As more media attention is paid to the need to protect our planet and its inhabitants, increasing numbers of people are considering a career in conservation. Which is good since the demand for graduates with skills in this area has never been higher. But with the diversity of the work involved, it can be hard to know what to expect from this career path.
There are so many areas of wildlife conservation you could align yourself with. Be it land-based, marine or exotic wildlife protection in overseas locations. You could find yourself working for local authorities, governmental departments, private estates, engineering companies or even housing developers. And that’s in addition to the many roles offered within national or country parks and nature reserves.
The work you’ll do in these areas again varies depending on the aspect of conservation you’re focused on. But generally, you will perform a range of duties relating to fieldwork, research and education.
To help, we’ve detailed what can be involved in a days work for a conservation assistant. So you can get more familiar with what you’ll likely do as you start out in the field. And giving you a better idea of the areas you may prefer to focus your efforts on as you become more established.
Conservationists work hard to positively influence people’s attitudes, emotions, and behaviours about wildlife and wild places. And they do this by educating them to build and develop their knowledge about the realities of natures decline.
A large part of a conservationists role therefore can be involved with educating communities about the land and life around them. As such, you as a conservation assistant can have a hand in this too. Helping them to deliver the messages needed to people within different areas.
This could involve working in schools, speaking at events or talking with people in public nature spaces. Handing out informative materials and having conversations to raise awareness of the challenges the environment faces.
To help animals that are sick, at-risk, injured and in need of assistance, many conservationists work in animal rehabilitation. This involves working with animal rehabilitation centres and wildlife rangers to rescue and rehabilitate animals. Before reintroducing them into the wild.
As a conservation assistant, you can play an important role by providing a much needed pair of extra hands. Supporting senior conservationists and relevant professionals in all areas of animal care, rehabilitation and release. Getting experience working with animals as they recover through physical therapy and exercise sessions.
Without research, conservationists wouldn’t be able to protect species, habitats and sites around the globe anywhere near as effectively. They need to monitor animal populations and habitats to assess behaviours, changes, and ensure inhabitants have enough resources to live. They also make sure habitats are free from diseases and harmful insects and assess the likelihood of dangers.
This requires work out in the field to collect samples and data. Conservation assistants can help with duties like gathering soil and water samples and taking pictures of the wildlife and environment. Completing surveys and taking notes that provide scientists in the lab with important information.
As a conservation assistant, you can also then help within the lab by logging the data that has been recorded. Research findings can be used worldwide to inform environmental policy makers. As such, administration duties to maintain information and keep records clean, organised and up to date is extremely important.
You could also help within other areas of the operation too, perhaps helping to work on policies and report writing.
While spending on biodiversity and nature conservation by UK governments is increasing, much conservation work is funded by the public. This ranges from trusts and foundations to corporate fundraising, events, legacy fundraising, donors and gifts to community activities.
With the broad scope of these income streams, a large part of conservation work revolves around their organisation. As an assistant, you could be involved with any one of these. Whether it’s being present at events, preparing applications for funding and grants or helping shoot an annual wildlife calendar.
Volunteer Project Organisation
Despite there being many paid opportunities within conservation, a lot of the work relies on the help of volunteers. Different projects take place across the world to help wildlife and natural environments remain preserved and intact. These can include anything from beach clean ups to camera trapping or protecting and conserving animal nesting grounds.
You can become involved with the organisation of these trips and help guide volunteers through the project. Training volunteers and educating them about the wildlife they are helping and the associated threats.
Many of these projects run overseas in exotic locations. Giving you the chance to travel and gain experience working with foreign animals and wildlife species. All of which can build your experience and help advance your own career prospects within conservation.
How to get started as a Conservation Assistant
You can get into the role of a conservation assistant through various means. It is possible to start as a volunteer and progress into a paid role, but competition is fierce for positions.
That’s why getting a relevant education and training is the best route to take. That way, employers can see at a glance that you’re dedicated and committed to the field. And that you have the necessary knowledge and skillset for the job.
There are numerous online courses you can take to get ahead. Whether your preference is in African conservation, rehabilitation, marine wildlife or otherwise.
All these courses can be studied from home. So you can get prepared for your new career without disrupting your current lifestyle. Should any of the courses include a practical element, there a multiple times of the year this can be completed. Giving you even more flexibility and control over your learning.
Should you wish to study conservation related courses at university, you could also study an Access to Higher Education Diploma.
Our Access to HE Diploma (Land Based Science) covers the areas of chemistry, biology and physics in relation to ecology, animal biology and environmental management. This teaches you the importance of balance in nature. And how any imbalance can cause a knock-on effect, impacting on environments, animal populations and even crop yields.
It provides you with the grounding you need to go on to further studies at university. With eventual progression to related careers in conservation and land based science.
Stonebridge Associated Colleges is one of the leading UK distance learning providers. With many online courses that can help you get started as a conservation assistant. Find out more about the knowledge you’ll gain from our Access to HE Diploma (Land Based Science) below.