Guidelines and Requirements

Requirements For Eligibility

Ethics And Professional Conduct

Certified Ecologists shall conduct their activities in accordance with the Code of Ethics of the Ecological Society of America and with the highest standards of professional conduct  and personal honor. Those who subscribe to the Code of Ethics are eligible for certification, provided they meet minimum education and experience requirements.

Minimum Education Requirements

Candidates must have completed at least a bachelor’s degree or a higher degree in ecology or a related science that includes the equivalent of at least 30 semester hours of biological science, 9 of which must be in ecology, and at least 12 semester hours of physical and mathematical science. Grades of B minus or higher are required for courses needed to meet requirements. Classes must include an introduction to three major areas of ecological inquiry: populations, communities, and ecosystems.

Levels of Certification

Ecologist in Training  NEW

  • Successful completion of a bachelor’s degree or higher degree in ecology or a related science from an accredited college or university.

The ESA Board of Professional Certification (BPC) is pleased to announce that a new certification category, “Ecologist in Training”, has been created for graduating students who have met the education requirements for ESA certification, but do not have the required professional experience for the current certification categories. This new category will allow young ecologists who have met the education requirements pre-qualify for regular certification. Currently, persons who meet the education requirements must have at least one year of post-graduate professional experience before they can be certified at the Associate Ecologist level. The Ecologist in Training certification category is intended to document quality education in ecological science to aid the students’ ability to obtain employment, encourage graduating students to remain active in ESA, inspire existing students to take a comprehensive set of ecological and biological courses during their degree program, and remind graduating students of the importance of adhering to the guiding principles of conduct described in the ESA Code of Ethics.

The application fee is the same as that for Associate Ecologist. Ecologists in Training will be allowed upgrade to Associate Ecologist earlier than the end of the five year certification period after meeting the professional experience requirement, with no fee charged for the early upgrade. This initial Associate Ecologist certification would end and require recertification or further upgrade in the same year the Ecologist in Training certification had been scheduled to end.

The BPC encourages all ESA members and Certified Ecologists to make undergraduate and graduate students in ecology aware of this new certification category and to help them tailor their coursework to meet the education requirement. With your help, the BPC feels the Ecologist in Training certification will increase the number of persons seeking ESA certification, increase post-graduate participation in ESA, and increase the number of working professionals who take care to adhere to the ESA Code of Ethics in all of their activities.

Associate Ecologist

  • Successful completion of a bachelor’s degree or higher degree in ecology or a related science from an accredited college or university,
  • AND at least one (1) year of post-graduate professional experience* gained in the performance of research or data analysis demonstrating technical competence in current application of ecological principles and/or theory.  Relevant experience should have been gained at least within the last five (5) years.

NOTE: Course requirements may be met with post-baccalaureate courses from an accredited college or university, but professional experience may not be counted until all academic requirements for certification are met.

Ecologist

  • Successful completion of a master’s or higher degree in ecology or a related science from an accredited college or university and at least two (2) years of full-time equivalent professional experience* after degree;
  • OR at least five (5) years of professional experience* in addition to the education requirement for Associate Ecologist;
  • AND in addition to the experience required for Associate Ecologist, demonstration of ability to perform professional work in ecology such as independent studies, complex data analyses, and formulation and testing of hypotheses must follow completion of the education requirement for qualification at the Ecologist level.  Relevant experience should have been gained at least within the last five (5) years.

Senior Ecologist

  • Successful completion of a doctoral degree in ecology or a related science from an accredited college or university, and at least five (5) years of full-time equivalent professional experience* after degree,
  • OR at least ten (10) years of professional experience* after completion of the minimum education requirements for certification (qualifying bachelor’s degree or completion of required coursework in post-baccalaureate courses).
  • Additional experience necessary to qualify at this level includes:
    • Demonstration, in work output, of thorough knowledge of the literature and scientific principles and theories of ecology;
    • Demonstration of written original contributions or original interpretation of ecological information; and
    • Demonstration of technical or organizational competence as evidenced by supervision of projects.

Experience must follow completion of the degree level used to qualify for Ecologist.  Relevant experience should have been gained at least within the last five (5) years. NOTE: An applicant who does not qualify under the above criteria may submit a statement to the Board of Professional Certification explaining why and how the intent of the education and experience requirements is satisfied.

Documentation Required for Application Process

The Application System will not allow you to save your work and return later to finish completing the form. Please gather all of the required documentation needed for the certification process listed below in the table. 

NEW CERTIFICATION*

UPGRADE

RECERTIFICATION

STREAMLINED

Cover Letter

X

X

X

X

Curriculum Vitae (attachment)

X

X

X

2 Letters of Recommendation

X

X

2 References (one has to be an ESA member)

X

X

X

Transcript(s) (attachment)

X

X

Required Hours of Classes

X

Graduation and Degree Date(s)

X

X

Professional Experience and Publications

X

X

Curriculum Vitae and Professional Activity

X

*New Certification Application Will Need: Ecological Sciences 9 credits, Biological Sciences 21 credits, Chemistry, Physical Science, and Mathematics 12 credits.

New Certification

  • Cover Letter
  • 2 Letters of Recommendation
  • 2 References (one has to be an ESA member)
  • Transcript(s) (attachment)
  • Curriculum Vitae (attachment)
  • Ecological Sciences 9 credits, Biological Sciences 21 credits and Chemistry, Physical Science, Mathematics 12 credits
  • Degree name(s) and date(s) conferred
  • Professional Experience and Publications

Upgrade

  • Cover Letter
  • 2 Letters of Recommendation
  • 2 References (one has to be an ESA member)
  • Transcript(s) (attachment)
  • Curriculum Vitae (attachment)
  • Degree name(s) and date(s) conferred
  • Professional Experience and Publications

Recertification

  • Cover Letter
  • Curriculum Vitae (attachment)
  • Professional Experience and Publications
  • 2 References (one has to be an ESA member)

Streamlined

  • Cover Letter
  • Curriculum Vitae

* Time spent in graduate school beyond the degree being used for the level of certification sought counts as half-time experience. Length of experience will be evaluated only up to the application deadline (February 1).