Wed 9th Nov 12.30-13.30: An Introduction to Green Careers (IEMA).
This webinar is part of a green careers series. The next webinar is ‘Green Careers Hub; your next step towards a sustainable future’.
Do you care about nature and the environment and want a career working to improve the world we live in?
There is such a range of nature-positive careers available – from working directly in conservation, forestry and countryside management, to data analysts, urban planners and green finance specialists.
Here you can see some examples of where you can find these jobs, explore a few of the different entry options, and hear directly from individuals working in these types of jobs, as they share their tips and reflect on their career paths.
This webinar is part of a green careers series. The next webinar is ‘Green Careers Hub; your next step towards a sustainable future’.
There are several job boards that have been created specifically for jobs in the environmental sector:
The Green Careers Hub, created by IEMA (the membership body for environment and sustainability professionals) is a platform where anybody, from any sector or background, can go to understand how they can play a role in greening the economy. Next year, more content for the site will be launched, to include case studies and careers advice for those interested in green jobs and green skills. Explore the site now.
Green Jobs for Nature website, created by CIEEM (the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management), is packed with useful information about what a green job for nature is, how to get one, and who you can work for. There is lots of information on the wide range of employers offering green jobs for nature, and the education pathways, work experience and resources to help you out. Explore the site here.
The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) works with employers to develop and approve apprenticeships across many different skill levels and across sectors. These apprenticeships are open to all ages and enable you to work and earn whilst also studying for a qualification (read case studies from apprentices below). Find out more about apprenticeships here: Become an apprentice (apprenticeships.gov.uk)
Some examples of apprenticeships that will help start your career in nature include:
The National Trust offers apprenticeships for those interested in the cultural sector and beyond. The apprenticeships range from rangering and gardening to IT and project management. They vary in length, challenge and structure, depending on the occupation you’re training for. They’ll always last for a minimum of 12 months but in most cases run for longer. All apprenticeships involve off-the-job training, supported by a dedicated mentor and a separate training provider. Find out more and hear from previous apprentices here: National Trust Apprenticeships
The Development Woodland Officer programme offers a three-year, paid development opportunity for passionate individuals looking to kickstart their careers in forestry. Jointly led by the Forestry Commission, the University of Cumbria and the Institute of Chartered Foresters, the programme marks the first time that a degree-level forestry apprenticeship has been offered in the UK, aiming to grow, upskill and diversify the forestry sector workforce.
Development Woodland Officers benefit from academic studies in forestry management at the University of Cumbria, practical experience in Forestry Commission area teams across England, and nine months of wider sector placements to further build their skills and experience, enhancing future employment prospects.
Upon completion of the programme, successful graduates will earn a Professional Forester Apprenticeship (equivalent to Level 6), a BSc (Hons) in Forest Management and the potential to gain Chartered Forester status with the Institute of Chartered Foresters.
Find more information and hear from the first cohort of apprentices here:
Find more information about applying here: Apply for a Forestry Apprenticeship – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
New to Nature will provide young people aged 18-25 with supported 12-month work placements in nature and landscape organisations across the UK.
Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and delivered through a partnership of Groundwork, The Prince’s Trust, Disability Rights UK, Mission Diverse, and the Youth Environmental Service, the programme will run until May 2024 and provide paid work placements for at least 70 young people to undertake a range of environmental roles.
The programme’s focus is on attracting young people from diverse backgrounds into the sector, reflecting the partnership’s shared desire to demonstrate that the environment matters to everyone. Research shows that the environmental sector is not currently reflective of the communities it seeks to engage with and serve; therefore, the programme is particularly keen to attract young people who are from ethnically diverse backgrounds, who have a disability or who are economically disadvantaged. Find out more at: https://www.groundwork.org.uk/projects/new-to-nature/.
The Working for Nature trainee scheme enables people with no previous experience or qualifications in conservation to work alongside our team and our volunteers, to develop hands-on practical experience and vital professional skills to help take that first step to a career in conservation. They are a paid traineeships and each placement is for a minimum of 44 weeks. Recruits work alongside a supervisor at the Wildlife Trust they are based at and study for a Level 2 qualification in Work-based Environmental Conservation. The project is split between three of our Trusts – Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust and Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust. Find out more and hear from previous trainees here: Working for Nature | Derbyshire Wildlife Trust
The National Land Based College (NLBC) offers over 800 courses with specialist universities and colleges to further your skills or start your career in the land-based sector. These courses include technical qualifications and apprenticeships. These courses are strongly linked to employers in land-based industries via Landex. Find out more about the courses available here: Great Careers start here – National Land Based College (nlbc.uk). Additionally, if you’re interested in learning more about a career in the land-based sector find out more here Land Based Careers – National Land Based College (nlbc.uk)
If you’re aged 19 and over and looking to change sectors or progress in your current industry, a Skills Bootcamp could be your next step to a better job. These flexible courses last up to 16 weeks and allow you to gain skills employers are looking for. You will also be guaranteed a job interview at the end of the course. For most Skills Bootcamps, no previous knowledge in the subject is needed – you just need a good grasp of the English language and the willingness to learn new skills.
Some examples of nature-based bootcamps include woodland management and sustainability. There are also lots of bootcamps for cross-cutting skills that are key for many jobs in nature such as data analytics, leadership and hospitality. Find out more about skills bootcamps.
Are you keen to make a difference to improving nature, habitats and biodiversity on-farm, as well as healthy soils and clean water by working with farmers and land owners? BASIS provides environmental training courses at different levels from the introductory Principles of Sustainable Land Management course (self-guided online course or in-person) to get you started, to our Soil & Water Management or Certificate in Sustainable Land Management courses, to dive into the details and learn the techniques and practices to be able to advise farmers in this important area.
Volunteering with Natural England is a great opportunity to add valuable work experience to your CV and use your existing skills and learn new ones. You’ll be working as part of a team with staff and other volunteers and can get involved in a wide variety of tasks – from scientific surveying to enthusing visitors on our National Nature Reserves (NNRs). There is no minimum time commitment. Keep your eye open for openings here: Volunteering with Natural England: how to get involved – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
IEMA is the membership body for environment and sustainability professionals, providing tools, networks and resources for our members. Read some of our case studies:
BASIS Environmental Advisers: It’s such an exciting career to be an environmental adviser within the agriculture and horticulture sectors – to learn more from others in this position and join the UK’s professional network of environmental advisers, have a look at our Environmental Advisers Register website or check out this video for ideas and inspiration – we look forward to you joining us on-farm soon!
Here you can find a collection of videos of individuals working in green careers talking about what they do in their jobs, how they got into it, and why it’s important to tackle the climate and ecological emergencies we face. There are also links to use these videos for lesson plans and teacher notes. This work was funded by the Southover Manor Trust and South Downs National Park Authority.
There is a high level of ambition to increase diversity across the environment sector, with many organisations working together to address low representation of people from minority ethnic backgrounds.
A Route Map Towards Greater Ethnic Diversity in the Environment Sector was launched in October 2022 by Wildlife and Countryside Link, in partnership with Natural England, the diversity and leadership consultancy Full Colour, and a working group of environmental organisations. The route map and accompanying guidebook provide direction and advice to help organisations to take action and work together to progress towards greater ethnic diversity in the environment sector. Implementing the route map will be an ongoing focus for the sector for the months and years to come –42 organisations so far have pledged to commit to and deliver the route map’s aims over the next five years.
The National Lottery Heritage Fund has developed a Racial equity in nature toolkit to help organisations gain the tools and confidence to recruit and retain more diverse staff and volunteers. It focussed on recruiting people at the beginning of their careers, in particular people aged 18-25 from ethnically diverse communities. The toolkit contains practical advice and tips for advertising and outreach, writing job descriptions, shortlisting candidates, and selecting candidates and support for staff.
The Wildlife Trusts have worked closely with Wildlife and Countryside Link to look into the barriers to ethnic inclusion and to take steps to tackle them to create greater diversity. Find the reports and some case studies from ethnically diverse individuals who are working to protect nature and the environment here: https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/our-journey-greater-ethnic-diversity
The Wildlife Trusts acknowledge that not everyone has equal access to nature and women can face many barriers when it comes to accessing nature and careers in the conversation sector. They asked women across the Wildlife Trusts about their experiences of womanhood, joys of nature and how can the sector can be more inclusive for all women. Find out more in this International Women’s Day Blog.
This webpage is a collaborative space based on input from the following organisations:
(c) 2022 All Rights Reserved | National Careers Week
The Forestry Commission’s Development Woodland Officer programme offers a three-year, paid development opportunity for passionate individuals looking to kickstart their careers in forestry.
Jointly led by the Forestry Commission, the University of Cumbria and the Institute of Chartered Foresters, Development Woodland Officers benefit from academic studies in forestry management at the University of Cumbria, practical experience in Forestry Commission area teams across England, and nine months of wider sector placements to further build their skills and experience, enhancing future employment prospects.
Upon completion of the programme, successful graduates will earn a Professional Forester Apprenticeship (equivalent to Level 6), a BSc (Hons) in Forest Management and the potential to gain Chartered Forester status with the Institute of Chartered Foresters. The programme marks the first time that a degree-level forestry apprenticeship has been offered in the UK. The aim of the apprenticeship programme is to grow, upskill, and diversify the forestry sector workforce, expanding long-term workforce capacity in order to deliver the Government’s tree planting and woodland creation ambitions over the coming years.
Gareth Biggins and Luke Ellis, new Forestry Commission Development Woodland Officers, describe their different journeys towards a career in forestry:
“I’ve wanted to make a career change into forestry for some time having worked in the rail industry for 15 years. The programme offers a great way to achieve this while working to protect and expand our woodlands.” Gareth Biggins
“I applied because I am passionate about environmental protection, and I have a particular interest in trees which was developed during my dissertation in dendrochronology. I was also seeking out a role that will allow me to make a positive contribution to people and planet.”
Over the three-year course, apprentices on the Forestry Commission’s Development Woodland Officer programme will enjoy a mix of 80% on-the-job training and 20% academic studies. This affords the opportunity to practice and hone newly developed skills in the real world, whilst also being ‘paid to learn’.
The first cohort began their academic studies in forestry management at the University of Cumbria in September this year. Their learning will be structured in block release studies and will take place either at one of the University campuses or at the Forestry Commission training centre, Cannock Chase near Rugeley. This element of the course will be on average one week every two months.
Following the learning modules, apprentices return to their host Forestry Commission teams across England to consolidate their skills in the real world, while also engaging in additional on-the-job training. The practical elements of the course will not only be delivered by the Forestry Commission but also through nine months of wider sector placements to further build skills and experience, enhancing future employment prospects.
Mark Beer, a new Development Woodland Officer says,
“The Development Woodland Officer programme is a fantastic opportunity to get on the job experience at the same time as acquiring a forestry degree.”
Charlotte Heslop, one of the new Development Woodland Officers, perfectly captures the spirit of the programme:
“I would like to develop a foundation of knowledge that will support my future career, and will help me to get others informed, interested, and passionate about forestry in the UK.”
The next round of applications will open in early 2023. 15 places will be available on the Forestry Commission’s Development Woodland Officer programme. For the latest updates please see Forestry Commission GOV.UK and subscribe to receive Forestry Commission eAlerts.
Forestry Commission are also working with other employers in the sector to open up more opportunities for apprentices to join this programme.
I’ve always had a passion for the natural world. Ever since I was young, I’ve looked under rocks and logs for minibeasts and creepy crawlies and if I was really lucky a frog or a toad! Some of my most memorable experiences in nature came from school trips with Outdoor Education. Climbing Ben Nevis and kayaking through sea lochs in west Scotland are memories that will stay with me forever.
After school I went on to work at the same place I’d done my work experience 3 years prior, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, as an Apprentice Conservation Officer. Here I learned many of the skills that got me where I am today, Glenridding Common Ranger with the John Muir Trust. My role involves a wide range of tasks from footpath maintenance to monitoring breeding birds. Managing land in this part of the world is very complex. I love all parts of my job but by far the activities that bring me the most joy are growing and planting our rare alpine flora and engaging volunteers and young people with wild places like Glenridding Common.
My advice for young people interested in working in the conservation sector would be show your passion! If you are keen on something, ask questions, get involved in volunteering with a conservation organisation and get yourself out there. It’s amazing how far enthusiasm and a willingness to always learn more can take you.
My apprenticeship involves working to create and protect water environments. This involves project management, working alongside other Non-Governmental Organisations, education, habitat creation and surveys.
I’ve always wanted to have a career in environmental conservation, helping to protect and restore habitats as well as educate and inform people on the environmental issues we face. It’s so important in the current climate that we pull together, and all do our bit to try and protect the environment. Having lived in the lake district my entire life protecting the natural environment, especially water environments, as always been something important to me.
I decided to do an apprenticeship as I’ve always wanted to work in conservation, and I wanted to get stuck in as soon as possible. I’m much more of a practical learner so an apprenticeship seemed ideal, it also allowed me to get the practical experience needed to work in the sector as well as allowing me to make a real practical difference during my studies.
The practical experience I have had has been amazing, I’ve been able to create new habitats and work alongside so many amazing colleagues and organisations along the way. Being outdoors surrounded by wildlife every day in the lake district is a dream come true!
I really recommend a green apprenticeship, it’s such a great way to experience nature and the outdoors, gain new skills, and be around like-minded people of all ages and abilities There are so many different paths too, you don’t have to do something practical to make a difference.
I’m currently doing an internship as Carbon Officer with the John Muir Trust. It’s a wide-ranging role that concerns just about anything to do with carbon emissions in the Trust. A large part of the role is carbon accounting – tracking the Trust’s emissions and finding means of reducing them. Another big focus is on policy – influencing the government and other decision makers to ensure that carbon emissions from wild land are minimised, and that biodiversity is protected.
Before I started the job, I had recently finished a Master’s in Politics – although it’s taken me time to get where I am now, and I’ve done a number of different jobs. At postgraduate level I focused on policy, aiming to work in an environmental non-profit or a charity with another worthwhile cause. I also did courses on other topics that interested me – I think just being interested in something is often a good enough reason to do it, and it’s easier to do a good job of something you’re interested in. I think there’s a misconception that to work in a conservation charity you need a science background, which was something I had worried about; however, this isn’t necessarily the case.
My name is Andrea, I am Australian and I’m a Countryside Ranger Apprentice with the North York Moors National Park.
After working across the world in publishing, broadcasting, cultural heritage and teaching for many years, I became acutely aware of the catastrophic demise of the natural environment and I could no longer keep my head in the sand.
I abandoned Paris, relocated to England, and immediately started volunteering with conservation organisations, including RSPB Arne in Dorset. In 2020, once the tightest of Covid-19 restrictions had lifted, I was invited to visit the town of Whitby on the Yorkshire Coast. I had no idea where this was, but a Google search saw me stumble across a large green area called the North York Moors…
By 1 September I had applied for and been offered an apprenticeship with the National Park, I moved to North Yorkshire and embarked on the National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) Level 2.
Since then, I have received training in first aid, pesticides, cross-cutting and maintenance, operating a 360 digger, tractor driving, dry stone walling and dumper driving. I can also use a wacker plate, tracked barrow, reciprocating saw and impact driver. This was in addition to already having done strimmer/brushcutter and ATV driving at Arne. We also spent five months of the year doing lineside work and habitat management for the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, which included building reptile hibernaculums and undertaking surveys for species including bats, water voles, wildflowers, turtle doves and fresh-water invertebrates.
I have done numerous wonderful things in my life, but this apprenticeship is up there with the best. In July of this year, I passed my formal assessments for my NVQ Level 2 with distinction and now plan to dedicate the rest of my working life to environmental conservation.
During my internship, I assisted in the coordination and planning of projects, collecting required information, contacting the necessary people, and researching potential options which we could take to ease the completion of the projects.
I’ve always been passionate about nature, the environment and conservation, so when I graduated with a degree in Ecology, I wanted to find a position in the green sector where I could make a real difference. I particularly liked the look of this apprenticeship because it will allow me to develop the skills and experience, I need to work on large scale green/conservation projects in the future.
I chose this apprenticeship because I knew that it would be a fantastic way to learn new skills and apply them within the working environment straight away. I’m a very practical learner so being able to apply what I learn has been absolutely fantastic. After I graduated, I did look at entering a professional job straight away, however I felt that by expanding on my skills with an apprenticeship first, I would be able to make more of an impact when I do enter a position in the conservation sector.
The thing I enjoy most about the apprenticeship is that I am placed right in the middle of green projects, so I am constantly exposed to all the processes and procedures which happen in order to deliver such projects. I would absolutely recommend a green apprenticeship to anyone considering them. Not only do you learn many important and transferrable skills, you also start your journey towards making your own impact on global warming and the ecological crises which this, and many other countries are currently facing.
I am responsible for engaging the public with nature through running events and activities – anything from pond dipping to fungi walks to a series of events looking at food through history.
I studied Animal management at university and followed up with another qualification at Askham Bryam college. I know I loved wildlife and people, so when a traineeship came up at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust I thought it would be ideal! Turned out it was something I was very passionate about and really excelled at, so when my traineeship finished I went straight into a Community Engagement Assistant job with the Trust. A common misconception about my role is that conservation is just about the practical work with wildlife and habitats. I think it is just as important to teach and inspire people about the natural world at their level – otherwise we will never manage change.
Don’t feel too pressured to go to University immediately or at all – you can take time out to think what you want to do. There are always external pressures but follow your passion – you’ll end up there anyway and you’ll excel at it.
I’m an amateur mycologist (fungi) and a published author of a scientific paper – opportunities I wouldn’t have had without working for the Trust!
My role is head of the Data Analytics and Science Hub at Defra – I lead a team of data scientists who help other scientists and analysts across Defra to use data more effectively. That data might be about the various uses of land, what animals or plants are found in different places or the quality of the soil. The service we are building will help analysts using this data to do their work easier, faster and will open up opportunities to link together these datasets to for example understand how different uses of land, and the quality of soil effect the animals and plants that we find there. We provide coding training, advice on using cloud-based tools, and we bring together the community regularly to share exciting project news and ideas and to help each other solve problems.
I’ve always had an interest in the environment and nature and have been keen to work on these topics for a long time, but have had a bit of a circuitous route to get here! After a bachelor’s degree in maths, I started my civil service career as an operational researcher at the Department of Energy and Climate Change where I worked on the Renewable Heat Incentive programme, modelling the effect of different incentives on consumer behaviour. I then moved to the Home Office to do a few different modelling and analysis roles, including modelling e-passport queues at airports, before transitioning into data science at the Ministry of Justice. After 6 years working on family justice issues and helping improve the working of prisons, I decided it was time to move to something more in-line with my interests and that’s when I applied for this role at Defra.
My advice would be to take each step as it comes and seek out opportunities that interest and challenge you. I’ve never had much of a plan for my career and not all my moves have been quite what I expected but I’ve always learnt a lot and picked up a wide range of experiences that are of huge help to me in my role now. Finding things you enjoy within your role is super important but recognising that you’ll rarely love it all and you may be surprised at the things you enjoy most is also key.
As a Biodiversity Data Coordinator at JNCC, I spend most of my time at a desk working on spreadsheets, emails and Word documents. However, a lot of my experience leading up to this role has been outdoors, both overseas and in the UK.
Growing up in Africa, I had the opportunity to volunteer and conduct research projects in conservancies protecting large mammals such as mountain bongo and black rhino. After completing my undergraduate studies in the UK and conducting a few bat surveys along the way, it became clear to me that I needed to brush up on my UK species knowledge and worked to learn more about UK ecology in general. This, in conjunction with my masters degree, prepared me for the role I am in now which, despite being entry level, has covered a variety of different work areas and even a high profile, debatably controversial project!
My advice would be to take any opportunity that is related to ecology. All of nature is connected so this will provide insight into the complex linkages. Also, don’t be afraid to work in a completely unrelated area in the short term, to gain the soft skills needed to do any wildlife conservation job.
I Work for DASH (Data analytics and Science Hub) and we bring a data driven focus to Defra. Specifically, we are currently working on implementing a cloud computing platform so environmental analysts can easily access the data they need and have the relevant tools for their analysis.
I did my undergraduate degree in Maths that I didn’t particularly enjoy as it was extremely theoretical. I decided to do a master’s in data science as it lends to people with good numerical skills but is also very applicable. I thoroughly enjoyed it and so wanted to pursue a career in data science. I didn’t necessarily target an environmental role, but when I saw this opportunity arise, I was excited by the environmental element it would provide.
The biggest misconception about my role is that people have an innate ability on how to code or they learnt it at university under proper instruction. I learnt to code when I was 25 years old as it was a perquisite for my master’s degree. There are loads of free and paid resources online that make it easy for anyone of any background to learn coding skills.
My advice for young people is to not be put off when you come across people that know much more than you about a particular subject that you yourself have a lot of knowledge on. Development is constant throughout your life, and you’ll be surprised how much more you’ll learn in a year on a topic you already thought you knew a lot on.
I work as a Policy and Engagement Advisor within the Defra Forestry Team. My role focuses on building stronger relationships with external partners, supporting Ministers, and developing policy to improve public access to woodlands.
There are a wide variety of mental and physical well-being benefits to be gained from increased access to nature. The value the nation places on access to woodlands has never been so apparent; Forestry England saw their highest ever number of visitors in 2021. This is why I find my work so important, as I am seeking ways to improve the quantity, quality and permanency of access to woodlands.
I have been in my role for 2 years, recently completing my Policy Advisor Apprenticeship. Choosing an apprenticeship allowed me to take an alternative route into my role. I have been able to supplement my daily tasks with development opportunities specifically catered for policy advisors.
There are many misconceptions surrounding apprenticeships, mainly that you will be given work to do that no one else wants to deal with. From my own experience, this is entirely inaccurate as from day one I was supported to undertake tasks with varying levels of responsibility and given the freedom to tailor my role to my own needs.
I am a Marine Planner in the Marine Management Organisation. Being a Marine Planner involves thinking about how different people and activities can use our seas in a sustainable way. Whether that be building offshore wind turbines, maintaining shipping channels or restoring sensitive habitats, Marine Planners make sure these activities happen in the right place, in the right way and at the right time. My daily work ranges widely, developing biodiversity policies for England’s seas one day and talking with marine industry experts the next, no two days are the same. I love having the opportunity to actively improve and protect our marine life through the policies and plans I help develop.
Before I was a Marine Planner, I completed a degree in Marine Geography at Cardiff University with a year in industry. I am dyslexic and as a result, often struggled at school. I only started to achieve what I was capable of once I had found a subject that I was truly interested in. My advice to anyone looking to start their career, is to follow their interests and to find a supportive environment in which to grow. Working within the Civil Service has been the perfect combination of these for me.
My name is Alice, and I am a Project Manager. My job is to work with experts to figure out how to change empty and derelict land, like old landfill sites, into the forests of the future. I organise everyone in the team, make sure they know what they are doing when, and if something goes wrong work out how and who can help fix it.
I am not a biologist, or an engineer – at university I studied English and Theatre. Until recently I didn’t even know much about trees, except that I loved walking in the woods! What I learned through producing and acting in plays at university was how to organise a team and present my ideas confidently.
I worked in a few jobs after graduating and then applied to the Civil Service Fast Stream. I didn’t get into the programme, but they put me on a waiting list for other jobs. One day when I was working at my fundraising job, the Civil Service rang me up and offered me a job working on Brexit. It was exciting to come into work in Westminster and while I was there, they gave me loads of project management training. After two years working on Brexit, I moved to work in the Tree Planting team.
I work at Natural England helping scientists to communicate about their research. Natural England is the government’s adviser for the natural environment in England and produces a lot of important reports and data about nature.
My role is to help pick out the key messages from the research and share these via social media, press releases, webinars, and blogs. Sometimes scientists need help translating complicated and technical language into things that non-experts (like me!) can understand.
There is a lot of variety in my day-to-day work. I can go from designing an infographic about the ability of peat bogs to store carbon, to hosting a webinar about earthworms!
I enjoy working in communications because I get to work with incredible experts, and I am always learning from them. Working with so many people who are fighting to protect and restore our natural environment has also made me much more positive about tackling the climate emergency.
I studied History and Politics at University and got into communications by volunteering with a range of charities. Charities and small organisations are often on the lookout for young people to help them with their social media accounts and this can be a great way to gain work experience.
I started my career in nature conservation; measuring biodiversity – the living part of nature – at a global scale and channeling knowledge into decision making and policy. I had the opportunity to work internationally, including researching forest restoration in Kenya and tackling illegal wildlife trade in Indonesia. I was always challenged by the lack of funding to create positive impact for nature at scale; grants are limited, competitive and short-term. This left me with a big question. If nature is so important to our economy and wellbeing, why are we not investing in its long-term survival?
Green finance focuses on scaling and redirecting money towards sustainable outcomes for people and planet. Finance Earth supports high quality nature restoration that delivers social and environmental benefits, whilst also generating financial returns for investors. I work to raise investment to restore our degraded peatlands through the sale of carbon and biodiversity credits. With no formal financial training, I didn’t think I could transition into the green finance sector, but I quickly discovered with the right team, anyone can learn these valuable skills. And as a new sector, there’s a lot of learning all round. Bankers are learning about nature and ecologists are learning about finance. And that’s what we need, people with diverse skills and experience innovating and finding new solutions.
I’m Lani Dines and work in the Income Generation team at the John Muir Trust. I am a fundraising officer working on primarily trust and grant applications. I work on a laptop most of the time which can feel a little removed from nature, but my role is vital to ensure funding of exciting conservation-based projects on the ground.
I have always been fascinated with the natural world and studied Environmental Science at University. I volunteered whilst working in a shop and got involved in their corporate social responsibility work tree planting for a local charity. Through networking and volunteering, years later I then worked at the charity and am now a trustee for the charity.
I would recommend to volunteer where you can but also any job can be a climate job- it is all interlinked so if you work in a shop or office there are roles you can play in improving their sustainability and reducing the impact on the natural world. I also think growing your network is great for career and personal development – keep in contact with the people you have worked or volunteered with as you never know what opportunities it might lead to.
Hi! I’m Meg, I’m 22 and I’m the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Officer for Norfolk Wildlife Trust. I work to make nature conservation more accessible and inclusive for everyone to work in and enjoy, no matter your background.
I never thought I could work in nature or environmentalism as I’m not great with statistics or numbers. Then I started learning about climate justice whilst I was working as a bartender after finishing school. Even though I’m not a scientist, I decided that I could still do something about climate change and injustice; I might be bad with numbers, but I am good with words and people. So, I started looking into inclusivity, decolonising, community-organising and eco-communication.
My next step was to go and study Literature and Creative Writing on a scholarship at uni. I was very sneaky and tailored my degree towards nature writing and social justice, which really supported me in applying for nature and inclusion-related jobs.
If you’re able to follow your own interests through studying or make projects around work, I really recommend it!
My interests and extra projects helped me to get a paid internship in communications at Norfolk Wildlife Trust and that’s how my role as an EDI officer came about.
I’m queer, non-binary, neurodivergent and working class – I came into my job and was totally honest about myself, my identity and my values. More people like me (and different to me!) are coming into nature-related jobs all the time – it’s a joy to work in this sector and know that I’m helping out nature and other people, whilst also changing how the environmental sector looks, works and feels.
I support the team with growing the 35 million trees that we send out to be planted every year, this means that I spend a good chunk of my time out on the fields, monitoring the trees as they develop. I oversee our seed orchards, collecting seed, and also look after trials at forest sites. I am outside in all weathers doing loads of varied work throughout the year.
Geography was always my favourite subject at school and that led me to study it at university. I chose modules looking at climate change, biodiversity, conservation, did some relevant volunteering and work experience, and was then able to find a graduate job at Maelor – I’ve been here ever since.
Before I started, I thought that as trees were slow growing, I wouldn’t see much change over the course of the year, but I couldn’t have been more wrong, things change daily on the nursery and there is always something keeping us all very busy!
If you study a subject you enjoy, you will be naturally curious and motivated in your position. Volunteering and work experience gives you great experience in what your chosen career will be like and enables you to narrow down the direction you think you want to go in.
Oli and Victoria are Habitat Restoration and Conservation Engagement officers for the Lake District National Park (LDNP). They are based over at Brockhole on Windermere and are delivering a project as part of the Green Recovery Challenge Fund (GRCF). Victoria talks a little bit more about her role and how she got there.
“I graduated last year (2021) after studying BSc Wildlife Conservation at Nottingham Trent University and I was eager to put knowledge into practice. It was really important to me that my postgraduate job involved lots of outdoor hands-on experience, and fortunately, my role for the National Park is really varied; no two days are the same. My time is split between undertaking practical conservation work and education; where I get the opportunity to connect young people with nature through our ‘Explore & Restore’ nature days.
Myself and Oli have spent the last year reclaiming more space for wildlife and improving the habitats at Brockhole, including: creation of two new ponds, expansion of Tall Herb Fen, introduction of three honeybee hives, lakeshore protection and much more!
It has been a huge learning curve in understanding the processes for habitat creation/restoration and I think one misconception is that conservation is easy or simple! There are many hoops to jump if you want to even consider making changes to an area of land and there is a lot of researching and understanding the ecology.
You definitely need some resilience and a passion for your vision – but the feeling of when you see your new ponds filled with newts and dragonflies or you harvest your first round of honey from your bees – it certainly feels like a win for you and for nature. It’s even more rewarding that we get to share our achievements with hundreds of pupils from schools in the North West who otherwise wouldn’t get the opportunity to visit the Lake District.
By far, the best part of our job is combining outdoor exploration with the inquisitive minds of young people. Nature is our greatest teacher and an important source of wisdom for all! ’’
More details see here: Green Recovery at Brockhole : Lake District National Park
I’m a Ranger at Northumberland National Park, and I help to conserve and manage the landscape. I work with landowners and across our own sites to encourage visitors to enjoy and connect with the environment around them, whilst also protecting and conserving our unique and special landscape.
I started working at Northumberland National Park as an information assistant. I met the Ranger team through this and learnt all about their jobs and roles. I then started volunteering, and three years later (with some volunteer experience under my belt), I applied and got the role as Assistant Trail Maintenance Ranger for a year. This then gave me the experience and knowledge, which included gaining a trailer license and brushcutter ticket, to apply for a nine-month Ranger post. I’ve now been in the role a year and a half and learning more and more about the job as I go!
I love it. It’s hard work. No two days are the same. But the best way to learn is with hands on experience. I’d recommend finding a company or organisation that interests you and see if you can volunteer with them. Try and find a team or mentor to help you on your way; I love teaching keen and enthusiastic young people new skills.
The job involves so many different things, literally no two days the same. Yesterday I was out with a group from Aysgarth School. Last week I was with another school talking about rivers and wildlife. I could be in the Muker hay meadows cutting back grass along the flagstones, I could be speaking to local farmers about the challenges and pressures they’re facing right now, catching up with gamekeepers and generally observing what is happening in the landscape. Maintaining great relationships right across the community is really important.
I graduated with a degree in Countryside Management in 1999 and followed that with a year’s voluntary work with the Trust for Conservation Volunteers. I basically ran a volunteer group, carrying out conservation tasks around the Vale of York – lots of meadows and hedge planting and working with ponds – very practical conservation stuff. I then worked for the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust as part of a new deal scheme through the unemployment service and worked all over Yorkshire.
I first joined the National Park as a Seasonal Access Ranger when the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 came in becoming an Access Ranger in Upper Wensleydale in 2001, where I built stiles, gates, footbridges, and erected sings. I finally moved into my current job eleven years ago.
It’s great so many young people say they want to work outdoors, but I always ask, “what are you interested in? What do you want to do when you’re outside? What is it that you value about the landscape?” Once you understand that, volunteering with an organisation doing the work you’re interested in is key, as is committing to it, not just a few days a week, really committing to it. I volunteered for two years while living at home but I met loads of interesting and encouraging people and had the best two years of my life. I haven’t looked back.
I am the Assistant Trail Maintenance Ranger on Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail. I am outside in nature everyday managing the impact of Trail walkers on the environment. This includes gate/stile maintenance and grassland management, whilst working alongside an ancient scheduled monument which we help to conserve.
I have a degree in ‘Biology (with Ecology and Conservation)’, and I always really wanted to be in the practical conservation sector. I started as an ecologist doing newt and bat surveys when I finished university, and then I started volunteering for Northumberland National Park in May 2021, which then led to me becoming a Young Green Leader through Generation Green in July. I applied for the Assistant Trail Maintenance Ranger role in February 2022 and started in March 2022!
One misconception about my job is that I’m outside all day and don’t see anyone. We are actually considered as front of house staff; we interact a lot with the public and especially Trail walkers on a daily basis. They are often on holiday, so it is our job to make them feel welcome and looked after.
My advice would be to try and get into volunteering, even if it’s just once a month! Find your passion (mine was practical conservation/maintenance, bird ID or plants etc.); going into an interview with a genuine interest and knowledge is crucial and that will come across to employers even if you don’t know everything. Don’t be scared to try new things or travel for work.
I am the Community Organising Project Officer on The Wildlife Trusts’ Nextdoor Nature project. This includes connecting people and bringing communities together, then finding out what they would like to improve about their local environment. This could be setting up a walking group, a community garden, creating ‘wilder areas’ of land to help local wildlife or even creating wildlife habitat boxes.
I completed a First-Class degree in Marketing and Advertising, but after completing internships I realised that marketing wasn’t the industry for me. I have always enjoyed nature and wildlife and quickly discovered that conservation would be perfect for me. I attended webinars and volunteered on Kent’s Wildlife Trust’s Wilder Blean project, educating visitors about the bison that we had introduced to the woods and answering questions from visitors. It was through this volunteering opportunity that I found out about my current role and decided to apply. My advice is to attend lots of webinars, ask questions and volunteer if you can!
Being mixed race, conservation isn’t an industry that has always felt welcoming of different ethnicities. It is encouraging that times are changing and more people like me are being given the opportunity to get involved in conservation. I am also a big fan of reptiles and amphibians, and I own an axolotl, a snake and a pacman frog (and a cat).
I currently manage the part of Norfolk Wildlife Trust that works outside of our nature reserves. This includes running projects to restore wildlife habitats and advising landowners, including farmers, who want to manage land in a way that helps nature. We are also looking at new projects that capture carbon and help wildlife, like woodland planting and restoring peat.
I did a degree at agricultural college, then started by volunteering and working as a ranger – this meant building fences, paths, drystone walls and managing volunteers. I then worked on a community project and a few short-term contracts, including some time working as an environmental campaigner. Very varied!
I don’t have a masters in ecology, but was interested in botany as a child and taught myself plant identification. I spent a lot of time on training courses, volunteering and teaching myself lots of things about wildlife. I think conservation is one thing where an interest in what you do overtakes formal education and there are lots of routes and opportunities into it. I know some brilliant conservationists who are not university educated.
Volunteering is a great way into conservation – most of all, just really enjoy nature. When I started out, women in conservation mainly went into working with children. This path was really not for me, so it took me ages to find my feet and find a path that worked for me. Thankfully things are a little more enlightened now!
I am the Coast and The Wash Warden for Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust where I look after and create habitats for wildlife.
After 15 years working in industry, I decided to follow a long-held dream to work in nature conservation. I did a one-year course in Conservation Management followed by a three-year degree in Zoology at the age of 32. Ten months residential volunteering at Gibraltar Point National Nature Reserve finally got me my first paid role as an Estate Worker at Durlston Country Park (now National Nature Reserve) in Dorset, and so my career began. The main misconception about my role is that I work with animals when actually it is mainly about habitats.
My advice to anyone getting into nature conservation is volunteer! Volunteer! Volunteer! Use your local nature conservation experts for as much information and expertise as possible. Most are very forthcoming with their knowledge. I feel very lucky and privileged to work in nature conservation. My biggest take is that now working life is not about waking up on Monday morning looking forward to the weekend.
I’m working as part of the team to restore the biodiversity, water level, carbon capturing abilities and use of upland peat landscapes for people and wildlife. My role helps the team deliver the practical work on the ground by making sure they have the resources and support to do this.
I did an undergraduate and two postgraduate degrees in Archaeology. After this, I initially applied to do a funded postgraduate project which focused on engaging hard-to-reach groups of people with history, but I found that the reality of academic work and the heritage sector was quite different to what I expected. This in combination with mental health struggles and family bereavement led me to volunteer with Norfolk Wildlife Trust and then the County Wildlife Recorders, as I knew I’d always loved being outside. I got a job working as an Allotments Officer for Norwich City Council, and then realised I wanted to work in a wildlife focused career, ideally with a focus on climate change. In the beginning I was quite disheartened as I kept missing out on roles to people with more direct experience, but during the pandemic and after a house move I was able to volunteer with the South West Peak Landscape Project, and finally got my job working for the Yorkshire Peat Programme!
A common misconception about my role is that it’s just spreadsheets! People assume an admin role is all desk-based but working for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust I have been able to use the organisation skills I already have while building up my skills by helping out other team members assisting with surveying days and joining them on training sessions. It’s great to have the opportunity to do both!
When you look at other people’s lives it can seem like they’ve followed a clear trajectory to get to where they want to be, but you can’t see all the times they didn’t succeed, the things they’ve had to give up to focus on what they wanted, or the support they’ve had to get there. There is always also an element of luck which you can’t control about opportunities that come up at the right time for you. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get where you want to straight away.
I’m emotionally driven and I need to feel like I’m making a positive impact with my work. I need to work with similarly minded people who can geek out with me about the things I love. I’m a big supporter of ‘Everybody Outdoors’, a campaign to raise awareness of clothing, gear and representation for plus size bodies in the outdoors.
My team and I look after 21 nature reserves in South Yorkshire. I get out onto sites regularly into order to do practical management, including looking after our livestock that graze our nature reserves, inspecting sites and planning how their specific habitats or wildlife will be best supported.
I went to university, but part way through a degree in politics decided it wasn’t for me. I started to volunteer with local conservation groups, and then did a master’s degree in environmental management. I continued to volunteer and do some training alongside part time jobs for a couple of years before getting my first job managing nature reserves in the Peak District. My interest in nature has deepened over time; I started off being very interested in mushrooms and fungi but soon added interests in plants, moths, water beetles and more! A common misconception about my role is that I spend all my time outside. I spend a lot of time in the office, there is a lot of paperwork associated with owning land, getting subsidies for managing land in a positive way for wildlife and for seeking funding to do even more work for wildlife.
It’s a hard task to get into wildlife conservation; there is a lot to learn, and for nature reserve jobs lots of qualifications (eg. chainsaw, brushcutter, first aid) to do. But you can only get there by taking one step at a time, such as taking the opportunity to do First Aid training, learning to lay a hedge or how to identify plants.
Having a passion for wildlife, being a naturalist in my spare time as well as a professional conservationist, really helps to motivate me. It can be daunting to learn a new group of wildlife (I challenged myself to learn about moths during lockdown), but you can join a natural history society like BSBI, Yorkshire Naturalists Union or Doncaster Naturalists, and they will help you. They will teach you things (sometimes it’s just how to look for things!), tell you which books or equipment you might need, and help to check you’ve identified things correctly. You can teach yourself things too, but even to go out once or twice a year with like-minded people is a great experience.
I am responsible for responding to planning applications, giving feedback on anything related to ecology; bird surveys, bat surveys and advising on any protected sites close to the development area which might require protection.
I studied Geography and Biology at A level. I then studied Human Geography and Town Planning at university. I worked as a Planning Officer for a local authority in West Yorkshire for three years. I had a desire to do more to ensure nature is protected from harmful development, and this is what led me to my current role at the Trust.
A common misconception about my role is that many people think that I’m here to object to every development proposed, but that’s not true. It is very rare that we will object to an application and often we will speak to developers about our concerns and work with them to make a development more beneficial to wildlife.
My advice is to study something that you find interesting, not just something that others expect you to study or tell you will get you a good job. You have to have passion for what you do otherwise it will become a chore. If you find something you are passionate about then don’t be afraid to pursue it, learn more about it and find a way to get involved. Maybe try volunteering for a while to test the waters and see how a job feels.
A bit about me: I enjoy playing Table Top RPGs in my spare time like Dungeons and Dragons, and crocheting clothes.
Hi everyone, I’m Bailey and I’m the Campaigns Officer at Essex Wildlife Trust. It’s my job to develop and lead campaigns that inspire people and encourage everyone to take action for nature. I absolutely love my job and worked hard to get here, achieving a degree in geography and then gaining valuable experience in environmental campaigning and work experience on a nature reserve. You might think that my role would involve a lot of protests and petitions which sometimes it does but most of our campaigns encourage small actions that we can all take to help our precious wildlife recover such as sowing wildflower seeds or building a hedgehog house.
My advice for any young person starting their career in conservation is to never stop learning. You are bound to meet some really passionate and knowledgeable people, ask them questions and write down new things you learn to help you remember. That is one of my favourite parts of working within wildlife, there is always a new species to discover or spectacle to experience.
My role at Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust is Individual Giving Lead, which sits in the fundraising team. I work closely with our members and donors to raise vital funds needed to help wildlife in my county. Day to day, I act as a main point of contact for our supporters and communicate how their donations are making a difference for wildlife. From writing newsletters to organising special walks on our nature reserves, my job is varied and involves working with a wonderful variety of people.
A common misconception is that you must go down the traditional science route to have a meaningful career in conservation. In reality, so many skills are needed to make a difference for our natural world – think outside the box! I studied English & History at University and worked as a scuba diving instructor in Asia for many years before my fundraising career at a Wildlife Trust began. Whilst I love nature and the outdoors, it was my communication skills and passion for working with people that landed me the role.
I am a Community Organiser for Kent Wildlife Trust. My role is to help communities take action for nature. My background is in Youth Work. I think a common misconception is that our role is about putting on events for people, when actually it’s about listening to communities and helping them to plan and deliver their own projects in the places that they live and work.
I would advise talking to people in conservation and asking how they got started. I don’t come from a traditional conservation background. I nearly didn’t apply for my current role as I thought I wasn’t experienced enough, I also thought that as a person with disability, that I might have additional barriers but when I spoke to the Wilder Engagement Manager for Kent Wildlife Trust I was encouraged to apply as my skills and experiences were valuable.
My role as Seasonal Engagement Officer involves hosting school and family visits on our reserves as well as getting involved in external events. The role of our team is to inspire these groups to take action for nature and get them excited about wildlife.
Although I have always been interested in nature and wildlife, I chose to study Geography and International Development at university – which I loved, but it didn’t have much of environmental focus. After working several retail and catering jobs I then got a role at the local Council as part of their Recycling Team. This really encouraged me to work within the environmental sector, I felt like I was making a difference and I really enjoyed the community engagement aspect of this role. So, despite not having specific training in the conservation field, I have been able to gain experience through previous jobs and volunteering to gain more knowledge about the sector.
I think one misconception about my role would be that you have to know everything about wildlife and the sites you work in and around. I think a passion and interest in the field is the best place to start. I have gained such a wealth of knowledge during my current role – which has been the best way for me to learn. Be persistent with your career aspirations and remember that any job you have will give you invaluable skills, even if it’s not directly related to the field you want to work in. Take any opportunities that come your way, whether that be training, volunteering or learning. Nurture and enjoy your interests outside of work and school, as this will set you in good stead for whatever career path you choose.
Rangers are the eyes and ears of the National Park, and the role is very public facing. Duties include visiting key sites to provide face-to-face contact with members of the public, helping them to enjoy understanding and benefit from the National Park.
Hayden finished a degree in photography but was unsure of what to do next. She saved up some money and volunteered on a turtle conservation project which led to paid seasonal roles abroad in Malaysia, Ascension Island and the Caribbean.
She then completed a 13-month apprenticeship with the New Forest National Park Authority, which included further qualifications and five placements with partner organisations.
From there she secured her first permanent paid role as an Assistant Ranger at Lepe Country Park and now has her dream role as North Area Ranger at the NPA.
The main thing she loves about her role is meeting people from all different backgrounds and finding out what they love about the outdoors.
Her main advice is to ‘listen to everything and don’t be worried about what you don’t know yet – it will come with time.’
Duties include external and internal communications. This takes many forms, from video & photo to social media, written blogs and news releases.
Chris studied BA Hons in Sports Journalism. Has worked abroad, as well as in multiple temporary roles. His last role was as a café/restaurant manager.
The main thing Chris likes about the role is the feeling of doing good and that our messages can make a difference!
One bit of advice he would give is, ‘to build your skills in your spare time towards the career you want.’
Duties include assisting in the conservation and understanding of the New Forest National Park’s built heritage through the planning system and informal advice and project work. As well as structuring negotiations to achieve a compromise between owner requirements and conservation objectives and reviewing and revising the listed building condition survey and monitoring the condition of listed buildings.
Emily studied History, Archaeology and Chemistry at A Level (Religious Studies at AS level). Completed a joint honours Batchelor of Arts Degree in History and Archaeology, and a Master of Arts Degree in Conservation Studies.
Emily’s job allows her to combine a lot of her interests. She also gets to see historic houses up close in ways most would not have the opportunity to do e.g. going up on the scaffold during works.
She said: ‘The heritage sector is really interesting to be a part of, but you don’t have to be really academic to be part of it.
‘The heritage sector would not run without any of the skilled craftspeople and builders, so if you are interested in practical things look into scholarships and apprenticeships, because there are lots available through Historic England, the Churches Conservation Trust, SPAB, the Prince’s Trust and Heritage Crafts, National Trust, English Heritage, Historic Royal Palaces etc.’
Duties include running the rides and events, organising and taking bookings, managing training seasonal staff and volunteers, as well as writing operating procedures and risk assessments.
Gareth has worked in Outdoor Education for 26 years, after gaining a GNVQ in Leisure in Tourism. Most of Gareth’s skills and qualifications have come through work rather than university.
The best thing about Gareth’s job is meeting so many different people from different walks of life, enabling them to achieve things they may not have thought they could, and doing it in the great outdoors.
His main bit of advice is, ‘to follow your heart and not your bank balance. The best jobs are those that enhance your life, not take away from it.’
Duties include working with families on campsites, ground-nesting bird patrols, as well as supporting the pony drifts and deer ruts.
This role was a career change for Katie, she previously worked in accountancy and completed her professional qualifications working in practice. However, she never really enjoyed the work and decided to pursue her love of the sea and do something more meaningful and embarked on a marine biology degree.
Katie loves being outside lots of the time and how varied her role is. She has a real passion for education, so loves that her role is predominantly about providing knowledge and increasing awareness on various issues to do with the National Park.
Her advice is to ‘be determined and follow your dreams as much as possible. There are times when we all have to be sensible and of course, need a secure income but giving yourself the opportunity to truly enjoy your work is so worthwhile.’
Duties include pre-applications, fielding general enquiries and recommending planning applications.
Claire is a geographer at heart and studied it at university. She also volunteered with her local Steering Group which led to her gaining experience in the Planning Department at her local council. The National Park Authority has since supported her in further developing her skills through an MSc in Spatial Planning and Development.
Claire enjoys the variety of being in the office as well as being out and meeting and negotiating with applicants to protect the National Park’s landscape, heritage, ecology, and the vitality of local communities.
Her advice is: ‘No one is perfect; we all make mistakes. It is how we grow, progress and learn from them that matters.’
Duties include ensuring that people know how to care for the Forest whilst also enjoying it.
Alistair completed a degree in Chemistry and undertook some woodland management volunteering. He has a keen interest in conservation.
He loves the huge variety of tasks, being outdoors, meeting different people and working in one of the most beautiful and interesting places in the UK.
His key bit of advice is: ‘Don’t worry if you get a bit lost in the National Park, it’s one of the best ways to explore new places!’
Duties include running the ICT helpdesk, dealing with user issues and queries, and fixing endpoint devices (PCs, laptops, workphones etc.)
Sam originally applied for a temporary unrelated job at the NPA and then demonstrated the skills required to move into his current role.
The main thing he loves about his role is that he gets to meet and interact with all members of staff, across all departments.
His advice is: ‘Get a summer/part time job if you can. I didn’t and feel like I missed out on a lot of skills that would have helped when I got my first job.’