Key conservation roles | A new map of the conservation sector

Have you ever felt lost, confused or overwhelmed trying to break into the conservation sector? Are you uncertain what roles are available, where you fit or how to get there? You’re not alone…

Conservation is a huge, expanding, diversifying professional industry, offering a dizzying array of conservation job types. On Conservation Careers to date we’ve listed over 50,000 conservation jobs which cover over 15,000 different job titles!

We’ve mapped this complex sector into 11 key conservation roles, using 10 years of experience at Conservation Careers and our latest research.

This new ‘map’ to the conservation sector is designed to support aspiring conservationists and career switchers to navigate the sector and find their path.

You might be interested to learn that 100% of the key conservation roles usually require relevant experience, while 0% of the key conservation roles usually require a master’s degree at early career level.

We also show that the most-wanted transferable skills and behaviours by conservation employers are communication, organisation, teamwork, flexibility and initiative – all of which can be built in any experience, personally or professionally.

In a sector that’s often known for high levels of competition and barriers to entry, we also map pay and competition, showing that they vary widely across the sector.

Explore all 11 key conservation roles here!

What are the 11 key conservation roles?

When you think of conservation jobs, do you envisage someone in the field counting Sea Turtle hatchlings or observing Mountain Gorillas?

Although these conservation jobs exist (and can be very attractive!), they represent just a tiny fraction of the conservation sector.

We mapped 11 key conservation roles that show the wider landscape of the conservation sector. They include popular roles like Scientist and Wildlife Carer, as well as less ‘sexy’ – but vital – roles like Economist, Fundraiser and Policy Advocate.

Explore all 11 key conservation roles!

Do you enjoy being outdoors, being creative and working with people? Conservation Educator could be a role for you! Credit: BLM Oregon and Washington / Flickr.

Education or experience: what do employers value most?

One of the most common questions aspiring conservationists ask us at Conservation Careers is, Do I need a master’s degree to work in conservation?

We summarised the requirements for typical early-career key conservation roles and found that 100% of the key conservation roles require some relevant experience, and/or experience in a related role.

But 0% of the key conservation roles usually require a master’s degree at early career level.

Nine of the 11 key conservation roles don’t require a university degree, or will consider experience as a substitute. Contrary to popular belief, master’s degrees aren’t usually a requirement for entry-level roles.

Which transferable skills do employers value most?

When we researched the requirements across the 11 key conservation roles, we found that communication, organisation and teamwork are the most-wanted transferable skills by conservation employers.

Flexibility and Initiative are the most-wanted behaviours – the way in which conservation professionals do their jobs.

All of the top skills and behaviours can be built through any experience, personally or professionally, and don’t require specialised training.

Communication (verbal and written), organisation and teamwork are the most-wanted transferable skills by conservation employers. Credit: Paul Carroll / Flickr.

What’s next on your journey?

The key conservation roles are for aspiring conservationists, career switchers and anyone with a passion for wildlife conservation.

Open up the map and explore all 11 key conservation roles – from requirements and pay to work contexts, popularity, availability and much more.

If you’re a career switcher seeking to find your path to become a professional conservationist (without the frustration and overwhelm), you can register your interest in our Conservation Pathway Programme.

Ready to discover your own career pathway? Use our Career Discovery Tool to answer some simple questions and we’ll recommend a career pathway in conservation that could suit you, plus your best next steps.