If the environment and nature are your passion and you’ve a great interest in wanting to maintain and conserve them, then jobs in conservation are right up your street. In terms of conservation jobs, you will find a variety of roles for example as a nature conservation officer, conservation technician, biodiversity officer or sustainable development officer. Your work will involve protecting, managing and enhancing the local environment whether woodland, coastal areas, moorland, mountains or rivers. Depending on the area, you might also be involved in marine habitats. Part of the role is to encourage people to use the countryside at the same time as promoting an awareness and respect of the natural environment. You will be involved in preparing and implementing ecological surveys and management plans as well as developing policies which may have local and national impact on the environment.
Jobs in conservation attract a lot of interest and competition is keen, with graduates being preferred. Relevant degree subjects should be related to environmental, life and urban and land studies such as biosciences, sustainable development, ecology or land and estate management. With entry into this profession being very competitive, it’s essential for candidates to gain a decent amount of work experience as well as the necessary qualifications. If you haven’t got a relevant undergraduate degree in this area, obtaining a relevant postgraduate qualification is advised before applying for conservation jobs at entry-level. The only way to enter the profession without a degree is to build up a substantial amount of work experience. Relevant work experience opportunities can often be found with charities and trusts who may offer working holiday and volunteering opportunities for students and graduates. Any experience in conservation, planning, management or education will be invaluable in gaining a conservation job. National and international working holidays or residential camps, where tuition in a range of skills is provided, alongside experience in practical conservation are great opportunities to obtain this experience.
As well as a wealth of experience and qualifications, it is important to have other skills such as good administrative and IT skills and to be organised and self motivated. You will need to be able to communicate effectively through talks and presentations as working with the public and stake-holders is a key feature of the job. At entry-level, work in conservation can be rough and demanding, often outdoors in all weathers combined with a large amount of administration, statistical analysis and report writing. Work may involve irregular and unsocial hours, such as early starts and evening meetings, or working weekends and public holidays. Travelling to different sites in order to supervise conservation activities is common.
If you progress to more senior roles such as senior conservation officer or project manager positions, you are likely to focus more on office-based duties that revolve around policy development, control of financial budgets and managerial tasks, rather than hands-on field work. There are a huge number of organisations that offer roles in conservation work looking at the subject from different angles. These include local authorities and governmental departments, utility companies, consultancies, housing developers, nature reserves, national or country parks, private estates and engineering companies (particularly those concerned road and infrastructure building) and other commercial organisations. If you have the passion for this topic then there are great rewards to be gained from a career in conservation.