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Alternative titles for this job include Ecologist, Conservationist

Ornithologists study the behaviour, ecology, classification and conservation of birds and their habitats.

Average salary (a year)

£18,000 Starter


£35,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

38 to 40 variable

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays away from home

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How to become

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How to become an ornithologist

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course


Most ornithologists have a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in a relevant subject like:

  • biology
  • ecology
  • environmental science
  • zoology

You may need a postgraduate qualification for some jobs.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • at least 1 A level, or equivalent, for a foundation degree
  • between 1 and 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a higher national diploma or degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More Information


Relevant experience is increasingly important, and you may be able to get this by becoming a volunteer or seasonal warden with organisations like the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the British Trust for Ornithology.

More Information

Career tips

You'll need a British Trust for Ornithology ringing permit and experience as a birdwatcher to become a bird warden.

You can find job vacancies related to ornithology and other branches of ecology at environmentjob.

Professional and industry bodies

You can register with the British Ornithologists' Union, which has study resources for students and professionals, and information about help with course funding.

Further information

You can find out more about becoming an ornithologist from the British Ornithologists' Union.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • knowledge of biology
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to work well with others
  • science skills
  • maths knowledge
  • concentration skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

You may spend time on tasks in the field or laboratory. You could work on monitoring bird populations, rehabilitation or conservation projects.

In your day-to-day duties you could:

  • conduct surveys in the field to collect research data
  • monitor bird species
  • track bird movements
  • collect, analyse and evaluate data
  • prepare reports, management plans and presentations
  • give talks or presentations to the public
  • recruit, lead and support teams of volunteers
  • engage with local community and land owners on conservation initiatives

Working environment

You could work in the countryside.

Your working environment may be outdoors in all weathers and you'll travel often.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

With experience you might become a supervisor or manage projects. You could use your knowledge to write, teach or produce learning resources to educate people on different types of birds and conservation.

Current opportunities

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Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for an ornithologist right now.

The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

Courses In England

Environmental Science A-level

  • Start date: 13 September 2022
  • Location: Haywards

Environmental Science A Level

  • Start date: 05 September 2022
  • Location: Worcester

Jobs In the United Kingdom

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