Wildlife Conservationist Job Description

Wildlife conservationists have a passion for nature and animals.
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If you have a passion for nature, animals or the outdoors, consider employment as a wildlife conservationist. Conservationists work to research, protect and manage wildlife, typically in their natural habitats. This includes forests, grasslands, bodies of water and other areas rich in wildlife. They often have other roles, including educating the public or doing research with a post-secondary institution.

Habitat and Marine Conservation

    As the range of duties for wildlife conservationists can be great, they often specialize in habitat or marine conservation. The former concentrates on the physical area and environment where species live or breeding occurs. Duties may include taking samples for testing, planting trees or building support structures for eroding lands. Marine conservation focuses on water-related sustainability of species and clean water supply. Some conservationists focus strictly on endangered species, both on land and in the sea.

Work Environment

    Wildlife conservationists typically work in a range of settings, including the field, offices and laboratories. They often work irregular days and hours, and work schedules can be determined by factors including access to the wildlife, weather that may affect work outdoors and events that happen in the course of nature, such as a limited time-frame to research a species that is actively breeding or spawning. Workers use proper safety precautions and equipment including protective eye-wear, hardhats and safety clothing such as life-jackets when on the water.


    Forest and conservation workers typically need a high school diploma. Most workers get on-the-job training that is specific to their initial duties, such as planting trees. Conservation scientists and foresters work with more responsibility and typically need a bachelor’s degree in forestry or a related field. They work for private companies, not-for-profit organizations and the government. Employers seek applicants who have degrees from programs that are accredited by organizations such as the Society of American Foresters, or SAF.

Job Outlook

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs for forest and conservation workers is expected will have little or no change, growing only 1 percent from 2010 to 2020. However the prospects for conservation scientists and foresters are expected to increase 5 percent from 2010 to 2020. Both are lower than the average of all overall jobs, which should see 7 percent growth over the same period. New jobs are expected at the federal, state and local levels because of an increased need to prevent and mitigate forest fires and deal with the impact of natural disasters.

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