Ecologists are employed by:
- 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 prepare policy assessments in relation to environmental issues. Many ecologists, particularly those with master’s degrees, are hired to identify gaps in environmental impact assessments and come up with recommendations for meeting legislated requirements. Experience with the legal aspects of environmental biology is an asset for those involved in this kind of work.
Corporations often 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 for university graduates looking for work. Entry-level jobs often are short-term contract positions.
Advancement opportunities are limited for ecologists who do not have graduate degrees. Applicants with only bachelor’s degrees may find themselves working in non-research positions that involve laboratory tests or inspections, or collecting routine field data.
A doctoral degree usually is the standard for university and independent research positions, and may be required for advancement to senior management 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 (pdf) 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.
In Alberta, the 2121: Biologists and related scientists occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.1% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 58 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.