Ecologists are responsible for furthering our understanding of how natural and human-caused changes in the environment influence the behaviour and abundance of species, and how interactions between species and their environment influence the natural world. Their research may include such topics as; how a habitat changes after a fire, how energy flows through ecosystems, the relationships among predators, parasites and prey, the types and organization of plant communities in the landscape, the effects of dam construction on wildlife habitats, and others topics.
To become an entry-level ecologist, you need to begin by earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science, Biology or a closely related field. It is crucial to obtain a solid foundation in areas such as morphology, physiology, genetics, microbiology, zoology, botany, conservation biology, organic and inorganic chemistry, physics, mathematics, calculus, statistics and computer science.
Depending on your future area of specialization within ecology, you may also want to have an academic background in such diverse subjects as climatology, economics, geology, mathematical modeling, meteorology, oceanography, sociology or soil science.
If you want to become an ecologist who works in research or consulting, you will need a master’s degree in environmental science or biology.
To become an ecologist who works in research and university teaching positions a PhD in environmental science or biology is needed. Many ecologists also choose to continue their training as post-doctoral fellows after receiving their Ph.Ds.
You'll need to show:
• enthusiasm about, and fascination for, animals and plants
• expertise in one or more groups of living organisms
• capacity to identify different species as appropriate to the role
• enthusiasm for undertaking fieldwork in sometimes harsh conditions
• competence in understanding and using statistics and other ecological data
• the ability to use computer software for recording, analysing and presenting data and reports
• excellent written communication, research and presentation skills
• experience of report writing
• confidence in using survey techniques and identification keys
• teamworking and project-management skills
• self-motivation, energy and drive
• an objective approach to working in conservation.
Employment of ecologist and specialists is projected to grow 11 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Heightened public interest in the hazards facing the environment, as well as the increasing demands placed on the environment by population growth, is expected to spur demand for environmental scientists and specialists.
ARE YOU FIT FOR THE JOB?
If you are interested in the natural world, the environment, ecosystems, and you have a scientific mind, then you are well suited for a career as an ecologist.
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