15 Key Conservation Jobs: Part One

In the first of a three part series, our partner, Conservation Careers, takes us through some of the key jobs in the field of conservation.

Kristi Foster
Conservation Careers

Do you dream of a career in conservation but you’re not sure what conservation jobs are out there?

If you’re like many conservationists, you’ve probably pictured yourself observing mountain gorillas in Rwanda, protecting turtle hatchlings in Costa Rica or tracking lions in Tanzania. These attractive conservation jobs do exist, but the conservation sector is likely far bigger than you might imagine - and it’s expanding and diversifying fast.

 Whether aiding conservation directly, for example as a Project Officer for a marine protected area, or indirectly, for example as a Communications Manager raising the profile of an NGO,  the conservation sector needs you.

 When finding your niche is key to becoming competitive – and finding a career you love - where should you start?

 At Conservation Careers, we’ve listed over 19,000 conservation jobs with over 12,000 different job titles and spoken to over 400 professional conservationists as of 2019. From this research we’ve put together the 15 Key Conservation Jobs: Ultimate Guide for Conservation Job Seekers.

In this three-part series, we’ll walk you through each conservation job type to help you understand where you might fit in and kick-start your career journey.

Animal Welfare Conservation Jobs |Caring for animals

Animal welfare professional Eve Mansfield at work for Laos Conservation Trust for Wildlife.

 If you’re passionate about caring for animals, there are a wealth of conservation jobs at zoos and in the wild.

 Zoos, sanctuaries, aquariums and rehabilitation centres are playing an increasingly important role in conservation and education programmes.

 Zoo-based animal welfare conservation jobs include Keeper, Zoo-keeper, Breeding Officer, Animal Warden, Zoo Ranger, AnimalCare Assistant, Animal Caregiver, Wildlife Assistant and Assistant AnimalSupervisor.

 Your duties might include:

·     Animal husbandry and welfare

·     Cleaning animal areas

·     Inspecting animals regularly

·     Preparing approved diets and carrying out correct feeding procedures

·      Maintaining courteous and helpful relations with visitors

·     Assisting with animal enrichment programmes

 If being based in the field appeals to you, you might consider working as a Veterinarian (Vet).

 As a Wildlife Vet you’ll focus on keeping habitats safe for the animals and humans living there. The main part of the job is educating people living with or around wildlife on how to act if they ever encounter it and how they have to treat their environment.

 As a Zoo Vet you’ll keep the collection of animals healthy and treat zoo animals when they become ill. In many institutions you may also have the opportunity to participate in rehabilitation and reintroduction projects in the wild.

 As a Research Vet your role might involve anaesthesiology of wildlife, reproduction physiology of endangered species and aiding their breeding processes, setting markets to assess the wellbeing of populations in the wild and much more.

 “The best advice I can give anyone looking to get into the animal care field, especially if they are considering a zoo, aquarium or sanctuary, is to volunteer or intern... In my experience, these types of organisations are less impressed with academic achievements and more focused on hands-on experience.”
“If [an] organisation is already familiar with a person and appreciates the help they have already been giving, that individual will have a much better chance of landing a job with them”, said Michelle Proulx, Director of Animal Care & Educational Programs at W.O.L.F Sanctuary, Colorado, USA.

Communications & Marketing ConservationJobs | Raising the profile of conservation

Conservation Optimism’s Director Cheli Cresswell-Sinclair believes in sharing hopeful stories about conservation to inspire, educate, entertain and empower.

 In the field of communications and marketing, inspiration is influence. Names like Sir David Attenborough are testament to the power that sharing knowledge of and passion for the natural world having in inspiring people to love the natural world and influencing them to help.

 In the fast-growing area of Communications andMarketing, your role is to identify, research and develop engaging stories for different audiences across multiple formats and channels.

 It covers conservation jobs such asCommunications Officer/Specialist, Marketing Officer, Social Media Assistant,Magazine Editor, TV Assistant, Wildlife Journalist, Presenter or Blogger. Your work may be varied and creative, involving activities such as:

·     Promoting the work of employers to attract support

·     Communicating to internal and external audiences through growing range of channels – Press releases, news stories, videos, podcasts, newsletters, magazines, brochures

·     Using social media channels to grow and engage audiences.

·     Representing your organisation to a range of outside contacts such as politicians, civil society and the media

·     Developing and running campaigns

 “Communicating with one another is important. Other like-minded people are not competition, they are a support network. A career in wildlife conservation is a team sport - you have to be willing to work with others if you’re to make a difference and reach your full potential”, said Wildlife Communications Manager Lucy McRobert.

Community-based Conservation Jobs | Putting people at the heart of solutions

Dr Al Harris – CEO of Blue Ventures – who provides a pathway to helping people out of poverty through community-based conservation.

 People often enter conservation to work with animals, and then realise that conservation is all about working with people.

 Increasingly, conservation organisations are engaging in activities and projects which put local people at the heart of their work. They see them as part of the solutions that deliver benefits for people and planet.

 If you enjoy working with people and across different cultures and languages to solve problems, community-based conservation could before you.

 Typical early career job titles in this area are Community Outreach Officer and LocalEmpowerment Officer, and they include the following duties:

·      Supporting local communities to sustainably manage their species, habitats and landscapes.

·      Holding workshops, and planning community driven projects.

·      Delivering volunteer, community and people-participation projects.

·      Working within differences cultures and languages.

·      Delivering livelihood benefits through project design and implementation.

 “I have spent a lot of time reading articles, journals, books and online blogs. I feel that a good background knowledge of all conservation issues is extremely useful in my current role. As conservation is such a competitive sector and is difficult to get into, it is important to stand out”, said Blue Venture’s Jenny Maltby.

Countryside Management, Warden & RangerConservation Jobs | Saving key sites for nature

Lizzie Bruce has always loved being outdoors and is West Norfolk Assistant Warden for the Norfolk Wildlife Trust.

 Do you enjoy being outside, engaging with nature and people, working hard and getting your hands dirty? You might be interested in working on practical side of conservation - in country side management.

 There are two important aspects of managing sites: habitat, such as grassland or woodland, and visitor access, such as footpaths, signs and gates alongside the health and safety of a site.

Typical conservation job titles in this area are Assistant Warden, Assistant Ranger, Countryside Ranger, ParkRanger, Estate Worker and Reserves Officer, and their duties include:

·      Managing sites in accordance with the management plan – habitat and site work.

·      Welcoming visitors and providing a good customer experience.

·      Writing and updating the management plan.

·      Preparing, administering and controlling income and expenditure budgets for projects.

·      Working with contractors and volunteers.

“If you want to work in conservation, it is useful to have an idea of what area you want to work in. In the habitat management field, you will inevitably have to volunteer after you graduate … Scout around and be proactive in seeking out places where you can take these lead roles as a volunteer – even if the roles don’t yet exist!” said Paul Furnborough – Reserve Warden on the Hampton Nature Reserve with Frog life.

Ecotourism Conservation Jobs | Helping people experience the natural world

Ecotourism is a fast-growing branch of the tourism industry.

 Especially in high-biodiversity, high-poverty regions of the world, ecotourism has been praised as the best solution to conserving nature and improving people’s quality of life through economic development. Ecotourism can help attain these often-conflicting goals by showing people the natural world, its wildlife and its value.

 Why consider a job in ecotourism?

 First, job prospects in ecotourism are often much better than elsewhere in the highly-competitive conservation sector.

 “In 6 months applying in the conservation sector I probably only heard back from 60% of organisations and even then I didn’t have a single interview; whereas in 1 month of applying in the tourism sector I heard back from all the companies I applied to and had two interviews and two job offers”, said Audley Travel’s Chris Thompson.

Second, ecotourism can be a great way to combine your passion for nature conservation with a more entrepreneurial side, should you have one.

Engaging people with the natural world is perhaps the single most important thing to do in conservation if we are to guarantee the future and sustainability of our ecosystems. If ecotourism is something that appeals to you, it might be your way into conservation.

In an ecotourism conservation job, your duties will depend on the role you’re interested in. For example, asa Field Guide, you’ll be:

·      Conducting game drive experiences

·      Hosting guests at certain meals and other relevant times

·      Responsible for the maintenance and up keep of vehicles and equipment/assets

·      Working independently and unsupervised for majority of time…

As a Scuba Instructor, you’ll be:

·      Providing safe SCUBA tuition

·      Enforcing policies on expedition safety on site

·      Planning safe diving

·      Being responsible for maintaining SCUBA training records and equipment and maintenance schedules

·      Undertaking marine surveys

As a Sales Manager, you’ll be:

·      Responding to travel enquiries

·      Specialised in a certain region or country

·      Designing trips and itineraries

·      Scouting out new locations

As a Certification Coach, you’ll be:

·      Evaluating an ecotourism company’s practices against sustainability criteria

·      Coaching the company to help them achieve certification

·      Auditing onsite to assess whether the company meets, maintains and/or improves against sustainability criteria

Find Out More

Want to learn more about conservation jobs? Download the full guide 15 Key Conservation Jobs, read the latest ecotourism conservation career stories or browse the latest conservation jobs.

We hope you enjoyed this introduction to five of the 15 key conservation jobs! If you haven’t discovered your niche yet, or you’re curious to know what else is out there, stay tuned for Part 2 and 3. You can also check out the 15 Key Conservation Jobs: Ultimate Guide for Conservation Job-Seekers or check out the Conservation Careers website.

Related stories



15 Key Conservation Jobs: Part Three

In the third instalment of this three-part series, our partner, Conservation Careers, takes us through some of the key jobs in the field of conservation.



15 Key Conservation Jobs: Part Two

In part two of this three-part series, our partner, Conservation Careers, takes us through some of the key jobs in the field of conservation.

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