies such as Natural England, district and parish councils, consultants, contractors and voluntary bodies. Experience in delivering improvements in customer satisfaction, staff morale, productivity and efficiency. Ability to drive or otherwise visit inaccessible locations, sometimes at short notice with the ability to work outdoors in all weather and sometimes in difficult terrain. Willingness to work in Work style accommodation with open space offices and no fixed desk, etc. Able occasionally to work weekends and evenings.


From flexible working to job sharing we are committed to providing a healthy work life balance. You will benefit from 26 days annual leave, rising to 28 days after 2 years’ service, a generous local government salary related pension, as well as the option to join our car lease scheme.


westBiological Field Technician | West Inc. | Texas, USA

Western EcoSystems Technology, Inc. (WEST), a dynamic medium size consulting firm with offices across the United States, is looking for two temporary full-time Biological Field Technicians.   Since 1990, WEST has grown to be one of the premier environmental and statistical consulting firms in the United States. WEST has a permanent core of professionals with broad experience in basic and applied ecological studies and the sophisticated analysis of natural resource data.

Key Details:

  • Compensation: Depends on experience
  • Housing: Housing will be provided and will be shared housing for the two positions
  • Start Date: August 15, 2022
  • End Date: September 15, 2022
  • Location: Polk County, TX (Southeast Texas)
  • Additional Details: Scopes and other field equipment will be provided by WEST. Field technicians must be equipped with professional-grade binoculars, suitable footwear (rugged hiking boots), and appropriate clothing.

Job Description:

The primary duty involves conducting:

  • Nest surveys and monitoring for all present bird species
  • The job will consist of four 10-hour work days a week for one month
  • Field conditions will include extreme high temperatures and humidity

This is a general description of the functions for this position and is not inclusive of the duties which may be associated with this position.

Job Requirements


  • Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Resources, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Biology, or an equivalent degree preferred
  • Candidates must be capable of identifying birds, recording data correctly, following study and safety protocols, keeping on schedule, and trouble-shooting problems in the field
  • Previous experience conducting avian and raptor surveys is required
  • Precise and thorough data collection is essential
  • Candidates should be able to interact positively and professionally with project manager, field lead, site manager, construction personnel, and other technicians
  • Employee must be able to appear for work on time (surveys often begin as early as sunrise), maintain focus for long periods of time, follow instructions from the team leader, maintain positive attitude, and accept guidance and constructive criticism
  • Consistent communication with the team is imperative
  • Environmental conditions include working in wind, mud, and very hot temperatures.
  • Candidates may encounter snakes, insects, and other wildlife.
  • Proficient use of aerial and topographic maps, compass, GPS units, and other field equipment required.

Physical Requirements:

  • Applicants must be in good physical condition, as surveys will be conducted in locations where temperatures and conditions can be extreme.

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To date we have published 6,761 Educator jobs on Conservation Careers. Discover the latest ecologist conservation jobs.

Explore other conservation roles

On Conservation Careers to date we’ve listed over 50,000 conservation jobs which cover over 15,000 different job titles! With so many different roles available within conservation, we’ve simplified them into eleven key roles:

  1. Conservation Communicator | Raising the profile of conservation. Any job focussed on communications and/or marketing, including photography and filmmaking.
  2. Ecologist | Ensuring ecologically-sensitive development. Any job focused on undertaking surveys or research to provide advice to clients (usually wishing to undertake developments).
  3. Economist | Putting a value on nature. Any job focussed on valuing nature economically.
  4. Educator | Increasing awareness and support for nature. Any job focused on environmental education for children or adults, including events and visitor engagement.
  5. Fundraiser | Raising money for nature. Any job focused on raising money.
  6. Land Manager | Protecting key sites for nature. Any job focussed on the practical conservation of sites (both habitat and visitors), including wardens and rangers.
  7. Organisational Manager | Running organisations that conserve nature. Any job focussed on managing an organisation.
  8. Policy Advocate | Saving wildlife through law. Any job focussed on policy and/or advocacy.
  9. Project Manager | Saving the world one project at a time. Any job focused on project or programme management (i.e. management of a themed area of work).
  10. Scientist | Answering the key questions to tackle biodiversity loss. Any job focussed on science and research (field and/or desk-based), including GIS and mapping and data analysis.
  11. Wildlife Carer | Caring for wildlife. Any Job focused on caring for animals, often in captivity such as Zoos, Veterinary Clinics or Shelters.
Two wetland ecologists collecting data from a wetland quadrat in the field.
Credit: Yellowstone National Park on Flickr.

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