Each month we take a look at one of the 650 career pathways featured within Indigo. This month we’re exploring the role of an Ecologist.

Find out what’s involved in the role from in this excerpt from the career profile on the Indigo Careers module.

So what is an Ecologist?

Ecologists help to protect the natural world by investigating the relationship between living organisms and their environment. They usually work within a specialist area such as freshwater, marine or fauna. Ecologists undertake ecological surveys of animals and plants and monitor the state of urban and rural environments. They may also write reports and analyse statistical information.


Hours vary depending on deadlines, the type of project you’re working on, employer, etc.


Ecologists work in laboratories or research centres when undertaking analysis activities. As an Ecologist, you would work outside in all kinds of weather conditions when undertaking fieldwork such as surveys of plants or animals.

Type of work

For fieldwork you would need a good level of physical fitness and good observational skills. This may make the job unsuitable for people with visual impairments. 

Things to consider

Make a difference
This job provides the satisfaction of having a positive impact on the natural environment.

Relocation may be necessary
You may need to move around employers to develop your career.

Can specialise
You can choose to work in your specialist area, and develop your career around something you are passionate about.

Very competitive
There is strong competition for jobs

Work in all weathers
You would work outside in all kinds of weather conditions when undertaking fieldwork.

Most people have an undergraduate degree and you will need previous experience/passion for the field

Entrants normally require a degree in a relevant subject such as ecology, environmental biology/management, conservation or marine biology. The general entry requirements for a degree are 2 A levels/3 H grades and GCSEs/National 5s at grade C or above, or 4–9 in England

Many employers require pre-entry experience (as a research assistant or a conservation project volunteer). Postgraduate qualifications are required for higher education teaching and research, as well as consultancy work. A driving licence may also be useful when travelling to conduct fieldwork.

Ecologists with relevant qualifications and experience can become members of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM). Different levels of membership are available depending on your qualifications and experience. The CIEEM, the British Ecological Society (BES), the Field Studies Council and the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland also provide many short professional development courses for their members.

Salary progression

Starting salaries range from around £18,000 to £22,000 per year. With experience you could earn from £22,000 to £30,000. And, Senior or management roles in larger organisations can earn £30,000 to £45,000 or more.

Click here to explore the full library of over 650 career profiles, including multimedia content and LMI data for students to interpret and discuss.