CAREER DEVELOPMENT / JUN. 23, 2014
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How to Become a Nature Conservation Officer

Nature conservation refers to all activities geared toward protecting and enhancing various environments, such as woodlands, grasslands, marine habitats, forests, mountains and rivers. If you fancy the prospect of being in a profession that allows you to protect the environment for current and future generations, it’s time you learnt what it takes to become a nature conservation officer.

What do Nature Conservation Officers do?

The duties of nature conservation officers revolve around raising awareness of natural environments and environmental issues, developing conservation policies and managing habitats. Therefore, your duties could include;

  • Collaborating with voluntary organisations to implement nature conservation action plans
  • Advising urban planners, property developers and planters on conservation matters
  • Writing grants and applications for funding to government agencies
  • Making recommendations to policy makers on conservation policies
  • Maintain documentation of a specific habitat, such as records of number of wild animals in a forest
  • Investigating conservation complaints and taking appropriate actions
  • Supervising conservation activities

Work Environment

Environmental conservation officers in entry level positions largely spend their time outdoors. They often travel to visit various conservation sites. They also often have long, irregular working hours. On the other hand, nature conservation officers in management position are largely office-based and work between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Salary

This table highlights the salaries prospective nature conservation officers can expect to earn.

Job Level

Potential Annual Wage

Beginning officers

£16,000 to £18,000

Experienced officers

£20,000 to £30,000

Conservation managers

£30,000 plus

Source: Prospects

Education and Training

To enter into this profession, you need to earn a bachelor’s degree in any of the following fields;

  • Environmental conservation
  • Conservation biology and ecology
  • Land management
  • Environmental management
  • Forestry and surveying
  • Environmental science.

Some of the best universities offering these courses include;

To obtain an admission into any of these courses, you generally need five GCSEs (A to C), with grade B and above desirable in natural sciences, such as biology, geography and chemistry.

Visit the Universities and Colleges Admission Service for more information on admission requirements.

Fresh graduates should focus on volunteering in local conservancies to gain the job experience and develop professional industry contacts. Some voluntary organisations in the UK include;

Required Skills

To be an effective nature conservation officer, you will need;

  • Good knowledge of environmental legislation and policies
  • An interest in the natural environment
  • Good research and project management skills
  • Strong presentation and report writing skills
  • Good supervising skills

Career Development

While on the job, it is important to focus on developing your skill set and improving knowledge. This is crucial to breaking into senior nature conservation positions. You can, for instance;

Employment Prospects

The top employers for nature conservation officers are;

  • National parks
  • Local authorities
  • Conservation charities
  • Conservation consultancy firms
  • Government agencies
  • Research institutes and universities

Finally, the UK economy will create about 144,000 jobs for science professionals between 2014 and 2020, according to the National Careers Service. If you wanted a job with strong employment prospects, becoming a nature conservation officer is, evidently, a perfect choice.

Let’s go green!

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