We are lucky enough to meet a vast range of students from all walks of life, and we are repeatedly asked, “Can I get into Ecological Consultancy without a degree?”. We have helped dozens of people with no degree get into consultancy, but it does require hard work, commitment and persistence. 

Can I get into ecological consultancy without a degree?

For many of us, the idea of going to or returning to university isn’t particularly appealing, possible or affordable. So, if you know what you want to do, it is natural to want to pursue that avenue directly, circumnavigating an expensive and long-winded degree. Here, we look at whether or not it is genuinely possible to get into ecology without a degree. Make sure to read to the bottom for more information on how we can help you make the first steps into your new career in ecological consultancy.

Can I get into Ecological Consultancy without a degree?

Embarking on a journey into the career of your dreams can seem daunting, especially without the comfort of a degree to back you up. Ecological consultancy is a dynamic, varied and exciting career path to follow. It is also a fast-growing sector with plenty of opportunities for career development. It is, however, undoubtedly a specialist subject, and it does take a lot of knowledge to be good at it. However, most ecology degrees will give you a solid overview of the principles of ecology without offering any practical skills or knowledge. Most ecological consultants will admit they learned more through self-study, apprenticeships and hands-on experience than a degree. So, yes, getting into ecological consultancy without a degree is entirely possible. What is far more important is having the passion, enthusiasm and perseverance to succeed – which is the same for any chosen career.

Passion and Drive

Whilst a degree may open doors, you will need more specialist skills and knowledge to find employment. The real key to entering the field of ecological consultancy is passion and drive. Your enthusiasm will be a powerful driving force if you’re genuinely interested in understanding and protecting the environment. Employers will be looking for passionate individuals who can prove they are willing to learn and participate. 


Self-learning is a critical element of success with a career in ecological consultancy. It will teach you essential skills and knowledge. Self-learning will also demonstrate to a potential employer that you have the passion and drive needed for a career in ecological consultancy.

There are many resources you can call upon to help teach yourself. Gaining demonstrable skills and experience from reputable online courses (like ours) can be a valuable use of your time to further your journey towards a career in ecological consultancy. 

Using your spare time to learn from books, online resources, blogs, and magazines will also help build your knowledge and confidence. 

Networking and Volunteering

Like in many careers, sometimes who you know is just as important as what you know. Becoming involved with local wildlife, conservation, environmental, bat, mammal, or bird groups can be a fast track to learning and making valuable connections. Organisations you might want to approach would be National Trust, Wildlife Trusts, The Conservation Volunteers (TCV), British Trust for Ornithology, RSPB and any local bat, mammal or conservation groups. Networking within the ecological sector can help give you key insights into current affairs and help you discover your passions and strengths. It may also unlock some opportunities to work with professionals in the field or even gain employment. 

If you don’t have time to volunteer, taking some online courses in your spare time may be enough to gain you some paid experience. 

Hands-on Experience

Ecology is a field that values practical experience. Consider participating in fieldwork, internships, volunteer work, hands-on courses, or projects to gain some experience. You can do this through local groups, as discussed above, or by searching job pages. Take a look at Environment Jobs or Countryside Jobs Service for opportunities. 

Hands-on experience increases your understanding of specific practices and principles. It also provides tangible evidence that you are capable, willing and committed to the job. 

Transferrable Skills

Whether you have a degree or not, it is worth highlighting any transferrable skills you have to any potential employers. Think carefully about skills you have picked up either in a previous job or in your life that could apply to your new career. These could include project management, working in teams, managing teams, IT skills and dealing with the public.  Read this blog to find out more about recognising and utilising transferable skills. 

How Can Ecology Training UK Help?

We are industry experts specialising in giving people the skills and knowledge they need to enter the workplace in ecological consultancy or conservation. At ETUK, we have helped hundreds of students bolster their skill sets. Numerous prominent organisations in the UK also use us to train their staff. We have a wide range of individual courses as well as complete training packages to help career changers. There are online and face-to-face options. 

Survey Skills

Developing survey skills is another way to make yourself more appealing to a potential employer without needing a relevant degree. The thing that is particularly valuable is species identification. Start with something you already know a little about or are interested in learning about. For example, a good knowledge of plant or bird identification will be helpful to an employer. These are skills they can easily use. Similarly, if you aim to be self-employed, you can start doing these kinds of surveys as soon as you are competent and confident in identification. Try our Beginner’s Botany or Birds for Beginners courses to give yourself a head start. 

You may also want to gain some surveying experience to help understand the methods used for the various species. Firstly you can take our Surveying for Protected Species online course. Then try and get experience by volunteering or accompanying an ecologist. This is often a valuable thing for ecologists as they are sometimes required to bring someone with them to ensure health and safety standards are met. Demonstrating good identification skills will make you more appealing for these opportunities. 

Certificates and Specialised Training

Let’s face it: a degree isn’t for everyone. But if you don’t have a degree, gaining some relevant certificates or licences can be a great way to bolster your credibility. You might even find that taking this route into ecology is quicker and more cost-effective. If you have no experience, we recommend starting with our Certificate in Conservation Management, which is aimed at giving you a solid base in conservation and fast-tracking you past a degree so that you can take our Certificate in Ecological Consultancy. This course gives you lots of industry-relevant skills and experience that you can use to impress a potential consultancy employer. If you are enterprising and confident, you can also use the skills you gain during this course to start up an ecological consultancy of your own. 

Protected Species Licences

Many employers will hire people they can put to work immediately without having to first train them. You can instantly become more employable in ecological consultancy by gaining some protected species licences. You don’t need a relevant degree to acquire these licences; you simply need the enthusiasm to go and do it. 

Gaining a Bat Licence can be a particularly effective way of standing out to a potential employer or gaining work as a self-employed ecological consultant. Anyone can get a Bat Licence, and if you’re interested, we have a range of courses from Bats Ecology and Surveying right through to Bat Licence Training and Bat Licence Revise and Assess

There are other protected species licences you can also get to help you on your way, including Great Crested Newt Licence and Dormouse Licence.

 Conclusion – Can I Get into Ecological Consultancy Without a Degree?

There are lots of ways that you can get into ecology without first gaining a degree. If you are passionate and driven enough to gain the necessary skills and experience, you can make yourself stand out. Often, graduates of ecology degrees leave with a sound knowledge of ecological principles but no skills that would be useful in ecological consultancy. More often than not, the skills are gained through personal study, community work and volunteering. There is a huge skills shortage in the sector at the moment, and many employers are 

becoming more willing to employ people without degrees as long as they can demonstrate skills, knowledge and passion!

So yes, it is possible to get into ecological consultancy without a degree. You just need to keep going and gain skills and knowledge as you go. You can do this around your existing job and, with persistence, you will get there! 

Check out our Blog on Getting Experience in Ecology