Career Planning for Ecologists – Part 4: Enhancing Employability

Continued from Career Planning for Ecologists – Part 3: Analysing Vacancies

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Enhancing Employability

Ecologists are in a slightly different position, compared to their lab-based bioscience counterparts, with regard to their job prospects relative to their qualifications. Apart from research and academic posts, many ecology-related careers are as accessible to those with relevant work experience as for Masters or PhD-qualified candidates. In fact, short courses run by organisations such as the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) (4) offer excellent opportunities to increase much sought-after ecological skills. Having said that, recognized Masters degrees with plenty of practical, industry-relevant content will be an asset to environmental scientists or ecologists looking to enhance their qualifications. Additionally, membership of, or affiliation to, professional associations such as the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) and CIEEM, as well as being proficient using recognised methodologies, e.g. GIS, BREEAM and project management all increase an ecologist’s chances of gaining employment and accessing more senior positions.

This accumulation of experience can start as early as school and, in particular at University where voluntary placements, internships, membership of local conservation organisations etc. can add very usefully to a graduate’s CV. Short courses and other development opportunities are usually offered at discount prices to student members (e.g. IEEM, Mammal Society) and, of course, membership of learned societies such as the BES and the Society for Experimental Biology offer many benefits including reduced registration to scientific meetings.

 Interested in reading more?

Check out Sarah Blackford’s recently published book Career Planning for Research Bioscientists.



 The above story is reprinted from materials provided by BES Bulletin. The original article was written by author Sarah Blackford.

Image Credit: Liza Shoenfeld,


Career Planning for Ecologists – Part 3: Analysing Vacancies

Continued from Career Planning for Ecologists – Part 2: Accessing the Job Market

Analysing Vacancies

Examining job specifications, rather than skimming job titles and basic job descriptions, will give you more of an insight into what exactly a post involves and whether it might be of interest to you now or in the future. The duties and responsibilities of the Assistant Ecologist are quite basic and this is reflected in the kinds of activities required as well as a lowish salary (not shown). The senior post provides an insight into where the Assistant Ecologist might aspire to progress in future and the experience, qualifications and skills required to reach this level.

This applies to all jobs. If you are a postdoctoral researcher look at fellowship descriptions or lectureship advertisements to determine what you ought to be doing now to position yourself to apply for these higher level posts. If you are looking to broaden your horizons and apply for ecology-related or non-related posts such as communication or project management, you will have to ensure your job exploration keywords are not limiting your job search. Additionally, by examining the job specifications for these careers and/or investigating the profile of those already working in your chosen profession will give you an idea of the experience or qualifications needed to make a career change. This might be done through voluntary work, taking a course or networking (see the next Section: ‘Enhancing Employability’).

Interested in reading more?

Check out Sarah Blackford’s recently published book Career Planning for Research Bioscientists.

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by BES Bulletin. The original article was written by author Sarah Blackford.

Image Credit: AIA Arizona

Career Planning for Ecologists – Part 2: Accessing the Job Market

Continued from Career Planning for Ecologists – Part 1: Opportunities

Accessing the Job Market

 It is perhaps an urban myth (no real data and statistics seem to be available) that only 30% of jobs are actually advertised. Whether this is true or not remains debatable, however if you take account of those positions you may have applied for where you had the suspicion someone was already lined up, this figure may not be far from the truth. You too may have benefited from being put into post or offered a PhD without competition, or you may have been interviewed for a job where it was made clear you were the main contender.

Hiring is a risky business for employers. They have probably invested time and money in their advertisement, the position may be crucial to the success of their company, their new employee will need to fit into the company culture and team. Only a job specification and interview stands between the vacant post and the filled post so they need to get it right. With this in mind, Continue reading