A job in conservation can take many different forms. You may be based entirely on a remote Scottish island counting puffins, working on a computer simulating predator and prey cycles or doing some combination of both fieldwork and deskjob in your own research. You could also take up a career in writing for a newspaper or blog, working in policy for the government or educate others. There are countless opportunities available if you know what to look for. Hopefully, these resources can offer a starting point to guide you on your journey. Below you will find out how to improve your writing skills, species identification, surveying skills and statistical skills. 

The content’s divided into following sections:

  1. Statistical skills
  2. Remote sensing and spatial analysis for ecology
  3. Report writing and scientific communication
  4. Species identification
  5. Survey techniques and ecological skills

Statistical skills:

  1. DataCamp 

Data Camp is a very easy-to-use site with courses to get you familiar with using R with a helpful tool that allows you to practice your code along the way.   

2. Quick-R by DataCamp  

Very simple layout and good for undergraduates and early career researchers alike.   

3. Data Science for Ecologists course
This is specifically for those in environmental/ecological research wishing to improve skills in R. It has tutorials from beginner level to more advanced analysis (Bayesian and even Stan!). You can pick and choose which tutorials would be the most useful and use their quizzes to test your expertise. The tutorials are really easy to follow and you can download all of the scripts to try for yourself.  

4. R4All books and courses

A great place to start your journey with R. Developed by a team of ecologists with a penchant for teaching, this book course is designed to flatten the steep R learning curve. Engaging, thorough and based on industry standards, it will take you from a complete beginner to proficient in data management and analysis.  

  1. LinkedIn Learning

Lots of courses available, including topics such as Science Communication, beginning Data Science or learning Python coding language. They are mostly business-orientated but provide really useful skills for careers in ecology and conservation.  

6. Intro2R

Intro2R is a free online textbook that takes you step-by-step through the basic of R and linear modelling. It is very clear and suitable for complete beginners. It also has links to exercises to accompany each topic to ensure you understand and process the material.

@Ilya Pavlov

Remote sensing and spatial analysis for ecology

Ecosens textbooks  

A suite of high quality textbooks on remote sensing and spatial analysis in ecology, from novice to advanced. Based entirely on open-source software, they’re great to guide your learning in this field. Highly recommended! 

Esri Training  

Mixture of free and paid courses, webinars, and introductions to ArcGIS software and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) more generally. 

There are so many free resources out there now, so do google if you’re looking for something specific and see what shows up. 

Report writing and scientific communication:

1. https://senseaboutscience.org/  

Sense about science is an independent charity that champions the public interest in sound science and ensures evidence is recognised in public life and policy making.  

  1. https://www.sciencemediacentre.org/  

This links science and scientists to the media, from press conferences on new discoveries to rapid responses to breaking news.  

  1. Mindful Scientific Writing  

The free starter kit for Mindful Scientific Writing provides advice, planners and support tools for successful scientific writing.  

Species identification

  1. https://www.birdid.no/bird/quiz/  
    This is a bird identification site from Nord University that allows you to get graded on your bird ID skills. This seems like an option for of getting a bird identification qualification, which may be looked upon preferentially in job applications that require this knowledge.   
  2. https://www.countryside-jobs.com/training/identification-and-field-survey-skills-plants-and-habitats  
    Good list of courses throughout the UK. Most are pretty reasonably priced if you are in the area.   
  3. https://www.mammal.org.uk/training/courses/  
    Want to know how to do bat surveys? How about counting voles or identifying predator presence via scats or prey remains? Look no further! This website offers a variety of different courses, both in-person and online.  
  4. https://www.field-studies-council.org/  
    Field Studies Council- educational charity running residential and non-residential field courses on field ID, photography and much more.  

@ May Gauthier

Survey techniques and ecological skills:   

Of course if you have the opportunity to get practical field experience by volunteering, work-shadowing or in a job, this is the best way to learn. However, this isn’t always an option and Covid-19 has hampered some of these in-person voluntary positions.  

Therefore, I have selected a few videos to demonstrate the huge variety of information and skills that can be learnt from youtube alone. These playlists are by no means comprehensive, but hopefully enough to get some of you started when you are not sure where to start.  Here are a few videos on QGIS, ecological concepts and some webinars. 

@Susan Smith

Conservation and ecology skills  

Plant ID how to identify plant species (UK)   

In addition, here is an overview from the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management about Ecology Field Skills and the levels required for related jobs. https://cieem.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Careers-Field_Ecology_Skills_Guide.pdf  

Transferable skills to bring to Conservation

Not everyone will have had the opportunity to gain experience in conservation, which may make you feel a bit stuck when filling in the ‘relevant experience’ section of an application. Not to worry! There are plenty of transferable skills you will have gained from other experiences that you can highlight in applications, in interviews, or on your CV.

10 key transferable skills:

  1. Communication
  2. Teamwork
  3. Flexibility
  4. Resilience
  5. Problem-solving
  6. Ability to work independently
  7. Physical fitness
  8. Organisation skills
  9. Leadership skills
  10. Creativity

Ways you could have got these skills:

  1. Part-time job at university
  2. Volunteering for a charity
  3. Writing or blogging
  4. Teaching or tutoring