Careers in Ecology

By Ethan Moser - Last update

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What is Ecology?

Ecology is the study of the relationship between living things, including humans, and their environments. Students pursuing careers in ecology will explore ecological principles such as evolution, adaptation, and recycling. 

What 3rd Level Courses are Available?

  • Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering courses in the following subject areas:
    • Environmental Biology – the study of the biological aspects of environmental science.
    • Ecology – the study of the relationship between living things and their environment.
    • Biology – the study of life and living things.

Studying Ecology in College

Most first year study involves an overview of the subject. This will offer students an introduction to the foundational principles of ecology including biology, chemistry, and mathematics. 

In subsequent years of study, students will combine practical work, written exams, and laboratory work as benchmark assessments of their course progression. 

Most undergraduate ecology courses run for three or four years and in certain cases universities will facilitate work experience. 

It is common with all science-based subjects that students are expected to engage in a high number of contact hours with lecturers and tutors, ensuring their successful completion of a rigorous curriculum and preparing them for careers in ecology after university.

A bachelor’s degree is adequate for some non-research jobs. For example, graduates with a bachelor’s degree may start working as fishery managers, pollution biologists, or wildlife preservation officers. 

Career Options

Graduating from college with a degree in Ecology will serve you well as it equips you with a unique and marketable skill set. A science degree teaches students to think critically and creatively as well as equipping them with invaluable problem solving and communication skills. 

Many recent graduates have gone into ‘entry-level’ careers in ecology working as environmental engineers, marine biologists, and conservation specialists. 

Other careers in ecology that require a higher degree of responsibility will typically require further education, training and/or experience to qualify for, eg teaching, research and consulting positions.

 Related jobs include:

  • Fishery Manager
  • National Park Supervisor
  • Environmental Consultant
  • Environmental Engineer
  • Habitat Ecologist
  • Scientific Supervisor
  • Pollution Biologist
  • Conservation Specialist
  • Wildlife Officer
  • Researcher / Professor

Further study

An undergraduate ecology degree is often the first step to go onto further postgraduate study often involving specialization in particular fields and areas of ecology and/or undertaking work in new, sometimes interdisciplinary fields, such as pollution research, conservation studies, or wildlife preservation. 

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  • What points do I need to study Ecology?
    • Different courses and different colleges will have different entry requirements. It’s always best that you check with the individual higher education institution which is available on their websites. As a general rule Leaving Cert students should have a minimum of six subjects which should include: Two H5 (Higher Level) grades and Four O6 (Ordinary Level) grades or four H7 (Higher Level) grades. Subjects must include Mathematics, Irish or another language, and English.
    • Many universities also require a Leaving Cert grade O2/H6 in Mathematics, O2/H6 in Laboratory Science, and O6/H7 in English, Irish and two other recognized subjects. 
  • Are there any particular qualities you need to study Ecology?
    • Students interested in careers in Ecology will need to enjoy math and science as well as their application in the real world. They will need to be innovative, creative, and collaborative as well as being able to communicate their own ideas and opinions. 
  • Where can I study Ecology?
    • Explore your options here

Did You Know?

  • The amount of water on Earth remains a constant, though it is always being recycled. That means that your glass of water may have once passed through the body of a dinosaur!
  • Over 27,000 trees are cut down daily for the sole purpose of producing toilet paper!
  • The phrase “blind as a bat” is misleading as there are upwards over 1,200 unique species of bats and not a single one of them is blind!


Ethan Moser

Civil Engineering
Environmental Science


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