Nature conservation officer: job description

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

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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
  • 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
  • fieldwork
  • 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.

Typical employers of conservation officers

  • Charities
  • 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.

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 Volunteer offer volunteering opportunities.

Key skills for conservation officers

  • Computer literacy
  • Organised and self motivated
  • Some understanding of geographical information systems (GIS)
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills
  • Persistence
  • Commitment
  • A level of physical fitness

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