Nature conservation officer: job description
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.
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