This article was provided by Amy Worley, Features Commissioning Editor at Countryside Jobs Service (CJS). CJS produces the ‘CJS Focus’ online publication three times per year, each time focusing on a different area of the environmental sector. The latest edition, published 16th October 2023, focuses on Conservation Support Services — looking at the supporting roles in conservation and how to get into them. If you’re looking to get into the environmental sector to work in conservation, whether as a career changer, student or trainee, read on to find out more about how this edition of CJS Focus could interest you.

CJS Focus on Conservation Support Services: ‘It’s not all about the boots on the ground’

Here at CJS, we decided it was time to take a look at the many support services without which the conservation sector wouldn’t function. The jobs in these services vastly outnumber the boots-on-the-ground practical roles so it’s worth investigating whether you could use transferable skills to get a job in environmental protection.

This CJS Focus edition includes seven articles where industry professionals either tell you about their work and how to get a similar job or give hints and tips on how to secure the job you want.

The Value of Transferrable Skills

A smiling Jen. Image Credit: Jen Marshall

There is a real mix of people working in conservation support services because these roles don’t require a practical countryside qualification. Take, for example, Jen, who gained a degree in Stage Management and Technical Theatre from a leading drama school. Jen never thought she’d be where she is today, but the skills that she already had and the winding path her career has taken led to her becoming a Visitor Experience Manager at a country park. 

Jen believes her theatre background in no way held her back. On the contrary, she acknowledges how useful her varied, transferable skills are. “[Working] with a varied range of people, creative organisation, creative engagement, working on a wing and a prayer, expecting the unexpected, listening to the audience, making a lot from very little, the list goes on.”

Groundwork on Project-Based Work

Groundwork is a huge employer in the environmental sector. Many of the roles are project-based. These are often short-term contracts, although this works for those who want to be flexible and for those who want to experience different types of work to find what area they’d like to settle into. The added benefit of project work at one of the Groundwork Trusts is that there is often another project you can move to when the current one is completed.

A federation of charities, Groundwork has the experience to deliver some of the UK’s most innovative environmental restoration, nature recovery and conservation projects. Groundwork directs a large part of its work at people currently outside the labour market. Project officers help these people reconnect with employment opportunities and prepare themselves for green jobs across a range of different roles and sectors. Creating accessible entry points for people to get on the first rung of the career ladder, and providing a starting point for employment of any kind, is a priority. Groundwork sees this as a way to ‘grow its own’ talent, giving people their first platform into work with an environmental focus.

Employability Tips

A smiling Lesley. Image Credit: Groundwork North East and Cumbria

Lesley works for Groundwork North East and Cumbria. She has worked in conservation for over thirty years and has some great suggestions to improve your employability. “For many organisations, choosing the ‘successful candidate’ at an interview is as much about the person with the right attitude as the one with an impressive academic CV.”

Lesley acknowledges that rural living is expensive and transport can be difficult and costly. She says: “Be prepared to travel around the UK and further afield, and at the start of your career be prepared to work on temporary contracts. It can be lonely at times to keep making new starts in new places, but it is a great way to meet people, learn new skills and explore new landscapes.”

Wellbeing Tips for Conservation Support Roles

Illustration of a meeting. Illustration by: Fay Ford

The Environmental Funders Network gives tips on how to be a good environmental fundraiser. Environmental fundraising is done both by people in full-time roles and as a smaller responsibility in some other roles in environmental organisations.

One of the initial hurdles faced by newcomers to the environment sector is the overwhelming scale and complexity of the issues at hand. Effective communication is vital for environmental organisations to convey their mission to both the public and prospective funders. 

To be effective in environmental fundraising, it is crucial to recognise the interconnectedness of environmental issues with broader societal challenges. But a word of warning: high turnover rates and burnout are common challenges in the environmental sector. The scale of the environmental crisis, combined with heavy workloads, often leads to eco-anxiety and stress. This takes its toll on wellbeing, so, it is important to look after yourself. “Setting boundaries, spending time in nature, nurturing essential relationships, and seeking help when needed are all part of a fundraiser’s essential toolkit.”

To read these and all articles in the CJS Focus publication click here:

Countryside Jobs Service (CJS)

Article written by Amy Worley

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