Protected Species Observer Career Profile

Do you want to work as a Protected Species Observer?

READ: This page helps you to read about the career and the info you need to decide on whether this is indeed the career you want to follow.

RESEARCH: ​Learn about the skills required and minimum subjects to enter this career, as well as the places where you can study further after school.

PREPARE: If you want to plan and prepare for your career, then join the OZT Community! Members have access to tools while chatting with other students and experts from around the world. Prepare to be amazed!


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UPDATED: 23 May 2023

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What is a Protected Species Observer?

A Protected Species Observer monitors protected marine species where companies are active to determine the potential impacts on those protected species.

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The animals they work with include fish, marine mammals (dolphins, whales etc), reptiles (sea turtles), crustaceans and mollusks.

Alternative Names

The career might alsso be called:

  • Marine Mammal Observer

Career Categories

The Protected Species Observer falls within the following Career Categories:

  • Marine Conservation
  • Specialists

What does a Protected Species Observer do?

Groups of animals a Protected Species Observer works with

Mammals List Icon OZT
Fish List Icon OZT
Reptiles List Icon OZT
Crustaceans List Icon OZT
Mollusks Link Icon OZT

What is the level of Interaction with the Animals?

Even though PSO/MMOs mostly observes and captures data, they will need to handle marine life from time to time.

What does a Protected Species Observer focus on?

They will focus on working in teams that specialize in in-field environmental support by observing the animals and cupturing data.

The work will focus on field work, academic research, consulting, outreach or policy making.

What are the daily tasks of a Protected Species Observer?

  • Perform data collection, analysis, and reporting of ocean environmental processes
  • Consider the ecological, biological, chemical, physical, and geological impact on marine life
  • Monitor and record marine mammals and other protected species activity during marine activities to assist in protected species handling
  • Actively contribute to the development of method statements and other environmental plans to address protected species risks
  • Contribute to the development of and implement all aspects of a Protected Species Management Plan
  • Raise awareness on protected species
  • Complete daily protected species observation and monitoring
  • Compile relevant required reports
  • Work with environmental teams.

In which Environment does a Protected Species Observer work in?

What are the environment and places of employment like?

Environment –

Protected Species Observers  work primarily outdoors, but can spend time indoors loading data and writing reports.

Places of Employment –

Most Protected Species Observers work for construction companies, off-shore drilling or exploration companies, research institutions, academia, government, NGOs

What is the Average Salary for a Protected Species Observer?

The average annual salary of Protected Species Observers  is US$40,000 but will be different in other countries.

Can a Protected Species Observer be promoted?

Promotion to senior levels are available in most careers. The levels of each promotion might differ from organization to organization, but generally are the following for PSOs who work for an organization:

Junior or Intern -> Senior PSO -> Head of Department, Manager or Director

What difficulties does a Protected Species Observer face?

Protected Species Observers might need to work long hours at sea in rough weather.

Future Growth and Possibilities of the Career

Jobs in this field are limited and competition is strong. Annual growth is around 7% per year.

New possibilities are opening for Protected Species Observers with a focus on conservation education.

Availability of Jobs


Which Skills do Protected Species Observers need?

The skills required for a career as a Protected Species Observer can be divided into two very important groups. The first is the group containing life skills, which are the core skills that are necessary or desirable for full participation in everyday life. The second group is career skills, or the specific skills required to allow a person to enter and operate effectively within a specific career. Some or maybe even all of the life skills can assist in strengthening the career skills, and they might even be the same for specific careers.

Life Skills:

  • Self-awareness
  • Empathy
  • Critical thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • Decision making
  • Problem Solving
  • Effective communication
  • Interpersonal relationship
Life Skills

Career Skills:

  • animal handling
  • handle instruments
  • excellent physical health
  • basic customer service
  • computer literacy
Career Skills

Which Subjects must I have at School to help me prepare for this career?

The subjects you choose at school are important as they lay the foundation for further studies at college or university. While still at school, it’s also important to learn more about the animals you will work with, as well as gain some experience.

OZT has a list of various tertiary institutions where you can study further, after school. Each of these institutions also have their own Group page on OZT where you will find the exact subjects they require of you to have passed in school. Keep these requirements in mind, and discuss it with your school, guidance counselor and parents to ensure that you are prepared!

What will I need to Study to become a Protected Species Observer?

Minimum educational qualification

The minimum required qualification is a Bachelor’s Degree to enter the market and do basic field work.

Subject focus

Major – 

The most important subject to focus on will be zoology or ecology.

Short Courses –

It is important to try and complete as many short courses as possible. You might be allowed to do some of them while still in school or even while already working.

Study duration

The duration of a Bachelor’s Degrees can be up to 4 years, and another 4 years for a Doctorate. Short Courses are usually between a few weeks and a year.

​Possible Career Preparation Paths

If this is your dream career that you want to pursue, then it’s important to plan the way forward.

Why is planning important?

​To ensure that you understand the requirements for your career, and that you are always prepared for the next step on the road towards your dream. A Preparation Path is like your road map to where you want to be.

Possible Paths:

Possible Combined career paths:

It is possible to sometimes combine two or more related careers. This normally happens when you study and practice a specific main career, but the knowledge and experience gained also help you to have a paying hobby or secondary income career.

Possible Alternatives (there are a lot more):

Training and Apprenticeship

Even though it is important to study to get into some of the animal careers, most of the skills you will need as a PSO will be acquired through practice. This means that you will learn how to perform some of the daily tasks by actually doing it a few times and learning the steps.

Join the Protected Species Observers Group in the OZT Community to learn more and even interact with the educational institutions that will help you secure your dream career!

Average level of education of those entering the career:

High School Certificate 0%
Diploma or Short Courses 0%
Degree or Higher Studies 0%

Licenses, Certifications, Registrations and Professional Associations

Certain animal careers require some form of legal certification to prove that you can indeed do the work, and work with the necessary equipment.

A PSO will definitely need to be certified.

Ssome countries require their PSOs to be BOSIET (compulsory Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training) certified.

Learn more about requirements by joining the Community.

Professional Associations

Where can I study further?

All of the above information will help you understand more about the Career, including the fact that there are different paths to take to reach it. But if you are almost done with High School (Grades 11 or 12), you also need to start thinking about further studies, and WHERE you will study.

See the List of Universities, Colleges and Online Training Academies who offer courses towards zoology and biology.

Do you have information that you would like to contribute to this career profile? Please click on the red beetle to access the contribution form.

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Join the OZT community & career Group

Join us as a special member and learn more about becoming a Protected Species Observer.

Members of the Platform have special access to:

  • Info on the best places where you can study (colleges, universities and online)
  • Expertly designed advice to prepare you for the career, and links to places where you can gain valuable experience. For some career experience is necessary, otherwise you wont get the job!
  • Top notch info on each of the different species you will work with
  • Make friends around the world and share knowledge
  • Compete and win points, badges, games, prizes and certificates. Be the best of the best, while you learn and prepare!

If you have decided on being a Protected Species Observer, please click on the JOIN GROUP button. Members will be directed to the Group, while non-members will be assisted to register first.

If this career is NOT the career for you, then you may return to the MAIN CAREER menu, and search for something different.

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