How to decide what is the right conservation career
‘What’s the right conservation career for me?’ is a question we’re commonly asked. Nature conservation is a diverse and expanding field, but there’s one common thread for all practitioners: an absolute passion for nature and its wildlife.
Apart from this closeness to nature, there are only a few other general traits, as there really is no definitive list of competencies for conservation professionals. Certainly, good communications skills to facilitate team work or engage different audiences are needed, as conservation is just as much about driving behaviour change as it is about wildlife management. Finally, perseverance is a much-needed attribute, in your job search and throughout your career, as it can feel like fighting a losing battle sometimes.
What is the right conservation career to match your personality?
In my last post, I spoke about how conservation is expanding, as well as touching on the different conservation paths. These include anything from teaching and academia, to practical fieldwork, to working for a non-profit organisation and much more.
There are some pretty specific roles in conservation that do need certain personality traits. For instance, if conservation fieldwork appeals to you, then good fitness levels and a willingness to brave all kinds of weather are important. Depending on where you’re based (and the kind of animals around!) then keeping a cool head and being comfortable in the remote wilderness are a must.
But most other conservation jobs are less extreme and will have opportunities for all sorts of personalities. With this level of choice, it pays to understand your personality better to discover the right conservation career for you…
Free career personality tests
There are many online personality tests to choose from, but we’re recommending a couple for career insights.
The Myers-Briggs 16 personalities test assesses you on four sets of characteristics: Introversion versus Extraversion; Intuition versus Sensing, Thinking versus Feeling and Judging versus Perceiving. The test then explains which ones dominate your personality and which ‘role’ you fit into, for example an analyst, or a diplomat. You’ll then learn about your workplace behavior and the kinds of areas you’d be suited to.
Once you have a high-level understanding of the area and settings that suit you, try the DISC test. This tells you if your personality type leans more towards ‘dominant’, ‘inspiring’, ‘supportive’ or ‘cautious’. Understanding this helps answer questions like ‘what kind of work environment suits me best?’ and ‘what tasks would I like?’. Whilst this free report won’t give you an in depth analysis, you can find more information on these personality types online.
By starting with these tests, you should build up a picture of the right conservation career for you. But, often the best way to find out what suits you is to go and try it! And what better way than through volunteering…
Let’s hear what one of our past Intern has to say:
Shauna Tay – previous Community and Teaching Project Manager at Perhentian Islands.
Shauna began as a Fuze Ecoteer Intern before becoming a project manager. Her role involved running environmental behaviour change campaigns, coordinating beach cleans and educating tourists to protect coral reefs.
What kind of personality attributes are needed for this kind of work?
“Understanding, patience, empathy and adaptability. Building trust and strong relationships with the community and getting to know the local people is crucial. This involves listening to the community and understanding the cause of environmental issues – not going in as an activist. It never pays to jump straight into a conservation project and accuse people of doing things badly. You must look at the reasons behind people’s behaviour – is it out of greed, necessity or lack of awareness? does it have cultural or religious roots? Working with the community also means being able to think on your feet.”
Sign up for our Conservation Careers Guide!
We’re currently writing a Conservation Careers Guide, where we’ll be giving you more advice on the different conservation career paths. Any of these paths should have something to offer for your personality, so sign up to receive the guide here. With each chapter we write, we’ll also email you a regular summary with careers advice.
Finally, if you would like the guide to address any specific challenges you’re facing in picking a conservation career, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ready, get set, go!