Many graduates begin their careers as volunteers, and move into paid employment once they have gained a significant amount of experience.
Typical job responsibilities include:
- managing conservation awareness events such as talks, workshops and guided walks
- helping with volunteer activities and conservation projects
- Developing and implementing policies geared towards sustainable development
- increasing awareness of conservation in the community (eg in schools)
- general administration
- monitoring biodiversity
- preparing conservation reports, plans, publicity materials and displays
- general maintenance projects
- developing visitor attractions
- wildlife observation
- species surveys
- producing applications for funding
Responding to enquiries from and working with the public is a key feature of the job.
- The National Trust
- Local authorities
- Wildlife trusts
- Government organisations
- Conservation groups such as The Conservation Volunteers (TCV)
You can find vacancies online via websites such as Countryside Jobs Link and Countryside Jobs Service. You could also take a look at publications such as New Scientist and Nature – and their respective websites. Some jobs receive little advertising, so networking, job shadowing and speculative applications are advisable.
You normally need a degree in order to become a nature conservation officer. The only way to enter the profession without a degree is to build up a substantial amount of work experience.
While graduates from any degree discipline can become nature conservation officers, an appropriate degree gained in a subject such as biology, zoology, geography, botanical or plant sciences, or environmental sciences is useful. Postgraduate qualifications can also be helpful – particularly for graduates without a relevant degree. However, relevant work experience is often more important than qualifications, and many employees consider it to be a necessity. The National Trust, National Trust for Scotland and The Conservation Volunteer offer volunteering opportunities.
- Computer literacy
- Organised and self motivated
- Some understanding of geographical information systems (GIS)
- Excellent interpersonal and communication skills
- A level of physical fitness