Typically, researchers will have particular areas of research interest or expertise. The outcomes of the research can be used to influence evidence-based policy, inform habitat and species management approaches, and support the production of guidance for those working ‘on the ground’.
Researchers work in academic institutions, for NGOs, in the public sector, and less commonly in the private sector and industry.
Read more below for information and examples of research roles across the different employment sectors or browse all research-related job profiles.
Working in an academic setting as a researcher will typically mean working for a university or research institution and publishing papers in academic journals. This is a broad set of roles and can be catered to your particular interests, from conservation genetics and animal behaviour to pollution pathways and sustainable farming, climate change and green energy, or social science topics such as public engagement with nature.
Public Sector Researcher
Public sector researchers will be working for government bodies, such as the Environment Agency and the Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs. This will be research into areas that will benefit the public. This could be social research, lab- or field-based, or operational research into things such as policy and simulating certain situations (modelling).
Private Sector Researcher
Private sector researchers do research for companies. While this is usually related to their product/service, this can still be meaningful research that can be published and used to inform further study. Environmental technologies and sustainable energy are common areas of research in this sector. There are also private research consultants that may contract you to work for a range of public sector and NGO organizations.
An NGO researcher can cover a wide range of fields depending on the focus of the organization. Wildlife conservation charities may conduct studies tracking the movement of different animal species, and documenting vegetation, while other environmental NGOs may be looking at things such as air pollution rates or plastic pollution levels to name just a couple of areas.
Industry researchers may fill a similar role to ecologists, investigating the industry impacts and how to minimize them. Common jobs here involve testing of water, air and soil samples, data analysis, and modelling (making predictions based on available data).
- Tip: as you discover the environmental sector, try looking into different areas of research such as some of the examples above, as research areas in the environment can vary greatly.
- Find examples of environment-related academia roles and further information on these on Lantra’s Land-Based Careers Hub — e.g. Botanist or Biologist (external links)