The emerging market for ecologists in NZ

When working in the planning and surveying space, the expectations from clients tend to be clear cut. Are you a *licensed* Cadastral Surveyor? Are you a member of the NZ Planning Institute? Often sought, necessary licenses and certifications aren’t hard qualifiers to determine to a recruiter or a client.


However, one role has shown up with increasing regularity in the land development industry – one much harder to qualify the right candidate for: ecologists. There is a high demand for these flora, fauna, and marine specialists nation-wide, working alongside planners and surveyors when undertaking land developments. It’s important that the expert analyses and opinions of ecologists are heard in this space. We all have a stake in Aotearoa’s environment, so it’s important that we get those experts in who can best determine how to minimize environmental impact, especially in the development industry.


Being an ecologist has its perks: The ability to explore your region or country, the interactions with rare or endangered species and, of course, the high demand for someone with your skillset right now. Ecologists are few and far between, and there are more job opening’s around than can be filled, which is a shame for such a diverse and varied role. It’s a great career path, with the option to be in the lab conducting tests, or out in the field finding a new home for the Otago skink, or both!


For such an appealing sounding role, the lack of ecologists in the market right now may seem confusing. Ecologists themselves know that the market is tight, especially in consultancy – but the roles aren’t getting filled. Consulting on land development tends to be a very regional job, and therein lays the problem. The roles are available, but especially for prospective candidates who are open to relocate for work. An Aucklander might be the perfect fit for a senior ecologist role down in Queenstown, checking all boxes except, of course, location. While we can’t expect someone to pack up their lives and move for a new role, it does present a fantastic opportunity for junior ecologists looking to jump onto the career ladder and work their way up.


Similarly, the demand for ecologists has presented an opportunity for specialists in a related field to make a jump over to consultancy. Herpetologists, Chiropterologists and Ornithologists all have the chance to enter a new space and can weigh in with their expert opinion on projects that directly affect New Zealand’s environment, and even actively make changes to development to protect our native species.


Recruitment in a senior space has been a challenge in a range of ‘green’ disciplines. Ecologists are no easy ask. However, supply creates its own demand, and an up-and-coming generation passionate about the climate may find the burgeoning sector rich with bright, talented candidates wanting to make a positive impact on our environment.


For recruitment advice in this space, contact Zach Martin.


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