What Are the Best Tips for Working in Conservation?

C.B. Fox

There are many tips that will help people who are working in conservation. These jobs are rewarding but can also be frustrating and challenging. Conservationists need to be able to keep the big picture in mind while they are working and must rely upon a great deal of knowledge in order to be effective in their jobs. A good education and lots of experience are essential for people working in conservation.

Some conservationists work to protect coral reefs and other ocean life.
Some conservationists work to protect coral reefs and other ocean life.

Before an individual begins preparing for a career working in conservation, he should determine what type of conservation he wants to work in. Conservationists frequently work to protect the oceans, the rain forests, or individual animals, such as gorillas or tigers. They may also work with people to help them develop less destructive farming, mining, or resource collection practices so that the environment and the creatures in it are not endangered. With so many types of career opportunities around the world, it is very important for future conservationists to determine what exactly they hope to protect before completing their education.

Having decided what type of conservation work to pursue, students who are hoping to start a career working in conservation should learn as much as they can about the field. In most cases, this will mean obtaining at least a four-year degree in general biology or in a specific type of biology, such as marine biology, primatology, or anthropology. Though it is possible for someone to start working in conservation with only this degree, most positions strongly prefer candidates with advanced degrees and extensive knowledge in other fields that are useful in conservation. Students should develop a strong understanding of politics, the economy, geography, business, and communication.

It is also important for aspiring conservationists to gain hands-on experience in the field. Internships, volunteer programs, and government sponsored opportunities, such as the Peace Corps, in the United States, can give young conservationists a chance to gain some experience. Though most conservationists are not highly paid, the field is often quite competitive, and people with real-world experience working in conservation are often preferred.

One of the best tips for people who are currently working in conservation is to continue with the work even when it becomes difficult. Conservation is often at odds with human development, though without conservation natural resources might be depleted and preserved areas endangered. Working with governments can be challenging, and conservationists may feel at times that their work is ineffective. Developing the ability to persevere and forming a network with other conservationists to share ideas and feelings about the work can help conservationists get through difficult times in their careers.

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