Ecology masters programs may be the right choice if you're interested in establishing and tending the balance between the natural world and more modern society. For some people, the world they live in represents a balance between human interests and natural interests. These are the individuals who are concerned with sustainability, conservation and our impact on the environment.
As the world marches ever onward toward a more industrialized, technologized future, and the past decade's population explosion continues to swell, the need for such ecologically minded people will likely grow to new heights.
If you're interested in establishing and tending the balance between the natural world and more modern society, a graduate degree in ecology may be the right choice for you.
Common Coursework in Ecology Graduate Programs
Ecology is a branch of scientific study, similar to biology. As such, the Ecological Society of America recommended that students interested in pursuing a career in this field focus their studies on life science courses, such as biology, chemistry, geology and engineering. Field work is not uncommon for ecologists, so students in the industry should also prepare for a mix of classroom and hands-on lab studies. Students may also find themselves specializing in a particular branch of ecology, such as marine biology or botany, and thus may need to tailor their course selection accordingly.
The ESA also noted that, like most applied sciences, practical experience is an asset for those looking to break into a career in ecology. It's suggested that such experience be pursued in the form of research studies, assisting professors with field work or working as a lab assistant.
Potential Careers for Ecology Graduate Students
As an applied science, there are a variety of career options ecology graduates may pursue. Regardless of sphere, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that as of 2012, the median annual salary for conservation scientists was $61,100, and the source projected a job growth of 3 percent through 2022. Environmental scientists had a BLS-reported 2012 median annual salary of $63,570, with a 15 percent projected growth rate for jobs through 2022. For zoologists and wildlife biologists, the BLS reported a 2012 median annual salary of $57,710. Jobs in this field were estimated to increase by 5 percent through 2022.
Is A Graduate Degree in Ecology Right for You?
Unlike other applied sciences in the STEM fields, ecologists tend to focus more on work in the field than in the lab. This means that the working hours may be less predictable than in other fields, and may also require travel on occasion. The BLS noted that zoologists in particular may spend a good deal of time in the field.
Ecologists also benefit from being socially minded. There is a strong component of advocacy woven into the field, especially for occupations such as conservationists who may find themselves working for environmental advocacy groups. Such positions may require interacting with public officials and policymakers in addition to performing investigative science.