A Career in Ecology
By Clay M. DeLong
Ecology is a branch of biology that deals with living organisms and their relationships with their environments. It is a
discipline science which requires knowledge of various focuses of biology in addition to chemistry, physics, geology,
hydrology, geography, and genetics among others.
What is Ecology?
Ecologists work for universities, federal, state and local governments, environmental
consulting firms, non-governmental conservation organizations (Like the Nature
Conservancy), and numerous other entities. Ecologists, especially those working for
universities, conduct research outdoors in populated and remote areas all over the
world. In addition to field work, ecologists also work in the lab, analyzing samples
collected on site. However, not all ecologists are in the research field. Many are
involved in biological monitoring, environmental consulting, habitat restoration, and
a myriad of other types of work. Others are focused more with the policy aspects of
ecology, working with government agencies to protect and improve habitat, as well
as managing natural resources.
What Does an Ecologist Do?
Though there are many ecology-based jobs open to those with a bachelor’s degree, having a PhD
drastically increases the number and variety of positions open to an ecologist. Having a PhD will also
increase the salary of an ecologist in many positions. Internships and experience in the field and lab
are also invaluable when finding a job as an ecologist.
The demand for ecologists today is ever-growing. With increasing public awareness of environmental issues, funding for
ecological research programs is increasing at an encouraging rate. Considering this increasing demand for ecologists, job
security for ecologists is quite high.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for ecologists working for the federal government is $66,000.
Those working in management, scientific, and technical consulting se