Aspiring professionals with a passion for wildlife and the environment might find a career path in conservation to provide a suitable home for their interests, skills, and expertise. Careers in conservation are especially appropriate for those who enjoy research and fieldwork in the ecological and biological sciences. Some careers also involve combining a background in scientific research with business and administrative expertise. Roles in conservation include environmental consultants, project coordinators, public educators, research technicians, and academic researchers.
Conservationists may also attain roles in government agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Wildlife Conservation Society alongside of NGOs that include Birdlife International and the World Wildlife Fund. Advanced degrees in the biological sciences provide conservationists with extensive backgrounds in scientific methodologies necessary to better understand and resolve issues in the natural world, well-preparing them for careers in conservation-based professions.
Roles in conservation may require the skills and experience pertaining to:
- Conducting field observations and collecting samples of flora and fauna for lab testing
- Communicating with lab collaborators, clients, and subcontractors
- Using lab equipment to interpret data and prepare reports
- Examining the relationship between changes in the use of natural resources and their impact on environmental factors and making recommendations to business clients, government agencies, and the public accordingly
- Extensive background in the biological sciences alongside of ecology, chemistry, and geography
Annual salaries for conservation-based careers vary according to roles, credentials, and experience. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that conservation scientists and foresters earned an average salary of $60,970 in 2017 with an estimated job growth rate of six percent through 2026, which is an average growth rate in the field. Employers seek conservationists in a range of roles who are organized and efficient with research expertise relevant to their fields of interest, along with a passion for matters of environmental concern and a willingness to work in a hands-on environment.
Professional Associations for Conservationists:
- National Association of Environmental Professionals
- Ecological Society of America
- Society for Conservation Biology
- American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists
- The Institution of Environmental Sciences
Job Boards for Environmental Professionals:
- Conservation Job Board: This regularly updated job board specializes in employment opportunities for conversation professionals.
- Wildlife Conservation Society: Platform features job opportunities listed with the WCS.
- Society for Conservation Biology: This job database lists employment opportunities according to disciplinary expertise.
- The Wildlife Society: Features jobs in wildlife science.