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Ecologists study the relationship between plants, animals and the environment. They look at how animals and plants inhabit a particular environment, and report on the likely impact of any proposed construction works. Depending on the job in hand, they could spend time working outdoors, at a university, in an office or in a laboratory.

Average salary*




Typical hours per week


How to become an ecologist

There are several routes to becoming an ecologist. You can gain the qualifications you need by doing a university course or an apprenticeship. 

If you already have relevant experience you may be able to apply directly to an employer or train on-the-job. Volunteering is also a great way to get experience and may improve your chances of finding work. You should explore these routes to become an ecologist to find out which is the right one for you.

You may need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to work on a construction site.


You can complete an undergraduate degree or postgraduate qualification in a relevant subject such as:

  • Ecology
  • Ecology and environmental sustainability
  • Zoology
  • Marine biology
  • Conservation biology
  • Ecological science
  • Environmental science. 

You’ll need:


An apprenticeship with a firm specialising in surveying or ecology is a good way into the industry. If you have a degree in a relevant subject, you may be able to do a postgraduate ecologist degree apprenticeship. You’ll need a qualification and experience in an ecological science to apply.

Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16. As an apprentice, you will be fully employed by your company and expected to work a minimum of 30 hours a week.


If you have some basic experience, you could apply directly to a firm specialising in surveying or ecology to gain on-site experience as an ecologist. You might start out as an assistant to a more experienced ecologist and progress as your abilities improve.

Work experience

Work experience is essential to gaining employment within the construction industry. You could gain this at school, or by working weekends and holidays with a company or relative who works as an ecologist. Potential employers will always be pleased to see work experience listed on your CV.


Additional skills which may benefit anyone considering a job as an ecologist include: 

  • Analytical thinking and reasoning skills
  • Good grasp of maths and English
  • Excellent verbal communication skills
  • Ability to use your own initiative.

What does an ecologist do?

As an ecologist you will be responsible for site visits to undertake study and surveys of animal, plants, and the environment to ensure accurate data on the impact of construction projects. 

The job role of an ecologist involves the following duties:

  • Visiting sites to undertake surveys of animals, plants and their environment
  • Researching the impact of construction and other human activity
  • Building computer models to predict effects of construction work
  • Advising on legal regulations in relation to protected species
  • Identifying and recording details of habitats and species
  • Producing reports detailing the potential environmental impact of any disruption to the environment and making recommendations on how best to manage it
  • Analysing data collected
  • Advising project stakeholders
  • Providing expert advice on environmental legislation
  • Preparing reports and recommendations
  • Visiting site during construction to monitor that all works are carried out as agreed
  • Advising planners, engineers, designers and construction firms
  • A career as an ecologist will usually involve working standard office hours, Monday to Friday
  • Likely to be occasions when it is necessary to work late or at weekends, particularly in more senior roles.

How much could you earn as an ecologist?

The expected salary for an ecologist varies as you become more experienced.

  • Newly trained ecologists can earn £20,000 - £25,000
  • Trained ecologists with some experience can earn £25,000 - £30,000
  • Senior, chartered or master ecologists can earn £30,000 - £50,000.*

Hours and salary depend on location, employer and any overtime you may do. Salaries and career options also improve with chartered status.

* Salaries have been collected from multiple industry sources


Check out the latest ecologist vacancies:  

As these are external websites, the number of vacancies related to your preferred role may vary. New opportunities will be posted as they come up.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could become a senior ecologist, leading a team of researchers, developing biodiversity plans or acting as a consultant on sustainable development projects. 

You could also work towards chartered environmentalist status through the Society for the Environment, which will help you earn a higher salary. 

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