Research is the basis of conservation science. Our scientists study the natural sciences like biology, entymology, ornithology, ecology, and more and are recognized as some the foremost authorities in their respective fields.From keeping up with relevant books and papers to working in laboratories and in the field, a career in research and science takes education and dedication.
Learn more about the fields of biology, botany, cartography, and geographic information systems.
Field: Fishery and Wildlife Management
As the fisheries biologist's name implies, this scientist studies and evaluates living things found in streams, rivers, and lakes (as opposed to marine biologists, who work in the seas). These professionals constantly monitor our water resources to determine if they are being overused or endangered and they also assess damage caused by hazards such as oil spills or general pollution. Fisheries biologists police the waters and protect its inhabitants by enforcing laws like the Endangered Species Act. Fisheries biologists do indeed get their hands (and more) wet working on location, but they also spend time indoors writing reports, working in a lab, and teaching.
- Educational Requirements: minimum of a bachelor’s degree in biology; master’s and doctorate degrees strongly recommended for higher-level scientist and teaching positions
- Necessary Skills: strong background in math and science; love of the outdoors; research, analysis, and writing skills
- Related Careers: fish hatchery worker, marine biologist, wildlife biologist
Field: Biology and Marine Resource Management
As the name implies, this scientist can study every aspect of the sea, from coral reefs and marine mammals to fishery management. Marine biologists monitor the sea's resources to determine if they are being overused or are endangered. Not only do they research specific species and ecosystems throughout the sea, they also act as policemen, clarifying who and what are exploiting marine resources, helping to determine what management practices can best sustainably use or protect the sea.
- Educational Requirements: minimum of a bachelor's degree in biology, marine biology, oceanography, or another marine science; master's and doctorate degrees strongly recommended for higher-level scientist and teaching positions
- Necessary Skills: strong background in math and science; love of the sea and marine life; strong research, analysis, and writing skills; SCUBA certification a plus
- Related Careers: fisheries biologist, oceanographer, wildlife biologist
BIO & CHAT: Meet Sheila McKenna, one of CI's Senior Research Scientists and Marine Biologists and read her online chat about cultural traditions and conservation
Field: Natural Resource and Wildlife Management
Wildlife biologists combine a love of the outdoors with great research and analytical skills. They study species survival and growth rates, interactions between wildlife and their ecosystems, and predict what factors are influencing and exploiting natural resources. They apply ecological principles with their research to determine best management practices. Much of their time is spent doing field work outside; however, writing scientific reports and articles is also a key part of their job.
- Educational Requirements: minimum of a bachelor's degree in biology, wildlife biology, or ecology; master's and doctorate degrees strongly recommended for higher-level scientist and teaching positions
- Necessary Skills: strong background in math and science; strong research, analysis, and writing skills; love of the outdoors
- Related Careers: marine biologist, fisheries biologist, park ranger, ecologist
Q & A: Learn more about the work of Lu Zhi, director of the CI affiliate Shanshui Center for Nature & Society in China and one of the world’s top experts on panda conservation Botanist
Field: Botany and Horticulture
Botanists do more than work in nurseries and gardens. They research and study the biology of plants, from tiny organisms to massive trees. Identifying new plant species and protecting plant habitats from urban development and harmful contaminants are priorities for botanists. Because botany is a broad field, many professionals specialize in areas such as biochemistry, ecology, horticulture, and genetics. Botanists' work can take them into the depths of a forest, throughout a public park, or simply inside a laboratory.
- Educational Requirements: minimum of a bachelor's degree in botany or biology; advanced degree required for higher-level positions
- Necessary Skills: knowledge of ecosystems; love of plants and working with hands; proficiency in research, experimentation, analysis, documentation, and teaching
- Related Careers: horticulturist, forester, soil scientist, nursery owner/manager, organic farmer, landscape architect
Cartography is the art of making maps. Over time, cartographers have evolved from detailed illustrators to sophisticated technical analysts. Using advanced computer tools, cartographers input and analyze geographic map data and chart the movement of wildlife, the progression of erosion, and the precise locations of plant species. Cartographers are meticulous, analytical professionals who work indoors at a computer. They generate charts and reports and share their findings with government agencies, policy developers, and environmental groups, among other organizations.
- Educational Requirements: minimum of a bachelor's degree in geography or geology, with a concentration in mathematics or computer science
- Necessary Skills: strong computer, research, analysis, and data management skills; documentation and communications skills
- Related Careers: geographic information system specialist
VIDEO: Watch an account from an aerial survey specialist
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Specialist
In an era of digital information, GIS specialists are highly desired because they integrate geographic, cartographic, and technologic data to reveal environmental trends and risks. Using advanced computer software and 3-D modeling techniques, GIS specialists compile data and reference it with other information (such as demographic statistics). Detailed maps, charts, and graphs are generated and analyzed to identify environmental issues of interest to government agencies, environmental groups, or corporations. GIS specialists are detail-oriented, analytical professionals who work indoors at a computer.
- Educational Requirements: minimum of a bachelor’s degree in geography, with a concentration in geographical information systems, mathematics, or computer science
- Necessary Skills: in-depth knowledge of geography and cartography; background in math and computer science; research, evaluation, and analysis skills; communications skills
- Related Careers: cartographer, database analyst or manager
<< Career Ideas Overview | Business and Economics Careers >>