Job description: Ecologist

Written by: Jennifer Jackson
Published on: 3 May 2022

Penguin RecruitmentThe role of an ecologist in planning and development is becoming increasingly vital. Find out more in our latest job description article in partnership with Penguin Recruitment.


Ecologists’ knowledge and expertise is highly coveted in the planning industry, particularly given the new Environment Act 2021 which stipulates that all new development must deliver a net gain in biodiversity (BNG) of ten per cent, either onsite or via offsetting.

As an ecologist in the planning industry, you will use your professional expertise and communication skills to advise on ecological planning matters.


The day-to-day role of an ecologist may include:

  • Working on a variety of protected species surveys
  • Conducting Ecological Impact Assessments (EIAs)
  • Conducting field surveys to collect biological information about the numbers and distribution of organisms
  • Liaising with clients, project managers and stakeholders
  • Preparing fee proposals
  • Keeping up-to-date with new environmental policies and legislation

Key skills

  • Excellent writing skills (especially report writing)
  • Presentation skills
  • Data collection, analysis and GIS such as spatial mapping of ecological networks
  • Survey techniques


Many employers prefer candidates to have a degree in ecology or a relevant discipline, along with a full UK driving licence. CIEEM membership, ideally as a Chartered Environmentalist / Ecologist is advantageous, especially for more senior positions. Volunteering experience is beneficial.

Working hours

Your working hours may vary by organisation and your level of seniority. Flexible working hours are increasingly offered by employers and in turn you may be required to attend meetings outside of normal working hours occasionally, for which time off in lieu is normally available.


As an ecologist you can expect to earn between £19,000 to £23,000 per annum as a starting salary, plus an attractive benefits package.

A recruitment expert’s perspective

"Ecology may be the perfect career for you if you have undertaken an environmental/zoology degree and feel you would enjoy a mix of office and field-based scientific work. Ecologists are an integral part of any economy, ensuring developers legally mitigate risk to protected species. You can take satisfaction in your day-to-day role, knowing you are playing an important part in helping to keep protected species safe and mitigate any risk they are exposed to."

- Tim Joannides, lead ecology recruiter at Penguin Recruitment

An ecologist’s perspective

"A career in ecology is thoroughly rewarding. If you love being outdoors and getting your hands dirty in scientific work, this may be the right path for you. Bear in mind though, the more senior you get as you progress in your career, the more desk-based work you will have. That said, many senior and principal level ecologists can still find they are working in the field 50% of the time. Great in the summer, at times not so fun in the winter (but that’s all part of it)."

- Ecologist

Career opportunities

Many organisations offer great career progression opportunities. Your next steps may include:

  • Senior ecologist
  • Principal ecologist
  • Principal ecologist - biodiversity net gain lead

To discuss ecologist career opportunities or recruitment you can email Tim Joannides, lead ecology recruiter at Penguin Recruitment:

>> Explore ecologist career opportunities with Penguin Recruitment <<