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A view of the global conservation job market and how to succeed in it

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The high demand for conservation work is creating a need for conservation‐focused training of scientists. Although many people with postsecondary degrees in biology are finding careers outside academia, many programs and mentors continue to prepare students to follow‐in‐the‐footsteps of their professors. Unfortunately, information regarding how to prepare for today's conservation‐based job market is limited in detail and scope. This problem is complicated by the differing needs of conservation organizations in both economically developed and developing regions worldwide. To help scientists identify the tools needed for conservation positions worldwide, we reviewed the current global conservation job market and identified skills required for success in careers in academia, government, nonprofit, and for‐profit organizations. We also interviewed conservation professionals across all conservation sectors. Positions in nonprofit organizations were the most abundant, whereas academic jobs were only 10% of the current job market. The most common skills required across sectors were a strong disciplinary background, followed by analytical and technical skills. Academic positions differed the most from other types of positions in that they emphasized teaching as a top skill. Nonacademic jobs emphasized the need for excellent written and oral communication, as well as project‐management experience. Furthermore, we found distinct differences across job locations. Positions in developing countries emphasized language and interpersonal skills, whereas positions in countries with advanced economies focused on publication history and technical skills. Our results were corroborated by the conservation professionals we interviewed. Based on our results, we compiled a nondefinitive list of conservation‐based training programs that are likely to provide training for the current job market. Using the results of this study, scientists may be better able to tailor their training to maximize success in the conservation job market. Similarly, institutions can apply this information to create educational programs that produce graduates primed for long‐term success.
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Keywords: conservation education; educación de la conservación; entrenamiento de graduados; graduate training; habilidades; internacional; international; skills

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2017

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