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Nature conservation officers manage, protect and improve areas of environmental importance through conservation work, publicity and scientific monitoring.

Many graduates begin their careers as volunteers, and move into paid employment once they have gained a significant amount of experience.

What does a Nature conservation officer do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Typical job responsibilities include:

  • managing conservation awareness events such as talks, workshops and guided walks
  • helping with volunteer activities and conservation projects
  • increasing awareness of conservation in the community
  • general administration
  • monitoring biodiversity
  • preparing conservation reports, plans, publicity materials and displays
  • fieldwork
  • general maintenance projects
  • developing visitor attractions
  • wildlife observation
  • species surveys

Working with the public is a key feature of the job.

Typical employers of conservation officers

  • Charities
  • The National Trust
  • Local authorities
  • Wildlife trusts
  • Government organisations
  • Conservation groups such as The Conservation Volunteers (TCV)

Nature conservation vacancies appear in newspapers, local authority vacancy lists and publications such as New Scientist, Nature, Opportunities, Environment Post and their respective websites. Some jobs receive little advertising, so networking, job shadowing and speculative applications are advisable.

Qualifications and training required

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 Volunteers offer working holiday and volunteering opportunities for students and graduates.

Key skills for conservation officers

  • Computer literacy
  • Organised and self motivated
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills
  • Persistence
  • Commitment

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