Wetland Ecologist

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					Wetland Ecologist
A wetland ecologist works in the natural science profession. His job is to
assess the health of wetlands, as well as to determine how human
activities, as well as nature, influence a wetland’s physical conditions.
Wetland ecologists determine these factors by experimenting in the field. If
it is thought that human activities have affected a wetland, then an example
experiment might be completing a transect across the boundary where
humans have disturbed and left a wetland alone. They then compare the
flora, fauna, as well as water levels to determine if significant changes have
taken place. Suburban sprawl combined with global warming have
magnified the problems of disappearing wetlands. Since wetlands are on
every continent except Antarctica, qualified ecologists are needed around
the world. This will be beneficial to anyone who likes to travel, as many
choose to work abroad, or at least attend/speak at international wetland

Universities, local, state, and federal governments, as well as private
companies hire wetland ecologists. Real estate developers need wetland
ecologists to assess where and what types of land are suitable for
development. Wetland ecologists work standard 40+ hour weeks, but often
start work in the field soon after dawn, as daylight is needed to work.
Benefits vary by employer, but if working for a university, wetland
ecologists can be given scholarships for their graduate school research, as
well as standard university benefits if they are on staff. Wetland ecologists
differ from other ecologists in that they specialize with wetlands. Many
types of flora and fauna are unique to a wetland’s ecosystem.

Field          Ecology

Job Title       Wetland Ecologist
               PhD             Masters    Bachelors      Associate    School          Other
                                                                      Society of
                                                                      Wetland          GIS
                                Common,                               Ecologists      certification
Education       Not required   but not                                offers          may be
                               required   Required                    certification   required
Location       International   Regional   States         Population   Employers       Top
                                                                           Density                       Schools
                                   All of        Especially Wisconsin,                                   Indiana U,
                                   United        Minnesota, N&S                                          Louisiana
                                   States        Dakota, Alabama,                        Government,     State U, U
                   Yes                           Mississippi, Florida,     Suburban      non-profit,     of
                                                 N&S Carolina              and rural     and private     Maryland,
                   Range           Hours         Benefits                  Atmosphere
                   Lowest 10%-     Full-time,
Working            <$33000         greater
Conditions         Highest 10%-    than 40       Generally                 Atmosphere: Travel, Office, Field Work,
                   >$80000         hours         comprehensive             Collaborative, Individual, Laboratory

Marketable         Written and communication, persistence, technical skills related to data collection and
Skills             assessment. Specialized knowledge of wetlands.

                    Conducting field research, analyzing research and data, writing reports, teaching knowledge
                   and skills to others

      A Day in the Life…
 If a wetland ecologist is the career you choose, then be prepared to spend
time outdoors. Most research is done within a wetland area, which of
course, is wet and subject to weather patterns. Depending on the location
and weather conditions, research might be done out in the sun, knee-deep
in water. Working in other areas like Ireland, may be colder. Research is
aimed at recording changes in water levels, as well as identifying the
number and type of plant species within the wetland. Changes in these
details usually indicate problems outside the wetlands. Dealing with
invasive species is one of the main concerns of a wetland ecologist.
Invasive species out-compete other species, causing deterioration of
biodiversity. Other concerns are the preservation and restoration of
wetlands. Developments of rural areas, as well as global warming are
drying wetlands up and making healthy, functional wetlands scarce. When
not out in the field doing research, a wetland ecologist might be teaching a
class at the university where they are completing their research. Higher
experienced and educated wetland ecologists may choose to focus on
policy legislation and education positions as well. Many companies hire
wetland ecologists to assess environmental impacts their company might
make on existing wetlands.
Protected Career Outlook
The future of a career in wetland ecology is contingent on the preservation
of wetlands. Across the world, wetlands are being drained to provide
housing as well as farmland for humans. This has both a positive and
negative impact for wetland ecologists. While many choose to work on
policy legislation to prevent the loss of wetlands, others are needed to
designate the best land for real estate development. Global warming is
also contributing to the loss of wetlands. While wetland ecologists might be
hired by developers to assess wetland development, other trained wetland
ecologists might be able to give a job studying other types of freshwater

From the BLS for a conservation scientist
Percentile          10         25         50         75         90
Hourly Wage    $15.74     $20.48     $27.00     $33.74     $39.46
Annual Wage   $32,750    $42,590    $56,150    $70,180    $82,080

Education and Preparation
The minimum education required to become a wetland ecologist is to
complete a Bachelor’s degree in ecology or a similar concentration.
Students need to be research and detail oriented. Many wetland ecologists
will earn a Master’s degree in areas such as ecology, biology, limnology,
etc. Master’s degrees are often earned while completing research at a
university. A number of universities offer specific degrees in wetland
ecology include Indiana University, LSU, and Coastal Carolina University.
The Smithsonian Institution, as well as the Society of Wetland Ecologists
also offers certification. Top researchers can continue their research and
earn a Ph D, which means better funding, more people working under you,
and might include getting papers published in widely-read scientific


Examples of employers include the Department of Natural Resources,
EPA, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Fish and Wildlife Service, research
universities, etc. The southeastern United States as well as areas along the
Mississippi River contains many of the Wetlands in the United States.

Related Environmental Careers

According to the Society of Wetland Scientists, wetland ecologists could
also find a career as: environmental planner, wildlife biologist, habitat
conservation specialist, vegetation specialist, as well as a full-time

Further Information
Wetland ecology: principles and conservation-Paul A. Keddy

Wetland creation and restoration: the status of the science-JA Kusler

Society for Wetland Scientists -Provides news, membership info, job postings,
academic programs, as well as links to journals, publishers, and other organizations

Bureau of Labor Statistics-The Bureau of Labor Statistics is the principal fact-finding
agency for the Federal Government in the broad field of labor economics and statistics.
The BLS can be used to research different careers, including almost all the relevant
information related to those careers Center for Wetland Ecology, a Dutch based
university coalition performing international research in the U.S., Mexico, England,
Norway, Sweden, and the Philippines

Authored and Researched by Zach Lipschutz

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