What can I do with my conservation biology degree?

Discover employment and further study opportunities that you could consider once you graduate with a Conservation Biology degree and learn how you can stand out to graduate employers.

We encourage you to:

  • undertake career planning and research
  • build your networks, meet employers and graduates
  • gain essential work experience during your course
  • attend career fairs and events
  • continually develop your skills and knowledge
  • get involved with relevant clubs and societies
  • visit the Careers Service for advice.

Knowledge and skills

Studying a degree in Conservation Biology you will develop an understanding of plant and animal biodiversity in the UK and abroad. The course will expand your knowledge in key areas such as population ecology, evolutionary processes, behavioural ecology, conservation genetics and habitat management, and will prime you for a career in ecology, conservation or environmental monitoring.

In addition to gaining subject-specific knowledge of conservation biological systems and concepts, you will develop a range of practical and technical skills and learn how to use specialist techniques and technical equipment. You will also develop more general skills, which are attractive to employers in all sectors. These include:

  • verbal communication skills developed through conveying complex scientific information and delivering presentations
  • written communication skills developed through regular submission of concise, coherent laboratory reports
  • teamworking and collaboration, through group projects, fieldwork and seminars
  • the ability to work independently on personal research projects
  • organisation and time management, through meeting course work deadlines
  • evaluating field work with data analysis using complex numeracy and maths
  • IT and computer literacy
  • problem-solving and creative thinking
  • project management though planning, delivering and assessing activities
  • self-reliance, initiative and business awareness.

Finally, students can also get involved with clubs and societies and enhance their transferable skills such as leadership, communication, teamwork and problem solving. The Students Union Environmental Society organises environmental talks, scenic walks on Dartmoor National Park, campaigns on local environmental issues, beach cleans and regular social events.

Career options

Employers of Conservation Biology graduates include:

  • Local authorities
  • Environment Agency (EA)
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
  • Environmental monitoring organisations
  • Environmental consultancies
  • Charitable trusts, such as Natural England, the regional Wildlife trusts and The National Trust.

You could also apply the broader skills developed during your degree to many other opportunities: it is estimated that although graduate employers often specify a minimum degree classification as part of their shortlisting, approximately 70% of graduate employers do not specify that you must have studied a particular subject to work for them. However, graduate employers do highly prize skills such as strategic planning, resilience under pressure, creative problem-solving and commercial awareness which are some of the key skills you can develop during your course. Therefore, you could use your degree to access work in a multitude of sectors or industries.

Researching your career options

With such a wide range of careers open to you as a conservation biology graduate, it is important to make sure you explore and research your options thoroughly so that you can make informed decisions about your future.    

Take a look at the Prospects, TargetJobs and the design association websites for inspiration:

There are many vacancy sites for environmental volunteering jobs, but the following also have paid graduate jobs across a range of related areas:

Employment Opportunities

Below is a snapshot of what some of University of Plymouth Conservation Biology graduates told us they were doing six months after graduation. For some graduates, these jobs serve as steppingstones to professional posts by providing relevant workplace experience.

  • Research Assistant Biologist
  • Ecologist
  • ILRC Coordinator
  • CAD Design Technician
  • Computer Aided Design Technician
  • DZP Ranger
  • Countryside Ranger Intern
  • Planning Officer
  • Entomologist
  • Junior Ecological Consultant

Employers

Further study

Some of the careers chosen by Conservation Biology graduates will require or benefit from further study, so this should be considered carefully. The University of Plymouth offers the following postgraduate study options related to conservation biology:  

You should consider the financial implications of further study as well as selecting a programme that suits your interests, learning style and future career direction. The following websites are a good starting point for exploring postgraduate options, but you may also benefit from talking to a Careers Consultant about your particular situation.  

Some useful websites to help you find a suitable post-graduate programme; 

Careers Service support

Accessing support from the Careers Service couldn’t be easier, come along to the Careers Service Helpdesk in the Student Hub or access our 24/7 online resources.

There is a wide range of support available from skills workshops to events, placements and internships advice, 1-2-1 appointments and help getting started with LinkedIn.

Our bite-sized Skills Workshops can give your career the boost it needs. Choose from a range of topics:

  • effective career planning
  • job hunting techniques
  • finding part-time work
  • CVs and interviews
  • mastering LinkedIn
  • and more.

Workshops are delivered by the Careers Service, however they are also an opportunity to learn from your peers, share experiences and ask questions. Visit myCareer to see the full range of activities and to book your place.

Connect with graduates

Build your network and job sector knowledge using LinkedIn’s alumni tool. This will allow you to see the career journeys of graduates from your programme, the qualifications they completed, the skills they developed and employers they worked for. You can then ‘connect’ with people of interest.

  • Search LinkedIn for ‘University of Plymouth’
  • click on ‘Alumni’
  • filter the results by subject, sector, company or location.

For more information about the alumni tool click on LinkedIn alumni tool guide. If you are looking for help to set up or learn how to make the most out of your LinkedIn profile, click on the LinkedIn guide for students or come to one of our workshops.

Other advice and guidance

Gain work experience

Undertaking work experience in your first and second years will help you stand out from the crowd when the time comes for you to complete applications for graduate employment and further study. Work experience develops valuable skills and qualities that employers are looking for and is essential for many roles. It can also help you to confirm or rule out particular career choices. Furthermore, experience in the workplace can bring you into contact with people who may be able to assist you at the beginning of your career.

You have plenty of options open to you. You could apply for a placement year, work part-time around your studies, undertake volunteering or approach organisations directly to negotiate short periods of work experience. Some organisations offer paid internships over the summer or of one year’s duration.

The University of Plymouth Students’ Union also offers a wide range of volunteering opportunities.

Clubs & Societies   

Engaging in a sport or society shows employers you are engaged and seek out opportunities, it also helps you improve your teamwork, communication and negotiation skills. Committee members develop leadership, diplomacy and organisational skills and will gain experience of meetings, handling funds, and society promotion

You may choose to join a society that is specifically linked to Conservation Biology such as the Environmental Society, or take the opportunity to explore the huge range of clubs, societies and sports, all of which can help you to broaden your horizons and explore new interests.

Tutor and academic support

Your tutor and other academic staff are an excellent source of support for your career development. They will have experience and contacts across industry and academia, so do approach them for advice and insights into careers you are considering. Your tutor will ultimately be writing references for your employment or further study applications, therefore establishing a positive relationship with this person is invaluable.