How to Become a Conservation Officer: Career Guide
Becoming a conservation officer requires determination and dedication, as this competitive job field is a highly demanding one both physically and mentally.
Although many employers (government agencies and departments) of conservation officers require some degree of education from their officers, educational qualification is typically not their primary concern. As conservation officers are the front-line men and women responsible for enforcing laws, employers need their officers to be physically and mentally fit, as well as be highly responsible and trustworthy.
Educational Requirements for Becoming a Conservation Officer
The educational requirements to become a conservation officer vary by region. Prospective conservation officers may or may not be required to hold a degree to get a job, however preference is typically given to candidates with a Bachelor’s degree in the following fields, from a recognized post-secondary institution:
• Criminal Justice
• Environmental Science
• Environmental Management
If you do not have a degree in one of these fields, volunteer or paid work experience in an area such as wildlife sciences, forestry, fisheries or other similar fields may qualify you for a job in place of an education, depending on the position and the employer.
Conservation Officer Job Description
Conservation officers are responsible for managing resources and overseeing maintenance and recreation in regional, provincial, state and federal parks. Conservation officers are also responsible for enforcing laws within the boundaries of the park. Conservation officers also educate the public about issues related to environmental conservation.
Conservation Officer Job Duties
• Offer assistance and information to park visitors
• Monitor and manage financial and natural resources
• Coordinate activities related to the suppression of forest fires
• Coordinate and oversee the repair and construction of facilities
• Assist in the continuing development of park management plans
• Check hunting, fishing, boating and other licenses
• Conduct search and rescue operations as necessary
• Investigate suspected violations and ensure guests and residents are compliant with laws and regulations
• Operate government vehicles
• Complete all necessary reports
• Prepare budget and operate within its restrictions
How to Get a Job as a Conservation Officer
Make a list of all of the government departments that are posting conservation officer jobs. Visit their websites and find out what the requirements of the positions are. You may need further education or training, or perhaps you meet all of the necessary qualifications.
With government departments, the more relevant training and experience you have listed on your resume, the better. Government positions are highly competitive and these departments are seldom interested in ‘on-the-job’ training.
If you have all of the necessary qualifying education and certification towards becoming a conservation officer, your next step is to submit your application.
Tip for success: Many government departments provide details of what attributes their ideal candidates will posses. Ensure your resume reflects the job posting!
Who Hires Conservation Officers?
Conservation officers are public sector employees that are responsible for the protection of our natural resources, and enforcing any applicable laws, as per municipal, provincial/state and federal legislation. Various government departments at all levels of government hire conservation officers. Examples of typical names for government agencies and departments that create conservation officer jobs and hire conservation officers include:
• Parks and Recreation Department (Municipal government)
• Ministry of Environment (Provincial Government)
• Department of Natural Resources (Federal Government)
• Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (Federal Government)
• Parks Canada (Federal Government)
Find Conservation Officer Job Postings
Conservation Officer Salary Information
Albertans working in the Conservation and Fishery Officers occupational group earned on average from $25.28 to $31.53 an hour according to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey. The mean wage for this occupational group was $29.21 an hour. It is difficult to determine a blanket salary for conservation officers in other jurisdictions, as reliable and consistent information is very difficult to come by.
Note: Salary levels can vary greatly for conservation officers, depending on the level of education and experience, who the employer is, and the amount of experience of the conservation officer.
Desirable Skills of Conservation Officer Candidates
The following is a list of attributes that may be a requirement of employment as a conservation officer. If they are not a requirement of employment, they are almost always considered excellent assets to have when applying for conservation officer jobs.
• Knowledge and experience in the field of natural resources management
• Knowledge of the legislation concerning natural resources management
• Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
• Posses analytical, investigative and intelligence gathering skills
• The ability to work with minimal supervision
• Proficiency in computer use,
• Able to safely handle firearms
• May need to be able to pass a swimming test
• May need to pass psychological evaluations and testing
• Volunteer experience in the community
• Work experience in a position involving responsibility and trust
• Work experience in a position involving significant interaction with the public
• Ability to speak and understand a second language
• Posses a valid driver’s license with a demonstrated record indicating safe and responsible vehicle operation
• First Aid and/or CPR certification
• Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) certification
Tip for Success: The more of these attributes you have, the greater an asset you will be to a potential employer!
Working Conditions for Conservation Officers
Work Environment: Conservation officers may work indoors, or outdoors, depending on the employer or even the duties for the particular day. The outdoor work of conservation officers may involve extreme weather conditions and rough terrain. Travel is often required in this job, typically by car or boat, but may include traveling by unconventional means such as horseback, snowmobile, canoe, helicopter and others.
Physical Demands: There is a degree of physical risk involved in a career as a conservation officer, capturing and handling animals and enforcing regulations can be quite dangerous. Light duty lifting (up to 20 pounds) is often required, and heavy lifting may also be required in some circumstances.
Hours of Work: Conservation officers typically work a variety of hours, often working evenings, weekends and holidays. Overtime may be required on short notice to respond to violations or events involving serious conflict between humans and wildlife.
Employment Advancement for Conservation Officers
As conservation officers gain more experience in their careers, they may be able to advance to supervisory or management positions. With additional training and education, experienced conservation officers may also be able to qualify for roles in policy and administration, such as Natural Resources Policy Analyst.
Careers Similar to Conservation Officer
Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Conservation Officer, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.
Conservation Officer Career: References
Please consult the references below for more information on 'becoming a conservation officer' and information on other aspects of a career as a conservation officer.
Alberta Learning and information Services website: alis.alberta.ca
British Columbia Ministry of Environment website: www.env.gov.bc.ca
Ontario Department of Natural Resources website: www.mnr.gov.on.ca
Scholarships for Becoming a Conservation Officer
The Applicable Majors section below shows fields of study relevant to a career as a Conservation Officer. You can search for scholarships matched to those fields of study on our All Scholarships by Major page.
Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!
Becoming a Conservation Officer: Applicable Majors
Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a Conservation Officer. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!