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Sector LMI - Environmental conservation

Environmental conservation is a wide ranging industry, which includes a diverse range of jobs, many of which are land based or rural. It encompasses the rural and urban conservation of landscapes, habitats, species, countryside recreation and its management. It aims to promote awareness and understanding of the environment and its enjoyment. It also covers related landscape management skills, both technical and practical, together with the maintenance and conservation of rivers, coasts and waterways.

There is increasing pressure on individuals and businesses to reduce their emissions and be ‘environmentally friendly’. This together with EU legislation and pressures of the green agenda have lead to a growth in environmental careers and the number of job opportunities is increasing.

Key facts

  • There are approximately 3,250 environmental conservation organisations in the UK.
  • These organisations employ around 23,000 people and a further 200,000 volunteers.
  • Employers are also looking for employees who show enthusiasm and have basic employability skills, such as team working; time-keeping, communication skills, IT skills.
  • Job opportunities are increasing as are the number of graduates with environmental qualifications, so this is a competitive area to enter.

Environmental conservation workforce

  • The majority of the workforce is aged 25-40 years.
  • 60% of staff is male, 75% of proprietors are male.
  • 23% of the workforce has no qualifications.

Education and training

Over the last few years, the number of environmental management courses has increased. Further education in the environmental and land-based sector is largely delivered by a network of specialist providers, both public and private. Higher education qualifications and vocational courses are both well regarded by employers in the industry.

There are many graduate opportunities in agribusiness or environmental or land management, and many may be office based. However, there are still many options to work outside, utilising practical skills in a rural setting, and this remains the attraction of this sector for many graduates.

Salary levels

Pay scales in this industry are variable, but the following provide an indication of some full-time positions:

  • Ecologist – starting salaries of £20,000 – £24,000, rising to £25,000 - £35,000 with experience, consultant ecologists can earn around £40,000
  • Natural Environment and Conservation Managers – for managers salaries can reach £50,000, typical starting salaries range from £12,000 - £14,000, salaries at senior level/with experience range from £17,000 - £29,000
  • Conservation and Environmental Officer - starting salaries can be around £18,000 a year, experienced officers in management can earn up to, and over, £30,000
  • Countryside and Park Ranger - starting salaries can be around £18,000 a year, experienced officers can earn around £30,000

Future prospects

There is an increasing need for environmental conservation skills and knowledge throughout the sector. Due to changes in EU legislation, relating to sustainable development, rural and urban regeneration and access to the countryside environmental conservation is an expanding area of opportunities.

In particular, environmental consultancy is a growth area in both the public and private sector. There is a need for individuals with skills in environmental management, engineering, auditing and assessment and eco-design. Opportunities for consultants are both in the UK and overseas.

There is an increasing commitment to researching environmental issues, so opportunities for graduates to design environmental information systems, software and data management systems will increase.


NGRF - LMI Futures Trends


National Careers Service - job profiles

Graduate Prospects

Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management

icould careers videos

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