One or more of my degrees is not in ecology. Can I still apply for certification?
Yes, provided you are able to meet the educational requirements and can show that your recent work experience involves application of ecological and biological principles to an appropriate degree for the level at which you are applying. Supplemental materials such as reports or other publications may be particularly helpful in demonstrating this. There are also places on the application forms to explain how the content of your degree program relates to the field of ecology. While you may have a degree outside of ecology, the qualifying degree being used for certification must still be in a related science.
One or more of my degrees is from an international institution. Can I still apply for certification?
Yes, provided your institution is accredited. For smaller, less well-known institutions, both abroad and in the U.S., additional information and/or documentation is encouraged.
I did not attend a school with a traditional semester/quarter system, or have continuing education courses. How can I determine my credit hours?
One semester hour equals one classroom meeting a week for 12-14 weeks, or two field/lab hours a week for 12-14 weeks. Therefore, a full three-credit course has three lecture hours a week, and a four-credit course has three lecture hours plus two lab hours, or two lecture hours plus a four-hour field trip.
Another way of thinking about this is that a total of 45-46 contact hours of class time equal a three-credit lecture. A person in a six-day course with eight hours a day of contact time then has 48 hours, or the equivalent of a three-credit lecture in semester hours. Number of contact hours includes the time for exams.
Does ESA require or endorse any continuing education programs?
While ESA encourages continuing education, it is not currently a mandatory component of the certification program, and we do not endorse any specific programs. It is important when recertifying to show that you have continued your professional experience and development in the field of ecology, so it may help solidify the Board’s decision to recertify you at your current level or to upgrade your certification should you be applying for it.
Can the Board review my course list and/or program of study before I send in my application?
Unfortunately, the Board cannot assess your qualifications in full until the review period. If you believe a class may require further explanation, we encourage you to do so in your application.
**PLEASE NOTE: As of the 2011 certification application period, the Board will be requiring college/university transcripts to be submitted for anyone applying for New Certification or Certification Upgrade. Transcripts may be official or unofficial and will be used to determine length of professional experience and competency in ecological coursework.
WORK EXPERIENCE REQUIREMENTS
What is the cutoff date for length of experience?
Length of experience will be evaluated up to the Primary Deadline, February 1. If you are not able to meet the minimum post-degree work experience for the level at which you are applying by this date, please wait until next year to apply, particularly if you are applying as an Associate Ecologist or plan to use the Streamlined Process. .
Can time spent during graduate school count towards my work experience?
If you are using a lower degree to fulfill the educational requirements for the level at which you are applying, work experience during graduate school will count as half-time and should be listed accordingly in your application. If educational requirements were met in a graduate program past the qualifying degree, length of experience will begin after the completion of the final required course to meet the basic educational requirements for certification.
What are the Streamlined Process requirements?
In order to qualify for the Streamlined process, you must be a current ESA member, hold a PhD, and have at least 10 years of post-degree work experience, in addition to meeting the other requirements for the Senior Ecologist level.
**Starting in 2011, we are also allowing those with a Master’s Degree who have been previously certified at the Senior Ecologist level to apply using the Streamlined Application form.
Can I use the Streamlined form if I only meet some of these requirements?
No. You will either be denied or asked to complete the appropriate form and provide the Board with any additional required information, including letters of recommendation if appropriate.
How do I know when it is time for me to reapply?
Certification lasts five (5) years. While it is your responsibility to note the dates on your approval letter and certificate, broadcast emails will be sent out during the application period for the year your certification is due to expire, beginning in September or October. Please be sure to keep a current email address on file with ESA so that we may contact you.
Why does ESA require recertification?
Because the certification program is intended for actively practicing ecologists, the Board must periodically reassess whether you have continued to meet the requirements for the level at which you were certified since your credentials were last reviewed. For this reason, it is important that you provide dates for all activities on your CV and your publications list, particularly those undertaken in the past five years.
My certification has lapsed. Which form do I use?
If less than a year has elapsed since your certification expired and you wish to continue at the same level, you may complete a Recertification form and note the lapse in your cover letter. If approved, your certification will be retroactive to the year in which your certification expired, and you will need to apply for recertification in four years rather than five.
If more than a year has elapsed since your certification expired, you must complete a New Certification form and include all required materials, including letters of recommendation and transcripts if applicable. You may, however, note that you were previously certified in your application.
I wish to be considered for a higher level of certification. Which form do I use?
You should complete a Certification Upgrade form and indicate that you are upgrading from your previous level. If the Board does not feel that you meet the requirements for the new level, you will be considered for recertification at your current level.
If you are an Ecologist who meets the requirements for the Streamlined Process, you may use this form instead, and indicate your previous level. However, the Board may request additional information from you if they do not find your cover letter and CV sufficient to evaluate you.
Do you still have my old application on file? If so, may I reuse portions of it instead of filling out the whole application again?
While the Board does bear in mind that you were previously certified at a specific level, they will be looking for evidence that you have remained active and continued your professional development in the five years since your last certification. It is therefore to your advantage to submit an updated version. Forms and requirements tend to change periodically, so please double-check all requirements before submitting your application for recertification.
REFERENCES AND LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION
How many references and letters of recommendation do I need?
Applicants using the New Certification form or Certification Upgrade form must provide two references and two letters of recommendation. Each person listed as a reference should submit a letter of recommendation on the applicant’s behalf. At least one of these references and letters must be from a current ESA member, and only one letter may be from your current organization. Recommenders should not be related in any way to the applicant. Please clearly indicate which reference(s) fulfill the ESA member requirement on your application form. To check your intended recommender’s membership status, please contact the Membership Manager.
Recertification applicants are not required to provide letters of recommendation, but must still provide two references. Again, at least one of these references must be a current ESA member, and should be clearly indicated as such on the application form.
Applicants using the Streamlined Process are not required to provide references or letters of recommendation at this time.
Who should I ask?
Your references and recommenders should be colleagues, supervisors, advisors, or other individuals capable of evaluating your credentials in an informed and objective manner. You may not request a reference or letter of recommendation from a subordinate. Again, note that you may only choose one reference from your current organization and you may not have a member of your family serve as a reference.
How do I go about obtaining an ESA member as a reference/recommender?
If you are an ESA member, you may log in and use the members-only directory to see if any of your references/recommenders are already current ESA members. You may also use the Certified Ecologist directory, which is open to the public. However, please note that not all Certified Ecologists are current ESA members. If you need to check an individual’s membership status, please contact the Membership Manager. Recommenders must be ESA members in the year of the application.
Alternately, you may ask one of your current references to join ESA by the March 31 deadline. If this is fast approaching and your reference is sending his or her membership form by fax or email, please contact the Membership Manager to let her know.