Within most companies you will start as a Graduate or Assistant Ecologist. As you progress within your career, you will transition into a Consultant Ecologist, Senior Ecologist and finally a Principal Ecologist. Larger, multi-disciplinary consultancies may have different organisational structures, but the role requirements will be roughly similar.
As a Graduate or Assistant Ecologist, the role will likely involve the following, though can differ significantly between companies:
• Supporting the senior team
• Assisting with protected species surveys
• Drafting reports
• Undertaking Preliminary Ecological Appraisals (PEAs) and Phase 1 Habitat surveys
• ECoW once training has been completed
• Undertaking protected species surveys alone that do not require a licence, such as reptile surveys
Undertaking any surveys unassisted should only be expected once appropriate training has been provided and sufficient experience has been attained.
It is a common misconception that employers favour applicants with ecology or conservation-based degrees, but this is not necessarily the case. While these certainly provide useful knowledge and perhaps some fieldwork experience, it is hands-on practical experience and a passion for nature which is most valuable. However, there are some skills and certifications which are frequently required for job applications to a Graduate/Assistant ecologist role:
• Membership of the Chartered Institute for Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) (Qualifying CIEEM or Student CIEEM)
• Some practical experience either from volunteering, work experience or seasonal ecology work (usually one season minimum)
• Basic species identification skills and knowledge of conservation legislation is advantageous
• Full and clean driving licence
• Access to your own vehicle