Department of Environmental Sciences

Career Opportunities in Ecology


What is Ecology?

Ecologists contribute significantly to our understanding and preservation of the natural world. They provide knowledge to assess ecological issues in a wide range of environments, to solve problems in meeting the food, shelter and health needs of humans, and to enrich the lives of people everywhere through a greater insight into the mysteries of the biosphere.

Ecologists:

  • conduct research outdoors and in the laboratory - by asking both theoretical and practical questions that can be investigated using scientific techniques in exotic places or close to home.
  • teach students and the general public - at universities or colleges as well as at high schools, museums and nature centers.
  • apply ecological knowledge to solve environmental problems - by investigating ecological issues, interacting with affected communities, writing environmental impact statements and designing sustainable practices.
  • help manage natural resources - by monitoring, managing or restoring populations and ecosystems.
  • advise students and local, state and federal policy makers - by recommending course work and research, working on committees and providing the best available scientific information to politicians.
  • communicate with co-workers, students and the public - by writing articles and research papers, giving lectures and presentations, participating in discussions and conducting outreach in their local communities.

What is the job outlook like?

There is a growing need to understand and manage the natural world and our impact on it. This need has resulted in a growth in job opportunities for individuals with ecological backgrounds to conduct ecological research, to determine environmental impacts, to develop management plans to avoid environmental problems and restore ecosystems, to educate the general public and to develop and manage sustainable communities.

Job opportunities in the ecological and environmental fields are predicted to grow enormously over the next several years - especially in private companies, non-government organizations, and in pre-college schools, universities and museums.

A wide variety of positions requiring the application of ecological principles are available, though the title might not include “ecologist.” Some of these job titles include: climate change analyst, education coordinator, environmental consultant, lobbyist, marine scientist, program manager, science teacher, wildlife biologist and zookeeper. Remember, personal experiences may help to define new job descriptions and with every experience comes more responsibility, financial compensation and opportunities.

RESOURCES: 
Ecological Society of America (ESA): Explore Ecology as a Career

Last Updated: 9/16/20