Sue Searle | MCIEEM | Principal Ecologist at Ecology Training UK Ltd

Welcome to the second in a new series by Ecology Jobs where we uncover what it’s like to work ‘Inside The Industry’. These are a growing series of short interviews with professionals working inside the Ecological Consultancy sector. Today we’re speaking with Sue Searle BSc, PGDip, MCIEEM, Principal Ecologist and Senior Tutor at Ecology Training UK Ltd.

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Why do you work as an ecologist?

When I was a child I loved all wildlife and plants. I have always particularly loved mammals, insects and reptiles. I had miniature gardens, sticklebacks in jars, snail farms and stick insects hanging around on the windowsill of my bedroom. I loved to be outdoors exploring and never wanted to come indoors.

When I was choosing a career ecology was not an option back then (in the 1970’s) so I was directed into nursing by my family. I did this for 15 years but never felt it was really ‘me’. Being indoors all day was the worst part.

Around 40 I had a ‘midlife crisis’ and decided to retrain as an ecologist, so I went off to University to get some qualifications and the rest is history! At that stage I had already become heavily involved for a few years with the wildlife trust, WWF, RSPB, BTO and the local mammal group which all gave me extra knowledge and confidence to make this a career for me.

What are the main activities in your current role?

I live in Devon so I do a lot of bat work which involves going to sites to assess and survey for bats and to give advice to the owners or developers on ensuring the bats can still be retained on site. I also do some dormouse and badger work as well as botanical surveys and management plans. I have recently got into filming and really enjoy making short films or video-based courses which involve me going out and about into nature, so I am in heaven!

Most of my time now is spent teaching others to become ecologists and I really enjoy sharing my skills and knowledge with others and watching their careers take off. I have trained thousands of people over the last 10 or so years. I also enjoy giving career advice to help people get on the ecology career ladder. My company specialises in ecology training – both field courses and online courses that are relevant to ecology and conservation as a career.

What is it like to work for your organisation?

Well I own the company so I can make the role whatever I like really and I am constantly exploring new opportunities such as filming and creating online courses. I am also very flexible with my time so I can get out and about as much as I like.

What careers advice would you give someone wishing to follow in your footsteps?

I am going to say read my book ‘How to become an Ecological Consultant 3rd Edition’ as all the necessary career steps are in there.

My top tips are:

  1. Get skills and knowledge that are relevant to what you want to do through courses, volunteering or paid work.
  2. Get involved with groups such as you local bat, mammal, bird, botany groups and get to know people. They are usually happy to share knowledge and tips and recommend you when opportunities arise.
  3. Keep your goal clearly in your mind and never let go of it. Do something towards it EVERY DAY and you cannot fail.

Find out more about Ecology Training UK here.

Ecology Jobs | Inside the industry