What does an ecologist do?

Ecologists work for conservation organisations, not-for-profit and non-governmental organisations, and in the public and private sector. Ecologists study the relationship between plants, animals and their environment. The aim of their work could range from balancing the needs of the environment to coming up with ideas for land management. As an ecologist, you would normally specialise in a particular type of environment, for example marine or coastal areas, or a specific animal or plant species.

Why does an ecologist do this?

Ecologists' work is essential to conserving Australia's ecosystems and its biodiversity. Ecologists also have a vital role in areas such as urban expansion, irrigation, climate change and invasive species.

How does an ecologist do their work?

Some typical tasks include:

  • Collecting and analysing data to determine environmental conditions and restoration needs;
  • Developing and communicating recommendations for landowners to maintain or restore environmental conditions;
  • Planning environmental restoration projects, using biological databases, environmental strategies, and planning software;
  • Communicating findings of environmental studies or proposals for environmental remediation to other restoration professionals;
  • Conducting site assessments to certify a habitat or to ascertain environmental damage or restoration needs;
  • Developing environmental restoration project schedules and budgets;
  • Creating habitat management or restoration plans, such as native tree restoration and weed control;
  • Supervising and provide technical guidance, training, or assistance to employees working in the field to restore habitats;
  • Applying for permits required for the implementation of environmental remediation projects;
  • Creating diagrams to communicate environmental remediation planning using geographic information systems (GIS), computer-aided design (CAD) or other mapping or diagramming software.

Where do ecologists do their work?

Most Ecologists carry out both field-based and office or laboratory-based activities.
When working in a laboratory or writing up research you could be based at one site and work between 37 and 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. You may have to travel to visit other sites or go to meetings.
Research and fieldwork could involve longer and irregular working hours, including evenings and weekends. You could be working outdoors for long periods of time.
Many jobs include travel, so you are likely to need a full driving license.

Tertiary study

To work as an ecologist you could start with a Bachelor of Science with a major in:

You could also gain specialised knowledge and more practical experience through graduate study, including:

Companies that employ graduates