Entering the ecology and environmental management sector as a career changer can have its own unique challenges, but also some benefits as you are already used to working, as opposed to some recent graduates.
Things to consider:
- Do your research – what roles are available, where are they, what are the working hours and conditions and what skills, knowledge and experience do you need?
- Consider if you will need to take a pay cut. You may have been working in your current job for a number of years so changing careers, you may need to start a lower pay scale until you have gained more relevant experience.
- Think about skills you gained in your previous career and how they can be applied to a job in the sector and make sure to highlight these transferable skills on your CV and covering letters.
- Identify any skills and knowledge gaps. Make a list of skills and knowledge needed in most job descriptions of your target job and find the ones you lack. Being aware of this means you can improve those areas, either with formal training or informal research at home and volunteering. Examples of skills that may be asked for could include a driving license, species ID and surveying skills and/or others, depending on the role in question.
- Sign up for free resources such as newsletters from key organisations, attend free webinars and open days, maybe join a local volunteering project to gain experience and insights into the sector. You could even reach out to some organisations and see if you can do some job shadowing.
- Attend training courses such as those offered by bodies such as CIEEM and many conservation agencies and training providers.
- Join a relevant professional body such as CIEEM.
- Do some volunteering as this shows you are committed and passionate about the sector, gives you an idea of what kind of work you may enjoy, and provides you valuable knowledge and experience that might otherwise require training by prospective employers. Have a look at work experience for more on this.
- If a job opportunity is not near where you live, then consider what the commute might be and if you may even need to relocate for work. Consider what would the impact of this would be on you and your work/home life.
- Make sure you know what you are signing up for. Consider how the change of career will fit around your other life commitments such as children and pets. Have a look at our top tips for working in the sector
- Explore the range of resources available to help you.