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How Do I Become a Conservation Biologist?

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  • Written By: YaShekia King
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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Conservation biologists are scientists who study ways to preserve animals and plants as well as water and land systems. These individuals must be analytical and be willing to travel to perform field work. An individual who would like to become a conservation biologist has to complete at least six years of education after high school and acquire practical field experience.

If you wish to become a conservation biologist, you first must complete a four-year bachelor’s degree program in biology or environmental science. Schools determine your readiness for college-level training by confirming that you have a high school diploma or the equivalent certification as well as analyzing your high school course transcript. They also study your scores from recently taken standardized tests. You need to complete your potential educational institutions’ enrollment applications before you can start training to become a conservation biologist.

Taking a wide range of science courses is necessary to enter this industry. For example, you should study ecology, which deals with how organisms relate to one another and to the environment around them. A course in botany additionally covers how plants interact and thrive in various conditions, and genetics training addresses heredity in organisms. These classes provide a strong foundation for you to understand the structure of plants and animals and ways to protect organisms that are endangered, which is necessary if you want to become a conservation biologist.

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Completing an internship not only exposes you to real-world scenarios in the field, but also gives you the chance to select a specialty area in which to work as well. For example, if you want to become a conservation biologist, you can choose to focus on the preservation of forests, soil, or specific types of wildlife. Your college’s career services department might be able to give you the names of local companies that will give you the opportunity to train there, such as logging companies or other organizations in the private and government sectors that concentrate on conservation efforts.

Many employers require professionals in this career area to have a two-year master’s degree. Enrollment in this type of degree program includes submitting proof of having earned a related bachelor’s degree as well as completing the school’s enrollment form and submitting an undergraduate transcript. Some colleges also demand that applicants take and pass graduate school admissions tests. While completing your master’s degree program, you must be prepared to complete an extensive research project on an aspect of the field before you can become a conservation biologist. A master’s degree program also will prepare you for a four- to five-year doctoral degree program, which makes you eligible for university research positions in the industry.

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croydon
Post 3

@browncoat - Research is a big part of conservation, but we do actually know a lot already and there are a lot of ways that people can contribute that aren't research based.

Another point is that being a biologist might not be the idea platform for conservation in every case. A lot of conservation involves working with local communities or tourism or the economy and it can also be based around chemistry, psychology, geology and so forth. Being a biologist is only one avenue and being involved in research is only one method.

browncoat
Post 2

@KoiwiGal - I would look carefully at what you want to do and how you think you are going to be able to do it. You can become a conservationist without any training at all if you go about it the right way. But to be a proper biologist, you need to study.

Most people will want to have the option of being able to publish research at some point and you almost have to have a PhD in order to make that happen.

A lot of the work in conservation is centered around research, because we need to know how to preserve ecosystems before we can actually do it.

KoiwiGal
Post 1

You don't necessarily have to finish an undergraduate degree in biology before you can do a graduate degree in this area. I've seen some available that have various different requirements, although they tend to not be thesis degrees.

That means you probably won't be able to go into the field as a researcher, but are more likely to be actively working with a group or company to mitigate environmental impacts on species, as well as possibly providing education resources for schools and students.

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