Is green your favourite colour? Do you have a keen interest in protecting the environment for current and future generations? Do you like working in the great outdoors? Well then, it’s high time you found out all about the professional life of a nature conservation officer!
Nature conservation officers (a.k.a. biodiversity officers) are responsible for ensuring the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources and environments. These guys help to maintain and sustain the UK’s areas of natural beauty.
There ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no valley low enough, to keep these environmentally-friendly professionals from protecting and conserving the environment.
Nature conservation officers primarily have a strategic role, which is integral to the environmental policy-making process and the implementation of conservation initiatives. They provide niche environmental consultancy services to environmental charities, commercial organisations, nature reserves and government departments and executive agencies, helping them decide where’s best to focus their conservation efforts.
If you enter this profession, your main responsibilities will involve planning and implementing schemes aimed at protecting, managing and improving natural habitats, increasing awareness of conservation in the community, monitoring the sustainable use of land and resources and providing a balanced viewpoint in the nature versus urban development debate.
Salary & benefits
Annual salaries for nature conservation officers in the early stages of their careers range between £16,000 and £20,000, while senior professionals can earn between £20,000 and £30,000.
As you progress into a managerial position, you could earn up to £50,000 per annum.
A large portion of your professional life will be spent outdoors, involving irregular and long working hours from time to time. Weekend work is also common, as is travelling to different sites in order to supervise conservation activities.
Work schedules for senior officers and managers tend to be more regular, with more focus on office-based tasks than field work.
In order to break into this line of work, it’s advisable for candidates to obtain a relevant degree in any subject relating to land conservation, environmental science, land management, ecology, geology, rural development, forestry or surveying.
If you haven’t got a relevant undergraduate degree in this area, it may be wise to obtain a relevant postgraduate qualification before applying for entry-level roles.
Entry into this profession can be rather competitive; therefore, it’s pretty much essential for candidates to gain a decent amount of work experience with organisations such as the National Trust, the Environment Agency, Greenforce and other environmental conservation charities.
Training & progression
Training and development activities are primarily facilitated through gaining experience ‘on-the-job’. However, some organisations, such as the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, offer courses and training programmes for nature conservation officers and people working in other similar positions.
If your employer is keen for you to develop your knowledge and expertise, they may even sponsor you to attend these training courses and support you as you study towards gaining relevant professional qualifications.
Career progression opportunities are limited and competition for positions is fierce. As you move into senior conservation officer or project manager positions, you are likely to take a step back from the hands-on field work and focus more on office-based duties that revolve around policy development, budget control, stakeholder engagement and managerial tasks.