RSPB Phoenix group, RSPB Saltholme Reserve, Teeside

Getting your dream job

Having decided that a career helping to protect and conserve wildlife is for you, it's time to go about making that career a reality.

Getting into conservation

There's a huge wealth of resources out there that can help you to research and pinpoint the areas of conservation you're interested in. This includes your school, college or university's careers library and careers advisor, as well as many useful websites. 

Once you've got an idea of what you want to do in the future, it's time to hone your CV so that when it comes to landing that dream job, you're the dream applicant.

There are various routes into conservation, whether you're academic or a bit more hands on...

Academic qualifications

If you want to work on the scientific side of conservation, A-Levels in Biology and at least one other science are vital. Geography can also be useful.

Following A-Levels, a BSc in Biology, Environmental Science or Zoology can be a good starting point before then specialising during a Masters.

You can use the UCAS website to search for relevant undergraduate degrees when making your application in Year 12. Many degrees offer opportunities for internships and some may be 'sandwich' courses offering a year in industry. Most will be a mix between theoretical study and the development of practical skills. 

Vocational qualifications

Foundation courses usually last for a year and there is often an option of part-time study. These are designed to provide a fast-track to your chosen career and can often be found at agricultural colleges.

Lower entry requirements mean that it is easier to get onto these courses but the study can be highly demanding.

Other alternative qualifications include OCR Nationals, City & Guilds and BTECs/BTEC HND (Higher National Diploma). You can study these in various subjects from Countryside Conservation to Work-based Environmental Conservation. 

Short courses

If you are looking to brush up on specific skills you can find a variety of short courses out there, ranging from those on woodland management techniques (helpful for becoming a nature reserve warden) to barn owl monitoring techniques with the Barn Owl Trust.

The Bat Conservation Trust runs day courses for tree surgeons, and you can find general courses in hedge-laying, dry-stone wall building, using chainsaws, and surveying habitats. 

Volunteering and work experience

You can get involved in conservation volunteering from an early age thanks to organisations such as the RSPB and National Trust. For more information on voluntary opportunities with conservation organisations, visit the volunteering section. Volunteering can help to boost your CV and aid you in gaining necessary skills for your chosen career. Whether you want to work indoors or out, there'll be opportunities available if you do your research. 

And if you have a bit more time on your hands, why not give up a few months to do some unpaid work? The RSPB has plenty of opportunities for you to warden on a nature reserve, whilst charities such as Greenpeace run prestigious intern schemes. 

You should also look at trying to arrange a week's work experience in a relevant department of one of these types of organisations as soon as possible (maybe as part of your school's work experience programme) to test out whether you think you'd suit that sort of work.