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Ten of the best career paths for modern day conservationists

Posted: October 27, 2021

The images in this article were taken pre-COVID-19.

Looking for a job is no easy task, and a career in conservation is arguably one of the toughest to land. 

While a passion for safeguarding the environment is good grounds to start on, it can be difficult to figure out the exact line of work you want to pursue, or how to enter the industry.

So we’ve listed some options to help you begin a career in conservation.

1) Become a field guide

Field guides are wildlife experts. They’re all about guiding people through natural environments and helping them to understand the ethical practices that should be applied there.

 

 

Starting a career in conservation by completing a field guide internship is a great way to transform theory into practice under the guidance of experts in the field. 

You could sign up for a Field Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) Field Guiding and Conservation Careers internship and find out all you need to know about working in conservation. 

There’s even the opportunity to enrol as a safari field guide intern, or sharpen your research skills by interning in wildlife conservation and research.

Your days will be spent in the African bushveld, and at night, you’ll get to enjoy sitting around a campfire under the stars – not a bad way to spend a summer or two, right? 

2) Manage volunteer holidays

 

Speaking of summer, have you ever thought about chasing sunny days all year round? A career in conservation could be about organising volunteer work and free-time trips for those volunteering abroad. 

You could manage volunteer projects that involve working with elephants in Thailand, working towards marine conservation goals in Mexico, or assisting with ethical safaris in South Africa.

 3) Make wildlife conservation your day job

 

Working for national parks is a fantastic way to spend time in nature, while contributing to its preservation.

Wildlife conservationists work with animals, big and small. You may be monitoring animals to collect data for conservation records – which helps to improve our understanding of wildlife. You could also find yourself caring for animals, ensuring their health and well-being on a day-to-day basis. 

And, because animals can inhabit lots of different environments, a job in wildlife conservation can take you all over the world.

4) Marine conservation

 

The world’s oceans benefit greatly from marine conservationists, with more and more sea animals coming under threat from challenges like pollution,the unrestricted development of coastlines, and unsustainable fishing practices. 

Diving into marine conservation could mean surveying coral reefs in Fiji, assisting turtle hatchlings taking to the sea in Greece, or identifying fish for marine conservation records in Seychelles

5) Engaging in ecology

 

If you’re fascinated by the research that goes into conservation work, then a job in ecology may be just what you’re looking for. 

Ecology is all about studying plants, animals and their environments, and understanding how they work together. It’s easy to see how this is a key part of any type of conservation!

Work environments are diverse and could include setting up cheetah-monitoring devices in a wildlife conservation park in South Africa, or diving to survey coral reefs in Mexico.

6) Work directly with animals

 

While conservation jobs give you the chance to work with animals every now and again, working towards animal care is one way that you can work with animals every day. 

Working with elephants in Thailand is an interesting way to make a positive impact in the field of animal care. Many Thai elephants have been reintegrated back into their natural environments and ways of life.

These semi-wild animals are monitored and cared for, with help from community members, to ensure they are comfortably reorientated to life in the wild. 

Skilled professionals, who ensure animals stay within their natural environments and have the best chance at survival, are at the heart of this line of conservation work. 

7) Climate awareness educator

 

All life on Earth is affected by climate change. In order to safeguard natural environments and animals, we need to have more climate awareness. 

It can be difficult to grasp climate concerns, let alone know how to contribute in a positive way. But in recent years, more opportunities to do work that focuses on climate awareness have become available.

Global public health projects focus on assisting communities in understanding how healthy environments promote human health, and how humans affect the environments they live in. This may mean hosting community workshops in India, or conducting research to support educational initiatives in Cambodia.

8) Environmental disaster responder

 

Responding to on-the-ground needs after a natural disaster is essential to ensure the well-being of communities.

As a responder to environmental disasters, the contribution you make could be the difference between life and death for community members.

This line of work requires flexibility and the desire to take on short-term positions that are incredibly impactful. 

Projects that focus on community development all year round can address the long-term effects of natural disasters.

 

 

For example, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal, in 2015, shook the ground between Kathmandu and Pokhara, destroying infrastructure and impeding access to natural resources such as water. 

Community development projects in Nepal include women’s empowerment opportunities that assist women in improving their employability, and success in the future.

9) Water conservation

Original image: by Marlon Ferrer from Pixabay is licenced under CC BY-SA 2.0

 

With many natural disasters caused by water shortages, history has shown us that we are at the mercy of our water supplies. 

Since all aspects of life rely on water – wildlife conservation, marine conservation and even public health – it’s only logical to keep water conservation at the core of every career working towards an improved world. 

We need skilled professionals managing our water reserves just as much as we need the water itself.

 

 

There’s the hands-on construction of water receptacles – providing more communities with potable water – education around the necessity of water conservation, and the analysis of water use in order to make more informed decisions about where to use this precious resource.

You could gain experience in this field by taking part in a community development program focused on water, sanitation and hygiene in Fiji.

10) Organisational operations

Without organisational operations staff, conservation projects would fall flat. With so much going on in the world of conservation, it only makes sense to have individuals dedicated to making sure that things run smoothly. 

An island communications and social media internship in Seychelles could consolidate your marketing skills. Or, you may be more interested in community development projects that allow you to add to your communications skills in a meaningful way. Either way, you’ll get the opportunity to hone your conservation business acumen with the added benefit of being abroad.

 

 

Joining any one of these business and micro-enterprising internships is a sure way to get your foot in the door, and gain skills in organisational operations relating to conservation.

And, having experience in marketing, communications, sales and recruitment can put you ahead in the behind-the-scenes efforts to make a positive impact in the world.

Check out our wide range of award-winning internship opportunities abroad that can help you make a meaningful start towards a career in conservation.

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