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Occupational Profile

Ecologist

Ecologists study the interactions between living things and their environment to understand 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.

Also Known As

Biological Scientist, Naturalist, Research Scientist

Regulated Occupation

Employment and Advancement

Occupational outlook is currently unavailable. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Ecologists are employed by the following types of organizations:

  • provincial and federal governments
  • universities and colleges
  • research institutions
  • conservation organizations
  • environmental consulting firms
  • large private corporations such as manufacturers of agricultural products, forestry companies, paper manufacturers, and oil and gas companies.

Governments often employ ecologists to complete policy assessments in relation to environmental issues. Many ecologists, particularly those with master's degrees, are involved in identifying gaps in environmental impact assessments and developing recommendations for improvements to meet legislated requirements. Additional experience with legal aspects of environmental biology is an asset for those involved in environmental impact assessments.

Corporations employ ecologists to help safeguard supplies of raw materials, make sure their operations comply with government regulations, and monitor processes and products.

Related summer work experience or volunteer experience is a definite asset when university graduates are looking for work. Entry level jobs often are short-term contract positions.

Applicants who have bachelor's degrees may be hired for non-research positions that involve conducting laboratory tests or inspections, or collecting routine field data. Advancement opportunities are limited for ecologists who only have a bachelor's degree. A doctoral degree usually is required for university and independent research positions, and may be required for advancement to senior management positions.

Ecologists are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 2121: Biologists and Related Scientists. In Alberta, 80% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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