What is a Conservation Biologist?

Scientists exist in many fields, and a conservation biologist is a scientist who is concerned with protecting endangered species and preserving the environment. Simply examining the words “conservation” and “biologist” will help explain their career path. To conserve is to save or restore, and biology is the study of life. Therefore, it is clear that a conservation biologist is a scientist who wishes to save or restore life.

Conservation Biology

According to the USDA, conservation biology developed as a field in the 1980s, as the dangers caused by the extinction of species and destruction of habitats became more well-known. At the same time, the role of human advances was also seen as a large factor of the devastation and extinction. To combat the effect of human development, conservation biologists work with nature to reintroduce endangered species to native areas, but they also educate the public to reduce unnecessary destruction of the habitats in which animals live. As a conservation biologist, you can work for the federal or state government, as well as many non-profit agencies to protect, rehabilitate, and reintroduce animals. Many conservation biologists work for zoos and wild animal parks to do this. Another option is to work as a consultant to new businesses wishing to expand onto undeveloped land. No matter their title, the goal of a conservation biologist is always to reduce human impact to the most minimal harm of the environment.

Career Outlook

As mentioned above, the career options for a conservation biologist are quite varied. The Society for Conservation Biology lists several thousand jobs available now, ranging from bird watching and identification in Arizona to rehabilitating mantled howler monkeys in Panama. This is an exciting field with a fair outlook for jobs. However, the USDA and Society for Conservation Biology both recommend people interested in becoming a conservation biologist receive an undergraduate degree and participate in as many field opportunities as possible to gain experience.

What Should I Study?

In any career, it is best to start preparing as soon as possible. With that in mind, it is recommended to take as many math, science, and English courses as possible in high school. Choose to study an undergraduate degree focusing on courses in biology, ecology, chemistry, genetics, and resource management. It will also be helpful to take courses in communications, public policy, statistics, and economics. Finally, a key part of becoming a conservation biologist is practical experience in the field. Search the Society for Conservation Biology’s job page to find seasonal opportunities you can participate in during school breaks. When you graduate, you will be ready to pursue your career as a conservation biologist.

Conservation biology exists as a field because we need to protect, care for, and revitalize the planet. Though it is a newer scientific field when compared to chemistry or physics, it is a very important one when it comes to the Earth. By following the recommended guidelines from the USDA and the Society for Conservation Biology, it is possible to save and restore life as a conservation biologist.