What Are Some Popular Career Options in Ecology?

There are several options if you're looking to pursue a career in ecology. You may find work as a park naturalist, environmental consultant, restoration ecologist or natural resource manager. If you are interested in working with the environment, read on to find out more regarding some popular career options in ecology. Schools offering Biology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Ecology Career Field Overview

Positions in the field of ecology exist for various levels of education and talents, although most jobs require a bachelor's degree. Whether you prefer working outside in the field or inside a lab or office, there is a career option for you in ecology, the science of organisms and the environment. Continue reading for an overview of four careers within ecology.

Important Facts About Career Options in Ecology

Park Naturalist Environmental Consultant Restoration Ecologist
Median Salary (2018) $61,340 (for all conservation scientists and foresters) $71,130 (for all environmental scientists and specialists) $61,340 (for all conservation scientists and foresters)
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 6% growth 11% growth 6% growth
Professional Certification Voluntary; certifications vary by state Voluntary; Certified Hazardous Materials Managers designation available through the Institute of Hazardous Materials Management Voluntary; Certified Ecologist designation available through the Ecological Society of America
Key Skills Ingenuity; problem-solving; critical thinking; attention to detail Observation; analytical thinking; time management; clear communication Reading comprehension; problem-solving; monitoring; excellent evaluation capability

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Park Naturalist

If you like to teach people about ecology while working with the beautiful, natural lands of state and national parks, being a park naturalist might be for you. Park naturalists' duties include developing walking routes and educational materials regarding local animals, plants and geology to present on park tours. They may also prepare pamphlets or brochures of information or create exhibits. You can enter this career field with an associate's degree.

Environmental Consultant

An environmental consultant researches ecological situations and provides expert opinions. Consultants often examine how industrial development projects affect the environment, and they may perform phase I or phase II environmental site assessments. They may also collect data on endangered species or evaluate the damage caused by oil spills. As part of the job, they may take soil, air and water samples, analyze the data and write up reports. Eventually, environmental consultants may become project managers. If you want to go into consulting, you could work in the public, private, government or nonprofit sectors. You usually need a bachelor's degree to become an environmental consultant.

Restoration Ecologist

Restoration ecologists implement plans to correct damaged ecosystems; for example, they may work to reclaim degraded farming or mining land. As a restoration ecologist, you may work for the government, private consulting companies or environmental organizations, filling positions like government regulatory officer, ecological restoration contractor or private land manager. A bachelor's degree is typically necessary to become a restoration ecologist.

Natural Resource Manager

Ecologists who direct and manage scientific research about environmental issues are known as natural resource managers. They work with chemists, geologists, physicists, biologists and agricultural and medical scientists. Natural resource managers find ways to use natural resources, such as water, air and soil, for human use while preserving the resource and the environment. They may spend more time in an office analyzing data and planning than other ecology professionals. You may be able to move into a management position with a bachelor's degree and experience, though master's degree programs in natural resource management can also prepare you for this job.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools