What employment sector do you work in?
How long have you had a green job for nature?
£20,000 – £25,000
Please describe the work that you do.
I have a dual role, in the field and in the office. In the field, I conduct an array of surveys: phase 1 habitat survey, protected species, vegetation survey, in order to assess the biodiversity within a particular site and the potential constraints of development. When I’m in the office I’m building on those surveys by carrying out reports to further assess the potential impacts of development, and use the survey results within a wider context, such as policy and guidance.
What do you most like about your job? Any dislikes?
My favourite thing about my job is being immersed in nature, exploring new and important habitats, and getting to indulge in wildlife, which the general person wouldn’t know what to look out for. I also think my job is very important for the biodiversity crisis which I’m glad I can contribute towards.
I think ecologists should be paid more, I think the salary for ecologists could be higher, as well as make the industry more accessible for early careers. I think the consultancy sector could connect more with academia, which would provide students with more real-life job skills.
What inspired you into this career?
I grew up around nature and it was important for me in my childhood and core memories. I wanted to learn more about the hidden, natural world and contribute towards protecting it.
Have you faced any challenges in progressing your career so far?
Yes, getting a first job in the ecology sector was very difficult because companies want experience which I couldn’t get when I was at university because I had to work full-time. I was surprised and disheartened just at the gap between what skills/experience I had Vs what was usually needed. So, I left university needing to learn more and attend training courses whilst maintaining a full-time job. It takes diligence and perseverance. It isn’t a sector that is welcoming of working-class people.
What education/training did you have?
I have a BSc in environmental science from the University of Glasgow and an MSc in environmental management from the University of Stirling. I also have additional training in phase 1 habitat surveys; bat surveys; protected species. I also volunteered with Buglife Scotland for four years.
What advice would you give to someone coming into the profession?
First thing’s first: fall in love with botany. If you have a botanical interest/skills you will be more likely to get an ecology job. Build on this with phase 1 habitat survey training, this will be your bread and butter. ID skills are not taught properly at university but are essential as an ecologist. Volunteer where you can, because this will give you experience, and experience is what employers want. Getting a degree is like a tick box, it gets you an interview but that’s it.