How Useful Is an Ecology Degree? 13 Jobs to Think About

There are many academic programs for ecology degrees you might take into consideration if you want to work in ecology or a similar sector. You can select from a variety of undergraduate as well as graduate degrees based on your career goals. You can choose the program that is best for you by knowing the options that various degrees may offer and the professions you can explore with these qualifications. We discuss what ecology is in this post, the degrees you can get in this area, and what you’re able to accomplish with these educational achievements.

What exactly is ecology?

The link between living things and their surroundings is the focus of the biological field of ecology. This topic focuses on the mechanisms that affect how organisms, including people, are distributed. It also studies how environmental conditions can affect how many of a species’ members are present in an area and how many are scarce, as well as how organisms interact with one another. The organism, population, community, and ecosystem are the four main issues in ecology. Experts in this sector may research many facets of these issues and offer organizations direction and advice on how to manage natural resources responsibly.

What ecology degrees are available to me?

There are many programs you can take into consideration if you want to get an ecology degree, including:

Associate of Science

An undergraduate degree known as an Associate of Science (A.S.) can normally be obtained in two years. Students could be able to get this diploma from four-year colleges, community colleges, or technical schools. Ecology A.S. holders may look for entry-level work or transfer their credits to another advanced degree course to seek a Bachelor of Science in a related field. Courses for those obtaining this degree could consist of:

  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Calculus
  • Statistics
  • Technical writing

Bachelor of Science

A bachelor’s degree in science aids students in learning knowledge and developing abilities in the ecological, natural, and life sciences. The education for bachelor’s degree programs normally lasts four years and consists of required courses and field courses that prepare students for jobs in research or other ecological fields. Graduates with a B.S. in an ecology degree could be qualified to gather and analyze scientific data, apply qualitative models to ecological problems, and comprehend the core ideas of the field. An ecology degree program for a bachelor’s degree might provide the following courses:

  • Climatology
  • Forest fire prevention
  • Wildlife Control
  • Ecological biology
  • Management of fisheries and biology
  • Animal conduct

Master of Science

After earning a B.S. in ecology or a closely related topic, students may choose to continue their education by earning a graduate-level ecology degree, such as a Master of Science in this area. With this certification, you can be ready for a range of professional positions in public planning, education, environmental safety, wildlife biology, and management. An M.S. can give individuals the knowledge they need to progress as practitioners and researchers and prepare them for leadership roles within their sector. The following specialist courses are available to graduate students seeking this ecology degree:

  • Ecological field
  • Ecological soils
  • Ecology of forests
  • Considering the environment
  • Ecology of ecosystems

Ph.D. in ecology

A Ph.D. in ecology is available to those who are interested in developing their careers and can assist them to become qualified for positions as academic field researchers and university professors. A Ph.D. program may enable students to explore their unique research interests and collect secondary and primary information to prove a hypothesis, in addition to the curriculum provided in a master’s program of study. Professional responsibilities such as conducting expert ecological surveys and evaluating ecosystems to identify threats to animals and endangered animals may be prepared for by a Ph.D. in ecology degree.

What is the work of an ecologist?

Ecologists research how organisms interact with their surroundings, including other living things like us.

In other words, from a single mushroom to the Great Bear Rainforest and even beyond, ecologists can examine these linkages everywhere from the scale of a single organism to a population, community, ecosystem, or biosphere.

Before continuing, let’s quickly define a few terms…

  • Population: A collection of members of the same species that coexist and breed in the same region. For instance, a group of a specific species of fungi that is asexual or sexually reproducing and occupies the same forest area.
  • Community: A collection of coexisting populations of more than one species that are present in the same place and time. Consider a collection of fungi and various plant species that are coexisting in a fallen nursing log.
  • Ecosystem: A collection of all living things and the surroundings in which they coexist. Coastal temperate rainforest ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest, for instance.
  • Biosphere: All sections of the Planet where organisms live.

Ecology is a broad science that studies all types of living things and their habitats worldwide. Just a few instances of what ecologists can research are as follows:

  • Organism relationships and adaptations.
  • How resources and energy are transported through biological systems (such as primary productivity, the cycling of nutrients, etc.).
  • Patterns across time in the life histories, population sizes, habitat use, and behavior of plants and animals.
  • Changes through time in species composition, variations of human and natural disturbance, and habitat connectivity.
  • Succession-related procedures (how the structure of a biological community changes over time).
  • Predation, competition, and collaboration are examples of interactions both within and between species.
  • The variety and dispersion of species.
  • The biodiversity’s patterns.
  • What makes ecosystems work (… what happens when human activities like pollution, introduced species, environmental degradation, illnesses, etc. have an impact on the health and function of ecosystems?).

Ecologists can use science in settings like these:

  • Guiding ecologically friendly development (ecological consultancy).
  • Managing invasive and non-native species.
  • Sanitizing polluted areas (remediation).
  • Sustainable forestry techniques informed by science.
  • Feeding the world’s population in a manner that is ecologically sound, such as through sustainable fisheries and environmentally friendly farming (agricultural and agroecology).
  • Forecasting ecological changes owing to invasive species, future climate scenarios, etc (e.g. using modeling methods).
  • Providing information on ecological dangers and mitigation strategies to politicians and other parties.
  • Putting environmental laws and rules into practice.
  • Controlling the utilization and exploitation of land resources for a variety of uses, including agriculture, irrigation use, and tourism (land management).
  • Putting a price on the advantages that nature offers us (Environmental economics).
  • Gaining knowledge of previous climates and habitats.
  • Performing ex-situ (off-site) conservation work in aquariums, botanical gardens, etc.
  • Teaching people, in-person and online, as well as in-person and online groups, about how humans interact with nature.
  • Supporting conservation biology.
  • Preparing wholesome, sustainable cities.
  • By providing “ecosystem services” like food, fuel, fiber, and medicines, as well as managing erosion, regulating climate, preserving cultural values, and more, we can make sure that ecosystems can continue to support human life.

Ecologists may also decide to focus on a specialized subject, like:

  • Community ecology: Researching the structure and operation of communities, which are made up of interacting populations that share an area.
  • Ecology of populations: the study of the forces that shape factors like availability and distribution in populations.
  • Microbial ecology: Investigating the relationships between microbes, their environment, and other species is known as microbial ecology.
  • Molecular ecology: This is the study of ecology using molecular genetic methods, like DNA markers, to address issues in biogeography, conservation genetics, behavioral ecology, and other fields.
  • Behavioral ecology: The evolutionary study of how an animal’s behavior interacts with its ecological surroundings.
  • Ecosystem ecology: This is the study of the interactions between the ecosystem’s living and non-living elements.
  • Landscape ecology: This is the study of the distribution, relationships, and effects of ecosystems across a vast geographic area (e.g. how spatial variation in the landscape affects interactions and processes).
  • Agroecology: Using ecological concepts to guide innovative management strategies in agricultural systems, for example.
  • Global Ecology: Ecology of the entire planet, including its ecosystems, land, atmosphere, and oceans.
  • Deep ecology: This is an environmental ideology that calls for new connections between people and nature and affirms the importance of all living things.
  • Tropical ecology: This is the study of how organisms in the tropics interact with their surroundings.

What can an ecology degree get you?

Eight possible occupations for those with an ecology degree are listed below:

1. Park ranger

National average yearly salary: $35,725

Primary responsibilities: The major responsibilities of park rangers with an ecology degree are to keep an eye on historical sites, state parks, and national parks to make sure that visitors follow park regulations and preserve the standard of both the inside and outdoor areas. They might also conduct educational tours for guests and respond to inquiries about the park’s natural assets and ecological setting. In addition to protecting antiques, park rangers may make sure that the region is litter- and debris-free. Professionals may be required by employers like the National Park Service to hold an A.S. or B.S. in ecology, earth sciences, or a similar discipline.

2. Laboratory aide

National average yearly salary: $38,311

Primary responsibilities: Lab assistants with an ecology degree often support lab directors while they undertake ecological research. These experts might conduct tests or other procedures, collect or record data, or gather information about a specific organism, environment, or animal relationship to aid in the study. They may also take care of several responsibilities like facility cleaning, inventory management, restocking, and ordering low-stock goods to preserve laboratory conditions.

3. An environmental field technician

National average yearly salary: $40,158

Primary responsibilities: Environmental field technicians with an ecology degree conduct laboratory and field experiments to assess a particular environment, detect pollutants, and gauge their impact. These experts may be under the supervision of environmentalists who will advise them and assess the outcomes of their research. A given environment’s soil, water, and air samples may be tested for contaminants by field technicians. Many instruments and pieces of scientific apparatus, such as water pumps, sound level meters, air sampling monitors, microscopes, and air sampling monitors, may be used by them.

4. A wildlife expert

National average yearly salary: $46,234

Primary responsibilities: Wildlife specialists with an ecology degree can study animal populations and ecosystems within a particular setting to ensure that groups are using state lands in an ecologically responsible manner. Their duties sometimes involve monitoring the reproductive well-being of creatures and the diseases that decimate wildlife populations to comprehend the circumstances and potential weaknesses of a specific species. These experts might tag animals to assist assess their behavior or gather samples from frightened wild creatures.

5. Sustainability consultant

Nationwide average yearly salary: $67,907

Primary responsibilities: Sustainability consultants with an ecology degree frequently work on short-term contracts with a variety of companies to assist them to assess their practices and move toward being more ecologically conscious. Typically, they assist businesses in creating and implementing sustainable solutions while considering the demands and preferences of the engaged employees, the environment, and the business. These experts often have a thorough knowledge of environmental law and policy to make sure that an organization follows the relevant regulations.

6. University professor

Nationwide average yearly salary: $55,278

Primary responsibilities: College-level programs for students in both undergraduate and graduate programs are what ecology professors are normally in charge of creating, planning, and teaching. They can frequently do academic study and write and publish scholarly works. These experts with an ecology degree may be asked to convey material to students in several ways, thus a thorough knowledge of ecological issues and research techniques is essential. Professors of ecology may be expected to hold a Ph.D. from universities, as opposed to a Master’s in Science from state universities and technical institutions.

7. Wildlife biologist

National average yearly salary: $69,162

Primary responsibilities: These specialists with an ecology degree research animals and other biological creatures to determine how they communicate with their surroundings and other species in their ecosystem. They may evaluate the effects that humans exert on the animals that live in natural settings and utilize that information to develop and recommend viable options for human activities or behaviors. To understand a species’ vulnerabilities, wildlife scientists frequently examine animal habits, such as migratory patterns and reproduction rates.

8. Environmental planner

National average yearly salary: $75,283

Primary responsibilities: Environmental planners with an ecology degree assist companies in evaluating their construction projects and determining the potential influence on the current environment and ecosystems in a specific location. Professionals in this job often need to have a thorough awareness of national environmental laws and processes. With this information, they might be able to approve building projects or advise appropriate construction modifications to reduce any potentially harmful effects.

Additional positions for which an ecology degree would be useful

Some positions to think about where an ecology degree would be useful include:

1. A park naturalist

National average yearly salary: $39,915

Primary responsibilities: Park naturalists with an ecology degree carry out a range of jobs to aid in bridging municipal, state, and nature reserves with the neighboring towns and to offer guidance and support to park visitors. They can instruct individuals and teach school groups who visit the nation’s parks about the ecological diversity and paleontology of particular regions. These experts may work for other groups, such as for-profit restoration associations and personal nature centers, to interact with tourists and inform them about the wildlife and creatures that live in these areas.

2. A landscape architect

National average yearly salary: $66,155

Primary responsibilities: Landscape architects with an ecology degree are in charge of creating public areas including parks, playgrounds, gardens, and residential neighborhoods. Its main goals can involve designing surroundings that are both practical and beautiful while taking into account any native animals and ecosystems that might already be there. To show that a professional is knowledgeable about how human infrastructure affects natural settings and how to eliminate excess ecological risk or harm, employers may demand that professionals hold a bachelor’s degree in an applicable discipline, such as ecology.

3. A water resources engineer

National average yearly salary: $78,747

Primary responsibilities: Civil engineers with an ecology degree that specializes in water resources analysis generally keep tabs on a community’s water needs. They could also carry out water treatment plans and supervise the establishments, machinery, and methods used to conserve and control water for a particular population. To handle the wastewater produced by public and commercial businesses, these professionals can also construct pipes, pump systems, treatment facilities, and supply networks.

4. Environmental engineer

National average yearly salary: $81,903

Primary responsibilities: Environmental engineers with an ecology degree are experts that design novel approaches to ecological issues and employ data-driven research to produce lasting and significant projects. This position may involve keeping an eye on the level of pollution in the area, working with designers and construction companies to create structures and infrastructure that are environmentally friendly, and making suggestions for improved waste management practices. They can keep tabs on the development of initiatives to improve the environment and make sure they’re carried out by applicable national regulations and laws about the environment.

5. A field ecologist

National average yearly salary: $79,693

Primary responsibilities: Field ecologists with an ecology degree may acquire information and perform studies on wildlife to evaluate the local ecology and animal populations. The knowledge gathered by these experts can subsequently be used to carry out restoration operations or develop habitat management strategies. They might be in charge of the timetable, finances, materials, and other details of a project to improve the habitat. An M.S. or a Ph.D. may offer further training and relevant work experience that can qualify individuals for this profession, even though some organizations may just demand a related bachelor’s degree.

Where are ecologists employed?

With an ecological profession, you can choose from a variety of job settings that suit your preferences, including the office, the laboratory, the field, or even remote field locations.

You can find your way through an environmental career by being aware of the various employer’s kinds. They are as follows:

  • Academic: Assist in building the research foundation that conservationists need.  Higher education institutions including Stockholm University, Miami University, Cardiff University, Oxford Brookes University, and Oxford University are common examples of employers.
  • Nonprofit: Donate to non-profit and governmental conservation efforts through the charity, non-governmental organization, or “third sector.” Several organizations come to mind, such as American Conservation Experience, Ducks Unlimited, Ecology Project International, Freshwater Habitats Trust, South African National Biodiversity Institute, and WWF.
  • Organization: Work with for-profit corporations, ecological consulting companies, or other organizations that require ecologists, like Network Rail, Ramboll, Thomson Environmental Consultants, The Ecology Practice, AGB Environmental, and Ocean Ecology. NHBS (a seller of books on ecology and other things) and other companies also give employment in the environmental sector.
  • Government: Assist in establishing regional, national, or global policies and enforcing best practices with the civil servants or public sector. The U.S. Forest Service, the Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands, the Falkland Islands Government, the North Somerset Council (UK), and Fisheries and Oceans Canada are a few examples of governmental organizations and agencies.
  • Enterprise:  Become a part of the start-up, commercial entrepreneurship, or innovation sector, and use business tactics to maximize gains in the environment’s and people’s well-being. Ecology Training UK is one example.


Don’t restrict yourself if you’re thinking of being an ecologist in the future!

After receiving your training, you might decide to concentrate on developing new environments for biodiversity to flourish, making up for biodiversity loss in the growth and planning industry, assisting in the training of prospective ecologists, or even using environmental education to question and alter our accepted social norms.

Ecologists are crucial to understanding the world we live in and influencing how our planet will develop in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions about ecology degrees

  • Who are ecologists?

Scientists who specialize in ecology research the interactions between living organisms, including humans, and their surroundings.

In other words, from a single mushroom to the Great Bear Rainforest and beyond, ecologists can examine these linkages everywhere from the scale of a single organism to a population, community, ecosystem, or biosphere.

  • What is the typical pay for ecologists?

Ecologists, especially ecological consultants, make a respectable living in the conservation field.

With industry and government typically offering the highest incomes, followed by the educational and nonprofit sectors, compensation might vary based on the type of employment.

The National Careers Service reports that the average annual pay for ecologists in the UK varies from £22,000 for those who are just starting to £45,000+ for those who have experience. An ecology director can earn significantly more money.

Based on 130 anonymous salary submissions to Glassdoor, the average ecologist’s income in the United States is USD 60,855 per year.

Ecologists in Canada earn between CAD 23 and $56.41 per hour, with CAD 38.04 per hour being the median wage, as stated by the Government of Canada.

  • How can I train to be an ecologist?

A bachelor’s degree, which can be earned in 3 or 4 years of full-time study depending on your location of study, is commonly required to become an ecologist. For employment as an ecologist in your early career, you might additionally need appropriate practical experience.

  • What academic qualification is required for an ecologist?

A bachelor’s degree in biology, botany (plant science), ecology, or marine biology is typically required for careers as ecologists. Additionally, many employers may take degrees in allied fields like zoology, conservation biology, environmental science, microbiology, environmental planning, earth science, or geology. Jobs as ecologists require a strong background in chemistry.

A master’s degree is preferred or necessary for several positions, including those held by environmental strategists and consultants, program managers, managers of natural resources, and ecologists/biologists in the public, private, or nonprofit sectors. For positions in academic research, teaching, and other research fields, a Doctorate is frequently necessary. Also, some ecologists might decide to pursue professional certification in their nation or region (or be compelled to do so).

Real-world experience can significantly improve your chances of finding employment while beginning a profession as an ecologist. We advise using internships, volunteer work, and other job experience opportunities to supplement your academic studies.