The world is in dire need of more conservationists. Is it a well paid profession? No. Is it difficult to get paid work? Yes. Are those working in conservation or ecology some of the most experienced, highly qualified workforce out there? Yes. If you're reading this and you still get a little thrill of excitement imagining yourself working in conservation, then keep reading! This article is for you.
What does a Conservationist do?
Conservation is a vast field that encompasses many different disciplines and types of work. A conservationist can find themselves working alone, in a small team or a vast network of other conservationists. The one key denominator is that a conservationist can expect plenty of outdoor work during their careers, perfect if you like the outdoors. This can mean remote locations with limited contact to people, so be prepared for spending time in your own company. While we do need more investment in conservation, environmental preservation and ecology, it is an industry with slow growth and high competition. One of the reasons that the competition is so high is that the average worker in conservation is a highly educated individual with knowledge in biological processes, anatomy of different species, deep knowledge of ecosystems and also IT such as Geographic Information Systems.
Even with such a high entry level, conservation work will appeal to those who have an interest in wildlife, enjoy nature and educating others about nature. It is a naturally educational field as much of conservation work is communicating the facts and figures to those who have very little or limited experience with the environment. This includes anyone from children to policy makers.
One other thing that keeps the entry level for conservation work so high is that a qualification is not enough. You are expected to have experience as well. Many students that complete degrees in Environmental Science or related fields find themselves stuck without a job after their studies and this can be disheartening for them. The key is being proactive at whatever stage you are at with conservation. Are you a student? Get involved in projects throughout your studies or offer to help other conservationists with research. Are you able to get involved in any clubs, societies or trusts in your local area? If there are no projects where you live, then start something up. Wildlife and our environment are in crisis all around the world, there will be something you can do to rack up experience, and with 92% of conservationists saying it's become much tougher to get a job in the last decade, you need all the help you can get.
You would think that work with long hours, difficult conditions and limited human contact would be recompensed financially, but this is not the case. However, conservationists are not in their fields for the money, but for the preservation of the environment.
And how exactly can you get work in this difficult field?
- Get familiar with current jobs available
- Use websites to help you learn the sort of things people are looking for in roles and skills. This will help you work out what skills you need to develop.
- Grab every opportunity you can
- Blog about your experiences and about nature
- Say yes! Attend events, meetings and workshops
- Ask people you know for help in introductions and with networking
- Be pleasant – Reputation is very important in this field
- Experience is king – while you study, volunteer!
- You can volunteer for a charity you want to work for or in a role you are interested in
- Do not stop learning. A survey done on ecologists and conservationists found that 95% were educated to at least undergraduate level and 60% of those hold at least post-graduate level qualifications.