Ornithologist

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

Salary Range: £18,000 to £35,000

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You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
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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
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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.

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.

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Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • knowledge of biology
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to work well with others
  • science skills
  • maths knowledge
  • the ability to read English
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • excellent written communication skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties could include:

  • conducting surveys
  • monitoring bird species 
  • tracking bird movements
  • collecting, analysing and evaluating data
  • preparing reports, management plans and presentations

Working environment

You could work in the countryside.

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

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Career path and progression

With experience you might become a supervisor.