Do you need to understand the implications of environmental problems and prescribe solutions? Do you enjoy science-related fields such as biology, botany and geology? Do you enjoy nature and the outdoors or working in a laboratory? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, the area of ecology might be for you.

What Is An Ecologist?

Ecologists study the relationships between organisms and their environment, and how factors such as population size, pollutants, rainfall, and temperature influence them.

What Do Ecologists Do?

  • Use scientific and mathematic models that combine field and laboratory work on development of ecological concepts
  • Study the lives of specific kinds of organisms, ranging from microscopic size to larger plants and animals.
  • Study the interaction among individuals of a single species (population ecology), or among different species (community ecology) or between groups of species and the physical environment (ecosystem ecology).
  • Consult with professionals in many different areas from road builders to tree farmers about environmental concerns.
  • Prepare environmental impact studies that government agencies request before construction occurs on a particular site.

Where Do Ecologists Work?

Ecologists work in many areas. An ecologist may be employed in private industries such as those that produce energy, timber, and fish. They may also be employed by universities, government agencies, consulting firms, research laboratories, and museums. Ecologists may work in laboratories with dangerous or toxic substances. Many enjoy trips into the field involving strenuous physical activity in unusual climates and primitive living conditions.


A Bachelor of Science degree is the minimum degree required for non-research jobs, which include technician jobs such as environmental testing and inspection. A Master’s degree is necessary in applied research or management and for many jobs in environmental inspection, sales, and service. A Ph.D. is required to teach at the college level, to do independent research, or advance into administrative positions.