what is an ecologist?

An ecologist studies the relationships between various ecosystems or components. Your job is to examine the impact of interactions between living and nonliving things in the environment. You also research the effects of actions by ecosystem members on other ecological phenomena like rainfall and temperature shifts or pollution.

Nature is supposed to be self-sustaining and can maintain ecological balance without the help of scientists. However, industrialisation, mining, and population growth shatter the balance, hence the need for ecologists to care for the environment. As an ecologist, you don't just examine the environment; you also try to rectify the imbalances in the ecosystems caused by human interference. For instance, you determine the impact of housing, urbanisation and recreational facilities on the environment.

what does an ecologist do?

As an ecologist, you are involved in conservation programmes and provide scientific expertise to policymakers and the management of major companies. Hence, the role requires intelligent application and interpretation of biological principles to make decisions that benefit the environment. You need exceptional research and interpretation skills to study tiny details and draw accurate conclusions.

Ecologists can serve in various fields related to the environment like agricultural research institutes, nature conservation, national parks and private organisations interested in environmental sustainability.

ecologist vacancies

average ecologist salary

The average salary of an ecologist ranges from $80,000 to $100,000 per year. The remuneration package of ecologists varies based on personal qualifications and skills. Minimal experience and entry-level positions attract a salary of 80,000 annually, while experienced experts earn $100,000 yearly.

how to increase your salary as an ecologist

As an ecologist, your remuneration package depends on your expertise and qualifications. When you have a postgraduate degree, you are likely to earn more compared to an ecologist with a bachelor's degree. Your expertise allows you to perform complex roles, exponentially increasing your earnings.

Your area of specialisation also affects your earnings. For instance, a marine biologist may earn less than a zoologist or environmental scientist. The company you work for also influences your salary. When you work for a research institution, your remuneration package depends on the size and the funding. A project with an unlimited budget will attract a higher salary than smaller research projects with limited funding.

Want to know what you will earn as an ecologist? Check out what you are worth with our salary checker.

ecologist careers

types of ecologists

Some of the types of ecologists include:

  • field ecologist: you collect data and examine living organisms in their natural habitat. By studying their features, you can identify adaptation mechanisms and their role in the ecosystem.
  • restoration ecologist: your role involves fixing parts of the ecosystem affected negatively by human activities to reduce environmental effects. As a restoration ecologist, you deal with coastal erosion, land clearing and poaching that affect ecological balance.
  • marine biologist: you spend most of your career studying water creatures and their role in the ecological balance. You also recommend ways to improve their habitat and avoid the extinction of rare marine species.
  • environmental scientist: as an environmental scientist, you use research to safeguard the environment and its inhabitants. For instance, you study the potential dangers of chemicals to the environment and their long-term effects on human beings. You also assist in cleaning up pollutants and developing ways to reverse the harmful effects of human activities.
two females walking outdoors, autumn
two females walking outdoors, autumn

working as an ecologist

As an ecologist, you participate in various research projects studying and analysing data. Some of the ecologists’ specific duties, responsibilities and work schedules are here.


education and skills

Some of the educational qualifications of an ecologist include:

  • bachelor’s degree: pursue a bachelor's degree with a science major to become an ecologist. Some major areas of study include biology, environmental science, zoology and marine biology. Prerequisites for joining the bachelor's degree include completing Year 12 with mandatory biology, physics, chemistry and mathematics units. Consider completing a postgraduate study, such as a master’s in science.
  • join a professional association and gain experience: to become a successful ecologist, join a professional association, such as the Ecological Society of Australia. You can also join a professional association while studying.

ecologist skills and competencies

Some of the skills of an ecologist include the following:

  • interest or passion for nature: your job focuses on improving the quality of the environment people live in and their interactions with nature. You should love and care for nature to understand the interdependence of various ecosystem components.
  • analytical skills: an ecologist conducts various tests and field research to determine the cause of environmental problems and potential solutions. You need analytical skills to improve your decisions. Analytical skills help you collect data and evaluate various environmental issues.
  • technical skills: you spend hours on your computer carrying out multiple tasks, and having computer skills to perform various functions is crucial. Technical skills also help you with model drawing using computer-aided design and statistical analysis that requires complex statistical methods.
  • communication skills: as an ecologist, communication skills help you explain findings to your colleagues. You explain restoration plans to stakeholders and field teams undertaking restoration projects. Communication skills can also help you write reports and journals.

FAQs about working as an ecologist

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of an ecologist.

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