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Why Certify?

The Benefits of ESA Certification

Certification through the Ecological Society of America is a way for ecologists, at all levels of education and training, to add a credential to their resume, demonstrate their expertise, and exhibit their skill level to potential employers, clients or colleagues. The goals of the certification program are to:

  1. Establish and validate the credentials for certified ecologists.
  2. Recognize individuals whose education, training, and experience meet ESA’s certification standards.
  3. Attest that certified ecologists have met minimum education and experience requirements for their certification levels; further attest that each certified ecologist acknowledges adherence to the ESA Code of Ethics.
  4. Foster the incorporation of ecological principles in the decision-making processes for consultancies, environmental and national resource agencies, applied research labs, government agencies and NGOs, foundations, and other organizations requiring the expertise of certified ecologists.
  5. Provide public access to a directory of professional ecologists for advice and technical guidance on public policy and regulatory issues facing society.

The Case for Professional Certification

A Frontiers Editorial by the Board of Professional Certification.

(PDF )

There is an increasing nation-wide demand for certification credentials in the environmental arena. Most notably is the recent U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) call for certified professionals to act as Technical Service Providers to help farmers, ranchers, and other private landowners protect and restore resources through conservation planning. 

Besides natural resource management, ecological expertise is needed on a host of other current environmental problems including: biotechnology, ecological restoration, ozone depletion, global climate change, ecosystem management, nitrogen deposition, species extinction and loss of biological diversity, invasive species, habitat alteration and destruction, and sustainable ecological systems. This expertise is provided by ecologists in academia, government, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. However, it has been shown that only a small minority of individuals with graduate degrees find full-time employment in academic institutions.

Private environmental companies, Federal, state, and local environmental and natural resource agencies, applied research laboratories, and non-governmental organizations, including private foundations offer major employment opportunities for ecologists.

Recognizing this new direction for professional ecologists, the Ecological Society of America provides the certification program for its members, as well as nonmembers and the public who desire a statement of their professional qualifications.


    • To serve the needs of ecologists who wish to establish and validate their professional credentials.
    • To guide biologists, government agencies, courts, and the public in defining minimum standards of education and experience for professional ecologists, and to encourage all practicing ecologists to meet such standards.
    • To create and maintain public confidence in the advice and opinions of Certified Ecologists as well as educated and experienced professionals who have pledged to uphold the Code of Ethics of the Ecological Society of America and to act in the best interest of the public.
    • To assist the public in identifying ecologists by establishing a procedure for critical peer evaluation based upon defined minimum education, experience, and ethical requirements.

Get Started

Review the requirements, look through these frequently asked questions, and start to collect your materials to apply! If you have any questions, please contact