What employment sector do you work in?
How long have you had a green job for nature?
£30,001 – £40,000
Please describe the work that you do.
Since February of 2023, I’ve worked as a Senior GIS Technician within RSPB’s Business Conservation Advice Team. Our team works closely with RSPB’s business partners to advise them on improving the land they own or manage for wildlife. My role is to support colleagues with spatial analysis and producing maps and reports; I also currently manage three volunteers. Projects range from habitat mapping as part of the Nature After Minerals project to surveying solar farms.
What do you most like about your job? Any dislikes?
I enjoy the variation and RSPB is an excellent organisation to work for. Everyone is here because they’re passionate about helping wildlife and helping to resolve the ongoing climate and ecological crisis. It is a big organisation though so sometimes it is tricky to know what other teams are up to.
What inspired you into this career?
Since leaving school my ambition has been to work in ecology and conservation. I have always been interested in science and had an awareness of climate change and biodiversity loss since I was in primary school. I was pretty active with Greenpeace as a teenager. It has been a long-term aim since finishing my first degree in 2011 to work for a conservation NGO.
Have you faced any challenges in progressing your career so far?
There’s quite a high bar for entry to a career in ecology and conservation, particularly for anything technical or science-focused. It wasn’t until 18 months after completing my master’s at Edinburgh University that I secured my first Ecology job with a small consultancy called Direct Ecology Ltd. This was great but for some clients, it did feel like we were more there to tick a box than actually make a significant difference to the ecological outcome. I only secured this job with RSPB after finishing a relevant PhD.
What education/training did you have?
My first degree was a degree in Ecology and Conservation at the University of Sussex (2008 – 2011) shortly followed by a master’s at the University of Edinburgh in Ecosystem Services (2012 – 2014). Alongside studying and working part-time to fund myself I did lots of volunteering. The volunteering included reserve management, an internship with the Scottish Wildlife Trust and volunteering as a recorder for the BTO on the BBS and WEBS schemes.
By scrimping together the pennies I also self-funded my way through various CIEEM and BTO courses until I secured my first job at Direct Ecology where I had the chance to undertake more training and apply for Associate Membership of CIEEM. I then went on to study for a PhD in which I used GPS tracking data to understand where birds are most at risk of collision with wind farms and power lines within Europe.*
*(An example of the work I undertook can be found on the Applied Ecologists blog).
What advice would you give to someone coming into the profession?
Persistence is key!
Also, try to stack things in your favour: join CIEEM and/or BES, attend conferences and try to find a mentor. Consultancy is a great environment to build your skills so is worth considering even if your long-term aim is to work for an NGO or in a more research-focused environment.