Conservation Careers | Highlights from 2020

Looking back, we can hardly believe what happened in 2020. This time last year all was ‘normal’ and here we are in a world filled with face-masks, hand sanitiser and travel restrictions.

Nevertheless, 2020 hasn’t slowed us down. In fact, seeing how governments worldwide can enact change quickly, at a global scale, to tackle an immense threat, has renewed our hope for the future of conservation.

Topics like climate change, biodiversity loss and diversity and inclusion – while initially lost amidst responses to the global pandemic – are now rapidly rising, stronger than ever, in global public dialogue.

COVID-19 has forced us all to pause, rethink and adapt, to emerge better and stronger. We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished, and the inspiring partners, collaborators and wider community we work with.

As we look ahead to a new and brighter year, we wanted to reflect on what we’ve learnt and accomplished during the past year at Conservation Careers… and where we’re headed as we enter a new year. Here are some highlights…

COVID-19 | Lessons from conservationists and employers

Credit: Niall McCall.

In March 2020, the global COVID-19 pandemic froze international travel, halted recruitment and sent the conservation industry into a sudden standstill.

We surveyed conservationists and conservation employers to understand how COVID-19 has uniquely impacted the conservation industry.

In April 2020, we published the results of a survey of 330 conservationists on Conservation Careers and Mongabay, showing that 80% had been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, while nine in 10 conservation employers were affected.

Conservation Careers Blogger Kath Retourne reviewed how COVID-19 began changing the face of African conservation, and how illegal trade has come under scrutiny.

In August 2020, conservation career opportunities worldwide had doubled, and a new survey of conservationists and employers showed that – while the majority were still struggling – some were coping, or even thriving in uncertainty.

Conservation Jobs and COVID-19 | Start of the Green Recovery? shows why conservationists with a ‘niche’ stand a better chance of career success and how organisations and employees alike can innovate to enhance their careers – and wildlife.

By December 2020, conservation jobs and opportunities are at pre-COVID levels, and new opportunities have been created as a result of the pandemic and public dialogue. These include sustainability jobs focussed on improving organisations sustainability management – including big players like Netflix, Amazon and Facebook. They also include more jobs and internships focussed on diversity and inclusion in conservation.

At Conservation Careers, the global pandemic hit right as we were preparing to deliver our Conservation Career Kick-Starter UK workshops. We were devastated to cancel this special in-person event, but we can’t wait to host our 2021 UK workshop!

Conservation Career Kick-Starter | Reaching 1,000+ kick stars

Kickter course attendees

This year, we piloted our flagship course, the Conservation Career Kick-Starter, at 40 universities worldwide. As a result, we’ve formally partnered with the University of Exeter to give their conservation degree and master’s students a head start in the industry.

“This is an absolutely unmissable opportunity in my book if you have any career aspirations whatsoever: academic, conservation, consultancy, general graduate market. The process of self-reflection as part of the course will deeply empower you going forward, no matter what path – it will be a fruitful one” – Professor Brendan Godley, Chair in Conservation Science, Centre for Ecology and Conservation (CEC), University of Exeter.
As of this year, over 1,000 kick stars (our inspiring students!) have enrolled in the Conservation Career Kick Starter in both English and Spanish, and it has a 98.9% satisfaction and 99.3% recommendation rating.

Communications for Conservation Projects | Career-boosting course

The great Sir David Attenborough recently said that “Saving the planet is now a communications challenge” and we couldn’t agree more.

At Conservation Careers we analysed 29,767 conservation jobs, from over 100 countries, and 41% explicitly wanted people with communications skills or experience.

We discovered that when hiring early-career conservationists, communications skills are highly sought-after by employers in the sector.

As a result, we developed and launched a new career-boosting course, ‘Communications for Conservation Projects’.

The course teaches students how to:

  • Produce a communications plan for conservation projects.
  • How to write engaging copy about conservation projects.
  • Get press and media coverage for conservation projects.
  • Build and engage audiences on social media for conservation projects.
  • Create content to support conservation campaigns.
  • Measure the success of your communications activities.

The course is led by Lloyd Gofton, who has 20 years of top-level communications experience, and a deep commitment to wildlife conservation. We’re currently working with the first cohort, to support them through the course. We’ll seek to run it again in 2021.

Conservation Career Switch Accelerator | Communications & Marketing

Have you ever imagined what it would be like if career switchers could accelerate their career switch into conservation, through step-by-step guidance and having their experience formally accredited? We have!

Of the 29,767 conservation jobs from over 100 countries we analysed, 41% explicitly wanted people with communications skills or experience. Of these, 2,726 were communications specialist roles like Communications and Marketing Managers.

After discovering this, we teamed up with the MacArthur Institute to jointly develop a brand new Conservation Career Switch Accelerator | Communications & Marketing.

The Accelerator is a 6-month programme designed for individuals who are working in a marketing or communications role in an entirely different industry. Step-by-step it helps professionals:

  • Find your passions, capabilities, strengths, limitations.
  • Get your valuable experience analysed and proven by senior communication experts into an associate degree, bachelor or even master level
  • Secure an Associate Degree, Bachelor or Master level (dependent upon experience) in Communications and Marketing with a special focus on conservation.
  • Find the focal job-roles and organisations that fit your passions, capabilities and options.
  • Optional: we’ll work with you to secure an internship within a conservation organisation to get hands-on experience within the sector.

Join our Virtual Information Event on Monday 11th January 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm UK time to learn more!

Switching careers into conservation | Jobs for switchers

Today, one-third of Conservation Careers Academy members are career switchers – professionals (and graduates) who are switching careers into conservation from different job sectors.Many career switchers worry that it’s too late to change careers. They worry that they’ll have to retrain only to compete with recent graduates, or that their skills won’t be recognised.They wonder, Are there actually opportunities for career switchers in conservation? Is it worth it?To find out, we monitored conservation jobs worldwide for two weeks to give a snapshot of the opportunities for career switchers, and we were blown away by the results.

Our Ultimate Guide, Switching careers into conservation | A snapshot of jobs shows that there are more conservation jobs available for career switchers than you’ve probably imagined, and career switcher skills are in demand.

We found so many jobs which didn’t require a background or training in conservation, that we’ve started a new ‘Career Switcher’ job category on our Jobs Board, site to make them easier to find. We’re actively curating new jobs for switchers every day!


While we love searching out the best jobs and creating resources, we also love getting to know and interact with YOU, the conservationists we’re here to support! We’ve enjoyed running monthly live events where we delve more in-depth into popular topics and answer your most pressing questions.

Check out this year’s webinar recordings:

Explore all of our webinars!

Conservation Careers Podcast

Credit: Juan Pablo Moreiras/FFI.

The Conservation Careers Podcast is almost three years old and it’s really gained popularity this year with interviews like:

We’ll be finishing off 2020 with a podcast episode interviewing Colin Speedie of Save Our Seas Foundation.

Explore all our podcast episodes!

Nick Askew from CC also guested on What Does the Giraffe Say Media, The Case for Conservation Podcast, Human Nature Podcast, The Guide to Mindful Conservation: Dancing in Pink Hiking Boots.

Ultimate guides | In-depth resources for conservationists

Does it feel overwhelming trying to understand and navigate the conservation sector? We hear some questions come up over and over again, like ‘How do I switch careers into conservation?’, or ‘How do I start a career in marine conservation?’.

This year we published new ultimate guides that distil all of our experience and the advice from professional conservationists into question-by-question guides to help fast-track your career.

Explore all our Ultimate Guides!

Top Conservation Training Opportunities


At Conservation Careers we’re on a mission to help conservationists find the best training opportunities to launch or boost their careers. That’s why we shared the Top Conservation Training Opportunities worldwide, based on transparent reviews from current and past students.

The list of Top Conservation Training Opportunities is drawn from over 1,400 conservation training opportunities across the globe that we’ve listed on our Conservation Training Board. It includes everything from short online courses to multi-year masters programmes.

Top Conservation Scholarships

We believe all conservationists should be able to pursue the best training opportunities, have the best experiences, conduct meaningful research and lead impactful conservation projects to boost their careers and ultimately help wildlife thrive.

But we know that, especially early in your career, money can be a big barrier, and sometimes even prevent talented conservationists from pursuing and growing their careers. That’s why we’ve reviewed some of the top conservation scholarships around the world.

Whether your next career step is training, research, an experience or a project, this list of Top Conservation Scholarships could help you make it a reality.

Celebrating Diversity in Conservation

At Conservation Careers, we believe biodiversity needs diversity. We urgently need more perspectives, voices, ideas and expertise to create a world in which wildlife thrives.

Celebrating Diversity in Conservation is a new initiative to share careers advice from professional conservationists from every corner of the planet. Our ultimate goal is to showcase conservationists from each and every country worldwide!

To date, we’ve shared stories from 30 countries and territories. If you know a professional conservationists from an underrepresented country or region, let us know!

We also collaborated with The Bio-Diverse Festival & Conservation Optimism Twitter Conference and Tony Wild to share positive and optimistic conservation stories and research from minority and underrepresented conservationists.

Careers Advice Blog

We’ve published a staggering 60+ news stories, industry insights and interviews on our Conservation Careers Blog this year. Over 50 of these are interviews with professional conservationists, thanks to our team of Conservation Careers Bloggers.

Here are just a few of our favourite stories from 2020:

Read all our articles on our Careers Advice blog!

Instagram launch

This year we got more social by joining Instagram!

Stop scrolling! We’re bringing you the latest conservation job listings, internships and volunteering programmes (including paid internships!). We’re at the top of your newsfeed with the hottest interviews and podcasts with the biggest names in conservation.

We’re also sharing ultimate guides, covering all the must-know topics, training opportunities to build your skills, plus quotes to keep you inspired and focussed!

Join the tribe!

Team Conservation Careers

Who is Conservation Careers? And how do we do all the things that we do?

Believe it or not, we get asked these questions pretty often!

Since we launched Conservation Careers in 2013, collaboration has been at the core of what we do. We’ve been joined by dedicated partners, job posters, Conservation Careers Bloggers, researchers and – more recently – social media officers.

We are enormously grateful to our team of passionate people all around the world. It’s thanks to this team that we’ve been able to support over 500,000 conservationists in 2020 on their path to helping wildlife thrive!

Go behind-the-scenes with the Conservation Careers crew!

Conservation Jobs: The Step-by-Step System to Get Hired as a Wildlife Conservationist

Do you want to work in wildlife conservation? Are you struggling to get interviews for conservation jobs? Our ultimate guide to producing successful CVs, Resumes and Cover Letters can help!

To help you get hired, regardless of your budget, we published our popular step-by-step guide ‘Conservation Jobs: The Step-by-Step System to Get Hired as a Wildlife Conservationist’ on Amazon Kindle and Kobo EPUB, as well as the original PDF.
Whether you’re applying for your first professional experience or shifting careers into conservation, this free, step-by-step guide will help you write a killer application designed to get you an interview. In it you’ll learn:
  • The 10 key steps to the application process? From deciding to apply through to submitting your application.
  • How to create stand-out applications? With real-life examples of before and after applications.
  • Which CV or resume style is right for you? Using a series of templates and examples to help you choose.

Throughout the guide you’ll find exercises, tips and links to extra resources. You can work through the guide from beginning to end, or jump to the sections you need most.

Love the guide? Leave us a review, and share with your friends!

Career Coaching | 1:1 support

Are you feeling lost, disillusioned or stuck? Is something holding you back from pursuing the career of your dreams? Are you struggling with a career decision? Would you like to gain clarity about your next steps?

We know the key steps to securing careers in the conservation sector, based on interviews with over 300 professional conservationists worldwide. With over 30 years’ cumulative experience in the industry, we’ve developed a proven step-by-step system to help you get clear, get ready and get hired in the conservation sector.

Our new 1:1 career coaching helps you plan your next steps to make your dream career a reality.

2020 in numbers

A snapshot of the Conservation Careers team around the world.

If you love numbers as much as we do, here are some stats that give a snapshot of 2020.

  • Total audience – 442,892 people served
  • Social media audience – 100,662 followers
  • Conservation jobs posted in 2020 – 7,601 jobs
  • Total jobs posted – 30,918 jobs
  • Podcast episodes – 20
  • Webinars – 7
  • Ultimate Guides – 3
  • Top Lists – 2
  • Interviews – 60+
  • Conservation Careers team – 61
  • Cups of coffee & tea (mostly Nick) – 461
  • Cups of cocoa (mostly Kristi) – 298
  • Zoom interruptions by kids or cats – 5

We’re excited to become more global each year. We’re proud to say that we now rank #2 in Google in the USA for Conservation Jobs!

To find out how far we’ve come since last year, check out our Highlights from 2019!

Looking ahead to 2021

We’ve had a big internal focus on the keyword BETTER recently. Following years of growth, we’ve hit pause on new projects to ensure everything we’re doing is as good as it can be, before we expand again in 2021.

As we look ahead to 2021, with hope on the horizon in the form of vaccines, we’re excited about what’s in store!

Kicking off the new year, on Monday 11th January 2021 we’ll run a Virtual Information Event for our brand new Conservation Career Switch Accelerator | Communications & Marketing. This 6-month programme is designed to help professionals who are working in a marketing or communications role in an entirely different industry, accelerate their career switch into conservation.

In March 2021 we’ll finally host our next Conservation Career Kick-Starter 2021 UK workshop, helping a small group of conservationists kick-start their careers with in-person coaching.

After the success of our brand-new Communications for Conservation Projects course, we’re planning to launch more courses in 2021. Our Conservation Career Booster courses will focus on Project Design, Fundraising and Managing. Watch this space!

Last, but not least, we’re planning to launch three brand-new sections of our website:

  • Experiences – an expanded and improved searchable database of internships, volunteer opportunities and expeditions, possibly with participant reviews and an ethical code of conduct.
  • Fundraising – a searchable database of conservation funding opportunities for training, research, experiences and projects.
  • Conservation Travel – a searchable database of ethical conservation holidays.

We’ll be adding brand-new careers advices resources – including podcast episodes, webinars, interview and ultimate guides. Plus we’ll start sharing downloadable versions of our most popular guides, as well as video trailers of our most popular webinars and podcasts – so you can get the latest advice, in whichever format works best for you!

By now, you probably know that we’re always open to new ideas that come along. Stay tuned as we keep innovating on our mission to help conservationists achieve career success!

Careers Advice, News