Documentation Required for Application Process
This PDF includes a checklist of requirements for each level of certification, along with a detailed description of each certification level. In order to save time, you should assemble all these documents before beginning the application process online. Provided are the requirements for the ESA certification levels. Please choose the level that is appropriate to your level of education and experience.Download the checklist of required documents.
Required Documents & Information
All New Certifications
To Higher Certification Level
(Ecologist in Training, Associate Ecologist and Ecologist Only)
(Senior Ecologist and Emeritus Senior Ecologist Only)
|Curriculum Vitae (attachment)||X||X||X||X|
|2 References *One must be an ESA member; only one can be from your current organization.||X||X||X|
|2 Letters of Recommendation *One must be an ESA member. May be from references named above or other individuals.||X||X|
|Graduation and Degree Date(s)||X||X|
* A New Certification Application Needs
For questions, please contact Membership department at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 833-8773 x219.
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. ESA Code of Ethics
All candidates for the Ecologist in Training, Associate Ecologist, and Ecologist certifications must submit two (2) letters of recommendation from references. At least one reference must be an ESA member. In addition, only one of the references may be from the candidate’s home institution. Letters of recommendation should be emailed to email@example.com with a note indicating the candidate’s name.
Levels of Certification
Ecologist in Training (EiT)
- Bachelor’s degree or higher degree in ecology or a related science from an accredited college or university.
This category is 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
Associate Ecologist (AE)
- A bachelor’s 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 within the previous five (5)
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.
- 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
- In addition to the 1-year experience requirement for Associate Ecologist, candidates must also demonstrate the ability to perform professional work in ecology such as independent studies, complex data analyses, and publication of scientific journal articles, reports, or oral presentations must follow completion of the education requirement for qualification at the Ecologist level. Relevant experience should have been gained within the previous five (5) years.
Senior Ecologist (SE)
- 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 includes the following:
- 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 within the previous five (5) years.
Emeritus Senior Ecologist (ESE) [New in 2018]
The ESA now recognizes Professional Certification at the rank of Emeritus Senior Ecologist. This designation acknowledges the accomplishments and contributions to the profession by Senior Ecologists in the latter stages of their career. This is a lifetime recognition without the need to reapply for certification.
- Previously certified as a Senior Ecologist for at least 10 years, with no more than a 2-year lapse of certification and
- May no longer be employed full time.
If the Emeritus Senior Ecologist desires to depict certification on any official document, they must use the term ‘Senior Ecologist Emeritus’. This is meant as an honorary recognition and does not imply continued professional status.
Applicants who do 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.
* 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.