Careers in conservation and development are extremely competitive, and it can sometimes be difficult to know where to start. We have compiled a short guide on the skills and experience you will need for our overseas posts. There is also information on our Conservation Apprenticeship scheme, which is a great way for a volunteer to stay on as a junior staff member.
If you have recently completed your undergraduate degree and are looking for research positions in the field, you can apply for a role as a Volunteer Research Officer on any of our biodiversity research projects. Those applicants with academic backgrounds in Marine Science and with Scuba diving qualifications (to PADI AOW or equivalent) will be eligible to work on one of our marine research projects in Tanzania, Madagascar or Fiji. Our terrestrial projects run in Cambodia, Madagascar, Nicaragua and Tanzania. Volunteer Research Officers work in the field for at least 6 months under the supervision of the senior research staff. They have the opportunity to gain experience in field survey techniques, report writing and volunteer management and those candidates who apply themselves and work well in the field will have the opportunity to extend their contract and take up longer term posts.
If you have a postgraduate degree in a relevant discipline and have worked, volunteered or carried out research in tropical / developing regions as well as having managed volunteers or a team, then you can apply for a funded field research role on either a marine or terrestrial project. Applicants for a marine project will need to be familiar with underwater survey techniques and all applicants should have excellent report writing skills, proficiency with statistical packages and experience of supervising either staff or volunteers. Funded roles are long-term (12 months minimum). Research staff will contribute towards published reports and peer-reviewed articles so it is a fantastic opportunity to get your name on research papers.
Non-research based roles in the field include project management positions such as Country Coordinator. This is a senior staff role based in one of our Overseas Head Quarters. If you have a postgraduate degree and experience of office management and administration as well as negotiation and liaison skills then you may be suited to this role. You will need experience of living and working in developing regions.
The Conservation Apprentice (CA) scheme involves an existing 10 week volunteer staying on for the following phase to become a junior staff member. So if you have very limited field experience and joining on to one of our field expeditions is your first step on the conservation ladder then this is a great way to gain further experience. Field staff choose the most promising volunteer that they feel would make a good conservation apprentice, although they may not choose a CA if no one is considered suitable. If you are interested in being considered for a CA, you should notify staff once you are in the field, however you may need to consider your visa requirements, the costs involved in returning for another phase, or costs incurred by changing flights, extending insurance, obtaining extra prophylaxis etc. As a CA you will have enhanced responsibilities compared to a volunteer but not the full responsibilities of a staff member. It is desirable for a CA to be specialised in at least one (and usually more than one) of the categories we teach so they can aid with teaching and revision of the new volunteers. CA’s can also help the new volunteers settle in to camp life and teach them useful skills such as camp craft.