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Fees & Process Timeline

Application Process

Applications must be complete and must include all information required in this Requirements Checklist and on the application form. Incomplete applications may be rejected, or additional information may be requested of the applicant to clarify incomplete application information.

Neither applications submitted without full payment, nor late applications, will be reviewed.

Certification is valid for 5 years. After 5 years, all certified ecologists will be notified and reminded to apply for re-certification via email, so it is important to keep one’s personal information up to date.

Certification expires on June 30 of the final year of the certification (so if certification is awarded in 2021, it expires on June 30, 2026). After that date, there is a 2-year grace period to apply for re-certification or an upgrade to the next level. Please note that this is a change from previous years (1-year grace period). After the grace period expires, applicants must re-apply as if for a new certification, including providing all requisite supporting materials; applicants may still apply for an upgrade in such an instance, provided that they meet all requirements for the next level.

Please note that, beginning in 2021, all new applicants for certification will be required to complete at least 40 CEU in 5 years to meet the requirements for recertification or an upgrade. Currently certified ecologists may recertify or upgrade one time prior to 2025 under the current requirements; after that point, all recertifications or upgrades will require CEU fulfillment.

All certifications are retroactive to June 1 of the year they are reviewed and expire June 30 five years thereafter.

For more information, please visit the FAQ page.

Application Fees

Note that the fee structure has been simplified from past years, and fees reduced. 

Certification Level (new applications and upgrades) ESA Member Non-Member
Ecologist in Training (EiT) $0 $20
Associate Ecologist (AE)  $25  $50
Ecologist (CE)  $100  $200
Senior Ecologist (SE) $150 $300
Senior Ecologist Emeritus (SEE) $150  
All recertifications at all levels $25 $50

Certification Process Timeline

November The ESA certification opens for applications.
  Application Deadline: February 1, 2021.
Please note that payment must be submitted with your application or it will not be considered. Late applications will not be considered. Please note that degrees awarded and years of experience will only be counted up to the application deadline.

The Board of Professional Certification meets to review all applications. The Board will determine which applications are accepted or rejected, and which require additional information.

Applicants may be requested to submit additional information prior to this meeting; additionally, the Board may request more information or documentation from some applicants as a result of their review.

Notifications of certification status for most applicants will be sent as soon as possible following the conclusion of this meeting.

August The Board of Professional Certification will finish its final review of incomplete applications. All applicants who have not already been so will be notified of their certification status; questions regarding the results and/or appeal requests may be submitted.

CEU Implementation

All newly certified ecologists in 2021 should consider immediate pursuit of professional development opportunities to meet their needs. Please see this page for a breakdown of requirements. There are no annual requirements for CEU earned, but there are maximums placed on certain categories of activity to ensure that your professional development is broad. Note as well that units offered by ESA may contribute only up to 50% of your total units.

If you are currently certified and seeking to recertify or upgrade in 2021-2025, you are exempt from the CEU requirement; this is to allow you to adjust to the new requirements. However, any recertifications or upgrades after 2025 will require CEU.

Appeals Procedure

A decision of the Board of Professional Certification may be appealed in writing to the ESA executive director, who will initiate the appeals process through the ESA Professional Ethics and Appeals Committee. The Board of Professional Certification may be engaged in discussion of a potential appeal prior to its official submission to the PEAC.

Disciplinary Procedure

The Board of Professional Certification, with approval of the Professional Ethics and Appeals Committee, shall have the authority to censure a certification, to suspend certification for a stated period, or to revoke certification on the finding that an individual has willfully violated the Code of Ethics or misrepresented the facts at the time of certification. Such a finding may be reached by concluding that an allegation of improper deportment is true. Such an allegation may be presented to the Board in writing, by any member of the Ecological Society of America. Anonymous allegations will not be entertained. Anyone named a party to such proceeding shall be informed in a timely manner of the evidence brought forward and be given an opportunity to respond to the allegations.

The Board will forward all material to the Professional Ethics and Appeals Committee. After review of the case by the Committee and the Board, the Board will render a written decision informing the certified ecologist, the individual who initiated the allegation, and the Governing Board. Any such action of the Board may be appealed to the Governing Board, whose decision will be final.