Get paid to save the planet: STEM careers in conservation

Conservation careers
Australia has suffered huge declines in biodiversity, with more than 1800 native plants and animals facing extinction. Image: Shutterstock

Do you love plants and animals? Enjoy spending time outdoors? A conservation science pathway could be in your sights

As the human population grows, the world is experiencing a massive loss of biodiversity. In Australia, invasive weeds, feral predators such as cats and foxes, climate change and land clearing have led to more than 1800 native plants and animals being threatened with extinction. Luckily, there are passionate people like conservation scientists who are working behind the scenes to help protect plants, animals and the environment for generations to come.

Conservation career paths are as diverse as the species and ecosystems that we share this planet with. As a conservation scientist, you could specialise in anything from endangered species ecology to marine conservation, feral animal control and land restoration.

The words ‘conservation science’ might make you think khaki-clad rangers in remote locations – hello, field ecologists! – but there are other roles that will  see you splitting your time between the desk and the field, or even a classroom! You’ll need a passion for flora and fauna and an undergraduate degree in environmental science. Otherwise, you can kickstart your career with a TAFE course in conservation and land management.

Once you’re ready for the workforce, search the wanted ads of local councils, state and
federal governments, not-for-profits and natural resource management companies. If you want to stick with the study and expand your conservation knowledge, consider an honours year or a postgraduate degree to hone your speciality.

Science + conservation study

Bachelor of Environmental Science, The University of Queensland
Bachelor of Natural Environment and Wilderness, University of Tasmania
Diploma of Conservation and Land Management, TAFE NSW

Science + conservation jobs

Ecologist: $56K–$83K
Environmental consultant: $51K–$92K
Geographic information systems (GIS) Analyst: $53K–$95K*

*Source: salaries according to payscale.com

This article originally appears in Careers with STEM: Science 2022.

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Amelia Caddy

Author: Amelia Caddy

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