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Ask the Conservationist: September 2013

How Can I Work in the Field of Conservation?

Even without a four-year degree, you can contribute to the great work being done in the conservation field!

Protecting our planet is an issue that resonates with a lot of people, and some want to have a direct and hands-on involvement in the work to conserve our natural resources. But if you don't have a degree in wildlife management or civil engineering, what is an environmentalist to do? Our expert has an answer.

Jamie Mullane of Louisville, KY, writes: I would love to work in the field of conservation (particularly wildlife), but I don't have the time or money to get a four-year degree (plus I'm 45). What types of jobs could I seek without a degree? 


Melissa Seipel, HR Manager of Global Operations, replies: 

Thank you so much for your interest in a career in conservation! You don’t mention your previous work experience or professional background, but we have over 3300 staff working in fifty states and thirty five countries in a wide variety of roles.

While our science and conservation staff are critical to our mission, we couldn’t do it without the contributions of men and women in fields such as marketing, finance, legal, administrative and operations, information science, fundraising, human resources -- and the list goes on! At our beautiful Pine Butte guest ranch in Montana, we also hire seasonal cooks and housekeepers. We post new positions often on www.nature.org/careers and you can create a “Job Search Agent” in the locations where you would like to work and receive and email you the moment that new jobs are posted. All positions list the “basic qualifications” required and while many do require four year or advanced degrees, a large number do not.

We also depend heavily on the contributions of our volunteers. Volunteering is also a great way to get to know staff in the offices and learn about what potential needs they may have in the future.

If you find that the positions you are most interested in do require degrees, you may also want to explore the many evening and online degree programs available geared towards working adults, many with financial aid available. It’s never too late to pursue your dreams! 

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