Conservation Biologist Career Profile

Do you want to work as a Conservation Biologist?

READ: This page helps you read about the career and the information you need to decide 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.

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06 November 2023

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What is a Conservation Biologist?

A conservation biologist focuses on the protection and preservation of natural Biodiversity, ecosystems, and the species that they contain.

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Alternative Careers

Although biologists may specialise in specific fields, OZT discusses only a few of the profiles. Besides Conservation Biologists, the other three are:

Click on the one you want to read up on.

Career Categories

The conservation biologist falls within the following career categories:

  • Marine Conservation
  • Wildlife Conservation
  • Specialists


Conservation biologists can choose to specialise in one specific species

Interesting fields?

Restoration biologists can also specialize in the field of study, such as working with biomimicry

What does a Conservation Biologist do?

Groups of animals a Conservation Biologist works with

Mammals List Icon OZT
Birds List Icon OZT
Fish List Icon OZT
Reptiles List Icon OZT
Amphibians List Icon OZT
Insects List Icon OZT
Arachnids List Icon OZT
Crustaceans List Icon OZT
Mollusks Link Icon OZT
Myriapods List Icon OZT
Cnidaria Icon 2

What is the level of Interaction with the Animals?

What does a Conservation Biologist focus on?


Conservation biologists focus on the preservation of biodiversity, ecosystems, and species. They aim to protect and manage natural resources sustainably.


They analyse threats to various species and habitats, including habitat loss, climate change, Invasive species, and overexploitation. They work on developing and implementing strategies to mitigate these threats.


Conservation biologists often engage in research, data collection, and monitoring to understand the factors impacting biodiversity. They collaborate with governments, organisations, and local communities to create and implement conservation plans and policies.


Their primary goal is to protect the Environment and wildlife, ensuring the sustainability of ecosystems and species for future generations.

What are the daily tasks of a Conservation Biologist?

The daily tasks of a Conservation Biologist can vary based on their specific role, the organisation they work for, or the particular project they’re involved in. Here are some common tasks that a conservation biologist might perform on a daily basis:

Research and Data Analysis:

  • Conducting field research to gather data on wildlife, ecosystems, or habitats.
  • Analysing collected data to understand population trends, biodiversity, or environmental factors affecting species or habitats

Monitoring and Surveys:

  • Conducting surveys and monitoring programmes to track changes in populations, habitats, or ecosystems over time.
  • Using tools like GPS, radio telemetry, and camera traps to monitor wildlife movement and behaviour

Report Writing and Documentation:

  • Documenting and summarising research findings, field observations, and data analysis in reports or scientific papers
  • Creating proposals for conservation projects or grants to fund conservation efforts

Collaboration and Communication:

  • Collaborating with other biologists, researchers, government agencies, and local communities to plan and implement conservation projects
  • Communicating findings and conservation strategies to stakeholders, such as government officials, NGOs, or the public.

Fieldwork and Habitat Restoration:

  • Participating in fieldwork to implement conservation or restoration projects, such as reforestation, invasive species removal, or habitat restoration efforts
  • Implementing conservation strategies aimed at protecting Endangered species or critical habitats

Policy and Advocacy:

  • Contributing to the development of conservation policies and advocating for environmental protection and wildlife conservation.
  • Working with policymakers and stakeholders to influence decisions that impact conservation efforts

Education and Outreach:

  • Engaging in educational outreach programmes to raise awareness about conservation issues among local communities, schools, or the general public
  • Conducting workshops, seminars, or presentations to promote conservation and environmental stewardship.

Adaptation and Planning:

  • Adapting conservation strategies based on new scientific findings or changes in environmental conditions, including climate change
  • Creating long-term conservation plans or strategies to address evolving environmental challenges

Grant Writing and Fundraising:

  • Seeking funding opportunities and writing grant proposals to support conservation projects
  • Managing budgets and resources for conservation programmes and ensuring funds are allocated effectively

Daily tasks can vary widely based on the specific focus area within conservation biology, whether it’s wildlife conservation, Ecosystem preservation, or specific species management. Conservation biologists often have a dynamic and multifaceted role, balancing fieldwork, research, communication, and advocacy efforts to protect biodiversity and promote sustainable practices.

In which environment does a Conservation Biologist work?

What are the environment and places of employment like?

Environment –

The balance between indoor and outdoor work for a conservation biologist can vary significantly based on various factors, including the specific job role, the stage of a project, seasonal variations, and the focus of their research or conservation efforts. Outdoor work entails actual field work and surveys, while indoor work comprises analysis of data and planning. 

Places of Employment:

Conservation biologists can find employment in various sectors and institutions dedicated to environmental protection, biodiversity conservation, and ecosystem management. Some of the basic places of employment for conservation biologists include:

Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs):

  • Organisations like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, and others focus on conservation efforts, wildlife protection, and environmental advocacy.

Government Agencies:

  • Departments and agencies responsible for environmental management, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), or state wildlife and natural resource departments

Research Institutions and Universities:

  • Conservation biologists often work in research institutions or universities, conducting scientific research, contributing to conservation programmes, and educating future conservation professionals.

Zoos, Aquariums, and Wildlife Parks:

  • These institutions often employ conservation biologists to manage breeding programmes, conduct research, and develop conservation initiatives for endangered species.

Conservation and Environmental Consulting Firms:

  • Companies specialising in environmental impact assessments, conservation planning, and ecosystem management often employ conservation biologists for consulting services.

Wildlife Rehabilitation Centres:

  • Places that focus on rescuing and rehabilitating injured or orphaned wildlife might hire conservation biologists to oversee rehabilitation programmes and contribute to the release of rehabilitated animals.

International and Intergovernmental Organisations:

  • Organisations such as the United Nations, IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), and various intergovernmental bodies that work on global conservation issues often employ conservation experts.

Non-profit Foundations and Trusts:

  • Charitable foundations and trusts focused on environmental conservation and wildlife protection often hire conservation biologists to manage conservation projects and initiatives.

Natural Resource Management Agencies:

  • Organisations managing public lands, forests, and natural resources might employ conservation biologists to develop and implement sustainable management plans.

Environmental Education and Outreach Organisations:

  • Institutions involved in environmental education, awareness, and outreach programmes often hire conservation biologists to educate the public about conservation issues.

Employment opportunities for conservation biologists can vary widely, offering diverse roles in research, fieldwork, policy development, project management, education, and more. The focus of their work can range from local community conservation efforts to global biodiversity protection initiatives.

What is the Average Salary for a Conservation Biologist?

Salaries for conservation biologists can vary significantly based on factors like experience, education, specific roles, and the cost of living in different countries.

Here’s an approximate range of average salaries for conservation biologists in certain countries, but these figures can fluctuate widely:


  • Average Salary: $45,000 to $80,000 per year.


  • Average Salary: CAD 45,000 to CAD 75,000 per year.

South America: (Varies significantly by country)

  • Average Salary: Can range from $15,000 to $40,000 per year, depending on the country and specific role.


  • Average Salary: £25,000 to £45,000 per year.

Europe: (Varies by country)

  • Average Salary: €25,000 to €55,000 per year.


  • Average Salary: NGN 1,800,000 to NGN 3,000,000 per year.


  • Average Salary: KES 800,000 to KES 1,500,000 per year.

South Africa:

  • Average Salary: ZAR 250,000 to ZAR 500,000 per year.

Asia: (Varies significantly by country)

  • Average Salary: Can range from $15,000 to $40,000 per year, depending on the country and specific role.


  • Average Salary: AU$50,000 to AU$90,000 per year.

New Zealand:

  • Average Salary: NZ$45,000 to NZ$80,000 per year.

These figures are approximate and may vary based on the level of experience, the specific organization, the cost of living in the region, and the demand for conservation professionals in each area. Additionally, individuals with advanced degrees or specialized skills might earn salaries at the higher end of these ranges. Also, salaries in the non-profit sector or government agencies might differ from those in the private sector.

Can a Conservation Biologist be promoted?

In the field of conservation biology, career advancement and promotion can occur at several levels, often based on increased experience, education, and demonstrated skills.

Career progression in conservation biology is not strictly linear, and there may be lateral movements across roles or a shift into more specialised areas based on expertise. Advancement often involves gaining advanced degrees and certifications, building a solid track record of success in managing conservation projects, conducting influential research, and demonstrating leadership abilities. Additionally, participation in professional societies, publications, and ongoing professional development is critical for career growth in the field.

Here are the basic levels of promotion that conservation biologists might progress through:

Entry-level Biologist

Newly graduated individuals often start in entry-level positions, conducting fieldwork, data collection, and assisting in research or conservation projects.

Biologist/Field Biologist

As experience grows, individuals might move to more specialized roles as biologists. They might focus on specific species, habitats, or research areas, often taking on more responsibility in data collection and analysis.

Project Coordinator/Manager

With increased experience, professionals may advance to coordinating or managing specific conservation projects. This role involves overseeing field teams, managing project budgets, and coordinating various aspects of conservation efforts.

Senior Biologist/Conservation Scientist

Those with considerable experience and expertise might attain senior positions, where they lead research projects, develop conservation strategies, and contribute significantly to the design and implementation of conservation programs.

Program Director/Conservation Director

Individuals who have gained extensive experience and leadership skills may advance to directorial roles. They oversee entire conservation programs, manage teams, set organizational strategies, and establish partnerships with governmental bodies, NGOs, and other stakeholders.

Executive Leadership/Chief Conservation Officer

At the highest levels, some may attain executive leadership positions, such as Chief Conservation Officers. In these roles, they are responsible for overall strategic direction, organisational leadership, and high-level decision-making.

What difficulties does a Conservation Biologist face?

  • Biologists might need to work with animals that can get stressed and difficult to handle.
  • They might need to work long hours
  • Field work could mean extensive travelling and working in remote terrain and rough weather

Future Growth and Possibilities of the Career

Jobs in this field are limited and competition is strong. Annual growth is around 5% per year.

New possibilities are opening for biologists with a focus on conservation education and restoring marine ecosystems.

Job Availability


Which Skills do Conservation Biologists need?

The skills required for a career as a Conservation Biologist 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
  • animal care
  • good coordination to 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 Conservation Biologist?

Minimum educational qualification

Typically, a bachelor’s degree is the starting point.

Many conservation biologists pursue a master’s or doctoral degree, especially for research or specialised roles. Advanced degrees might focus on conservation biology, environmental policy, or related fields.

Subject focus

Major – 

A degree in biology, ecology, environmental science, or a related field is the starting point. Courses might include ecology, genetics, environmental science, and conservation biology.

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. Focus on things that include field work and conservation.

Study duration

The duration of a Bachelor’s Degree can be between 3 and 4 years, with another 4 plus years for a Masters and 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 biologist will be acquired through practise. This means that you will learn how to perform some of the daily tasks by actually doing them a few times and learning the steps.

Apprenticeships are also possible where you need to learn skills from a more senior biologist.

Join the Conservation Biologists 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%

Licences, Certifications, Registrations and Professional Associations

For conservation biologists, various licences, certifications, registrations, and memberships in professional associations can enhance their credentials and provide opportunities for networking, professional development, and staying updated on the latest trends and practises in the field. Here are some key licences, certifications, registrations, and associations relevant to conservation biologists:

Licences and Certifications:

  • Wildlife biologist certification:

Some countries or regions offer certification programmes specifically for wildlife biologists. For example, in the United States, the Wildlife Society offers certification for Wildlife Biologists (Certified Wildlife Biologist – CWB) after meeting specific education and experience requirements.

  • GIS Certification:

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) certification might be beneficial for conservation biologists involved in spatial analysis or mapping. There are various certifications available in GIS offered by organizations like the GIS Certification Institute.

  • Environmental Consultant Certification:

Conservation biologists working as environmental consultants may benefit from certifications like Certified Environmental Professional (CEP) or Certified Environmental Consultant (CEC), offered by relevant professional bodies.


  • Professional Biologist Registration:

Some regions or countries have boards or councils that register professional biologists. Registration as a Professional Biologist might be a requirement or enhance credibility in the field.

Professional Associations

TWS is an international organisation that offers networking opportunities, resources, and professional development for wildlife professionals.

SCB is a global network of conservation professionals offering conferences, publications, and resources focused on conservation research and practise.

ESA provides opportunities for ecologists and conservation scientists, offering publications, meetings, and professional development resources.

IUCN is a global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it, providing resources, publications, and networking opportunities.

ATBC focuses on tropical biology and conservation, offering conferences, networking, and publications on tropical conservation issues.

CI offers resources, publications, and career opportunities in conservation biology and environmental protection.

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 that offer courses in zoology and biology.

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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 Some career experience is necessary; otherwise, you won’t get the job!
  • Top-notch information on each of the different species you will work with
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