An ecologist studies the interactions among the organisms and environmental conditions of an ecosystem. Ecology is a science that requires gathering a huge amount of data from a lot of sources. An ecologist must do this while at the same time keeping in mind the “big picture” that an ecosystem represents. Most ecologists start out with a degree in a natural science and several seasons of fieldwork under their belts before moving on to a graduate program in ecology or a related subject. Ecologists can work as professors, consultants, natural resource managers, research scientists, and much more. Ecologists with doctorates often specialize in specific areas such as marine, microbial, desert, urban, or rain forest ecology. Whatever your specialty, you should expect to perform several months of fieldwork per year as an ecologist, and you should also be comfortable with writing research papers and grant proposals. Because ecology involves the biotic and abiotic factors of an ecosystem, it helps to have a solid educational background in chemistry, physics, and geology.

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