Biological scientists > Ornithologist
Animal care | Environment and land
Ornithologists study the behaviour, ecology, classification and conservation of birds and their habitats.
£18,000 Starter - £35,000 Experienced
38 to 40 variable (evenings / weekends / bank holidays away from home)
Where to start
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 or zoology. You may need a postgraduate qualification for some jobs.
You'll usually need at least 1 A-Level, or equivalent, for a foundation degree and between 1 and 3 A-Levels for a higher national diploma or degree. You'll need a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study.
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. You'll need a British Trust for Ornithology ringing permit and experience as a birdwatcher to become a bird warden.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- 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
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
You could work in the countryside.
Your working environment may be outdoors in all weathers and you'll travel often.
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.