discussion / Community Base  / 17 June 2022

Conservation Tech Career Pathways - what do you want to know? 

Hi wildlabbers, 

I made a casual comment in my post in the friday check in thread: 

This week I'm seeing a lot of questions coming up about career paths in #tech4wildlife. More than usual - which makes me wonder if it's time for us to do a proper series sharing different career paths people have taken into the sector (shout out if you want us to do this?)

I'm getting DMs about this full of ideas, so seems like having a proper thread to capture them is probably useful. 

This topic has been close to the top of the ideas pile for a long while - we ALWAYS hear questions about how to move from tech into conservation or what career pathways there are for early career people into our sector. Conservation Tech as a sector is so new and growing so quickly (e.g. see our State of Conservation Tech Report 2021) a lot of people have walked interesting routes to get into the work they're doing now. I'd love to do an event series, publication (e.g. like our Technical Difficulties series) or a regular community thing (live ask me anythings?) that gets into this topic. 

What do you think? Would you be interested in seeing this? What would be most useful? How do you think we should tackle it (i.e. format - events etc)? Who would you love to hear from? What questions do you want answered? 





What do you think? 
I think this is a great idea! Absolutely relevant. Thanks for considering. 

Would you be interested in seeing this? 
I sure would be. 

What would be most useful? 
A quick pathway to switch to conservation IT. I know at early career there is a lot of interest. For me personally I am trying to make this switch very late in career. So quick pathways are important to me. But excited about everyone's interest!

How do you think we should tackle it (i.e. format - events etc)? 
Couple events lasting not more than 1 hour each that is recorded for later viewing. Focused on roadmap to switch. 

Who would you love to hear from? 
People who are already established in Conservation IT and making decent salary. 

What questions do you want answered? 
Quickest road map to switch to conservation IT and making decent living. Max 2-3 options on road maps so that it is not too overwhelming. 

I think this would be awesome!! I worked at my university’s graduate career center (focused on PhD/Master’s students) for 2 years and it really changed my whole perspective on non-academic careers particularly. I’ve done some non-academic careers workshops with my dept here and am happy to be involved/help plan if this is something you want to push forward. I’ve got lots of resources compiled too from said workshops that folks are welcome to take a look at here

At the career center we would do alumni panels on different themes like “careers in ed tech” or “careers in science writing” etc etc and bring in people from that sector. I wonder if we could do a similar thing here. It could be organized by tech (careers w/ drones, careers w/ camera trapping, etc.) or by employer type (careers in government, careers in international nonprofits, careers in corporations, etc.). And then either way you do it, have the panel represented by the other topic, i.e., for careers in government have people working with drones vs eDNA, etc. or for careers with drones have people from companies, academic centers, etc. It might also be worth bringing on hiring managers too for the panels, at least for some of the bigger entities e.g., Microsoft, Google, etc.

We would also do blogs and podcast episodes profiling people which we could do here too, potentially similar to the layout of WILDLABS' Technical Difficulties Series or From the Field series in compiling a book of examples/experiences featuring people in different areas. 

Just some initial thoughts, but bottom line, very excited for any sort of professional/career development programming in conservation tech!  

I'd agree with other folks but I also think that the things that might be really useful might be more concrete, things like 

  • what sectors want R vs Python if you do programming/data science
  • how to best represent all the weird random skills we end up picking up doing our work on a resume/CV
  • comparison of private sector / public service / ngo / academia as workplaces
  • how to identify sectors where there's going to be a lot of demand

I would love to learn more about different conservation tech career paths!

I graduated with my Biodiversity Conservation MSc in 2018 and wanted to pursue a career in conservation tech but I didn't know where to look or what jobs I could do. My background is in natural science but I'm knowledgeable of emerging technology and how tech can be applied in new ways for conservation purposes. Because I couldn't find a job that matched my skillset/knowledge, I went back to school and am currently a PhD student where I'm further developing my engineering skills.

I'm still unsure how my skills/knowledge translates into a nonacademic job in conservation tech after gaining my PhD though, so a conversation that includes not just tech folks transitioning into conservation but conservation folks transitioning into tech would be wonderful! I'm interested in learning: what are the jobs, where are the jobs (who is hiring? what countries?), and what skills/experience do those jobs require? Perhaps a couple of career panels would be helpful: one for engineers switching into conservation tech and one for biologists who now work in conservation tech?