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.

Nick Askew
Founder & Director
Conservation Careers

Do you dream about a career in conservation but you’re unsure where to start?

You probably already know that conservation jobs are highly competitive, but you might not know just how big and diverse the conservation sector is. Or how fast it’s expanding and diversifying.

Find the right career niche for you and you’ll be much more competitive in the job market and stand a far better chance of finding meaningful, impactful work.

That’s why at Conservation Careers, we’ve put together the 15 Key Conservation Jobs:Ultimate Guide for Conservation Job Seekers, based on over 19,000 conservation jobs and interviews with over 400 professional conservationists.

In the third instalment of this three-part series, we’re exploring five more conservation job types to help you understand where you might fit in and kick-start your career journey.

Marine Conservation Jobs | Protecting the blue planet

Marine conservation jobs are popular and rewarding. Credit: Ocean wildly.

As conservation on dry land is maturing, there has been an explosion in jobs within the marine environment within recent years. It’s a diverse area of work and requires all the skillsets of those across the industry as a whole.

Marine Conservation roles are diverse and growing and early career roles include Marine Support Officer, Marine Assistant and Assistant Marine Ecologist, often involving:

·      Working on marine ecologymarine protected area or biodiversity assessment and management.

·      Literature reviews and data collation from existing sources.

·      Species identification both on surveys and from underwater video and still photographs (underwater surveys).

·      Planning and participating in marine surveys, inshore and offshore.

·      Analysing marine ecology data sets and presenting results.

“Marine conservation is an exciting area and still being developed. It faces growing global challenges, however you just have to find your niche and work on that area. There is always an opportunity for you to explore something new.
“As with all areas of conservation, you need to work effectively with other people [and] maintain a comfortable and healthy network of professionals… Linking your profession to other skills such as communication and negotiation skills can also be very valuable”, says Joan Kawaka –Marine Research Scientist working with CORDIO East Africa.

Photography and Film-making Conservation Jobs| Storytelling for change

Dr Paul Stewart, the cameraman behind Planet Earth II’s BAFTA winning snake-iguana sequence.

If you have a passion and talent for photography or film making, you might be excited to learn that there is a growing opportunity for freelance and self-employed Photographers, Photo-journalists, Film-makers, Editors and Producers.

Photography and filmmaking conservation jobs might involve:

·      Taking high quality photos and video footage.

·      Researching, scriptwriting, and editing video and photo stories.

·      Maintaining a show reel of work for future clients.

·      Promoting your work through social media, YouTube, etc.

The BAFTA-award winning cameraman behind Planet Earth II, Dr Paul Stewart, says,

“As an industry it’s expanding. More channels, more avenues… Wildlife appreciation is a universal language and the world is a big market It’s not very hard to get going”.
“You can start your own company, make your own films or produce your own beautiful time-lapses and drone footage. That impresses people enough to get opportunities. Other people work in kit hire-houses, understanding the equipment, before somebody will give them a chance to take that kit out themselves”.

Policy & Advocacy Conservation Jobs | Saving wildlife through law

Dr Colman O’Criodain, Wildlife Trade Specialist at WWF.

 Would you like to make a huge, global difference for wildlife conservation efforts through a small change to legislation? You could join a growing group of conservation policy and advocacy professionals who build sound policies and lobby for them to be implemented and enforced. 

Policy & Advocacy conservation job titles include Policy Advisor, Policy and Advocacy Officer, Campaigns and Policy Assistant and can involve duties such as:

·      Identifying and develop key policy issues for the conservation organisations.

·      Drafting position papers, policy briefings and reports and communicate results.

·      Participating in related policy fora.

“Gain as much experience as possible and think outside the box as to what good experience can be. For example, I had no idea that working for the local authorities would give me so much experience that would be relevant to conservation policy in general,” said Brendan Costelloe – Senior Policy Officer at the RSPB.

Programme & Project Management Conservation Jobs | Saving the world one project at a time

Julie Brown –National Geographic Project Manager.

Have you picked up great transferrable or soft skills – perhaps even from outside conservation? – like organisation, teamwork, managing and coordinating? You might be surprised by how valuable those skills are in programme & project management – a BIG sector of conservation jobs.

Early career job titles in Programme & Project Management include Project Officer, Project Assistant, Programme Officer and Programme Assistant, Project Manager and Programme Manager, and often involve:

·      Coordinating project activities to deliver on budget and to time.

·      Organising and running workshops and meetings, including budgets, travel, accommodation and other meeting requirements.

·      Supporting the Monitoring and Evaluation work of projects.

·      Managing communications for the projects (email-lists, newsletters, social media, donor reports etc.)

If this type of conservation job excites you, Julie Brown, National Geographic Project Manager recommends,

“Find mentors: Find someone at the same career point as you. Find somebody that’s where you want to be in 2-3 years. Find somebody that’s where you want to be in 5 years”.

Science & Research Conservation Jobs | Answering the key questions to tackle biodiversity loss

Dr James Borrell, Conservation Scientist.

Would you like to make discoveries to help species, habitats and sites around the globe? Do you enjoy learning and taking a logical, methodical and rigorous approach to work? You might want to consider a career in science and research.

Offering one of the clearest career paths within conservation sector, Science and Research conservation jobs underpin and informs conservation interventions across the globe.

Typical early-career job titles in this area include Field Assistant, Research Assistant and Science Officer, and they cover the following duties:

·      Undertaking scientific research (including desk, lab and fieldwork).

·      Literature reviews of available research.

·      Analysis of data.

·      Managing time and budgets.

·      Communicating results to a range of audiences.

“When I was studying marine biology people told me, ‘You shouldn’t do that; there are no jobs. And that’s absolute nonsense. When you reflect on all of the things that still need to be done to protect ecosystems, there are jobs for everybody for a long time to come”, said Professor Peter Mumby, University of Queensland.
“If you choose to do a PhD, then choose your supervisor and the research group very carefully. I didn’t see my supervisor that much, but he managed to attract a great group of scientists around him, and they provided huge amounts of support and fun during my studies. Pick a research group which is exciting and vibrant, as well as a good supervisor”, says Professor Andrew Balmford – University of Cambridge, UK.

Find Out More

Haven’t found your dream job yet?
Check out Part 1 for Animal Welfare, Communications &Marketing, Community-based Conservation, Countryside Management and Ecotourism conservation jobs and Part 2 for Ecological Consultancy, EnvironmentalEconomics, Environmental Education, Fundraising & Development, and Mapping & GIS.
You can also read the full guide 15 KeyConservation Jobs| Ultimate Guide for Conservation Job Seekers.

Related stories



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.



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.

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