Job type


£18k - £35k

Typical salary

38 – 40

Hours per week

Ornithologists study the behaviour, ecology, classification and conservation of birds and their habitats.

More info

  • Work to monitor and conserve bird species and their habitats
  • You'll combine outdoor work, sometimes in remote places, with data recording, analysis and report writing
  • You may need to live on your reserve and will work long hours during key times during the season

As an ornithologist, you could be involved in fieldwork and research conservation and habitat management, consultancy, education, or campaigning and policy development.


  • Conducting surveys
  • Monitoring bird species
  • Tracking bird movements
  • Collecting, analysing and evaluating data
  • Preparing reports, management plans and presentations


Your working environment may be outdoors in all weathers and you'll travel often. You could also work as an ecologist ranger, warden or countryside officer at a nature reserve, ringing station or observatory.

You'll need

To be an ornithologist, you'll need knowledge of biology and maths, excellent verbal communication skills, the ability to work well with others, science skills, the ability to read English, thoroughness and attention to detail, and excellent written communication skills.

Most ornithologists have a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in a relevant subject like biology, ecology, environmental science, or zoology. For some jobs, you may need a postgraduate qualification.

Relevant experience is increasingly important; you could volunteer or be a seasonal warden with organisations like the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the British Trust for Ornithology.

To become a bird warden, you'll need a British Trust for Ornithology ringing permit and experience as a birdwatcher.


With experience you might become a supervisor, lead researcher or warden in charge of a reserve or team of conservationists.