What Are the Different Types of Marine Conservation Jobs?

C. Mitchell

There are three main types of marine conservation jobs: field researchers, project directors and coordinators, and administrative and fundraising staff. Many different roles and functions occur within each category. No matter the job title, though, all marine conservationists have at least one thing in common. They all are working towards the goal of safer, cleaner oceans, and their daily tasks support that larger mission in some way, even if indirectly.

Field researchers in the field of marine conservation will collect samples and take census counts of marine plants.
Field researchers in the field of marine conservation will collect samples and take census counts of marine plants.

Field research is one of the most visible marine conservation jobs. Researchers spend a lot of time out in the ocean, either along the shore or actually at sea on a boat. They collect samples, identify species, and take census counts of plant and animal life. Conservationists study everything from the chemical composition of ocean salt to the migratory patterns of whales and sea birds.

Some marine conservationist study the migratory patterns of whales.
Some marine conservationist study the migratory patterns of whales.

The specific tasks and research agendas of field agents are usually dictated by more senior project managers. Project managers may do some field work, but the majority of their job usually centers on data analysis, comparison, and conclusions. A manager is usually responsible for conceiving of a research project and seeing it through from inception to ultimate publication. Reports and studies are often published in industry journals or used to lobby governments and private industries to donate money, change their habits, or alter laws to protect oceans and ocean life.

Both field researchers and project managers are usually highly trained and educated professionals. Most of the time, they must hold a conservation degree or a degree in a related field like marine biology or oceanic chemistry. A lot of conservation training happens on site, but to be successful, scientists must usually come in with a substantial amount of prior knowledge.

Not everyone who works in the marine and environmental conservation fields must be a scientist, however. In fact, most organizations depend on the business management and fundraising expertise of people who have little to no formal conservation training. All employees must usually have a passion for marine preservation and research. The completion of specific conservation courses is not usually required, however.

Most marine conservation organizations operate as non-profit entities. They engage in research for the betterment of the oceans and the world, not for monetary gain. Just the same, employees need to be paid, and operating expenses must be settled. These obligations are largely handled through fundraising, grant proposals, and charitable endowments. High-level business experts coordinating these money streams hold essential marine conservation jobs.

Basic administrative staff are also quite important. Marine conservation jobs in this category are usually based in headquarter offices and are focused on answering phones, coordinating correspondence, and managing promotional material, among other things. Administrative employees hold the conservation group together, providing the framework for the field research and publication. These sorts of marine conservation jobs are not directly involved in wildlife restoration or ocean clean-up, but they directly support those efforts by keeping the offices running.

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