Introduction of Naturalist
No matter how much we try to understand it, nature remains a wonder and mystery that nurtures the mind, body, and spirit. Every living thing on the planet has an impact on the environment. A Naturalist is a sort of biologist who not only investigates the mutual interactions of species and how they interact with their environment but also educates the public about environmental issues.
Similar Job Titles
- Park Interpretive Naturalist
- Interpretive Naturalist
Typical Job Responsibilities
What do Naturalists do?
A Naturalist would typically need to:
- Study plants and animals in their natural environment and the impact of the environment and human activities on them
- Estimate or take stock of wildlife populations and plant species
- Conduct experiments in natural environs; record field observations through notes and photographs
- Collect and prepare specimens and microscopic slides for scientific examination; analyze the data collected by junior staff.
- Conduct classes in forest ecology and botany, zoology and herpetology, geology, and historical interactive programming
- Communicate findings via reports, scientific papers, and journal articles
- Educate the public about wildlife and conservation; clarify matters of plant identification and wildlife nuisance
- Share presentations with schools, clubs, interest groups, and park interpretive programs; conduct educational tours for children
- Recommend ways to preserve or conserve plant and animal life and other natural resources
- Teach skill-building activities, such as canoeing, archery, GPS and team-building
- Oversee employees and volunteers; receive training in first aid and CPR
- Assist park operations; deal with emergencies to safeguard and protect human life, government property, and natural features
Standard Work Environment
You would likely have a diversified work life as a Naturalist. On other days, you might be in charge of organizing and conducting a strenuous nature walk. On others, you could be comfortably ensconced at your computer in your indoor office, researching and producing a leaflet designed to educate people about local bird species.
Working as a freelancer is an option. Travel is usually required as part of your job, either locally or in faraway places.
Naturalists often work up to 40 hours per week on average. They are normally available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Seeking a new job may appear difficult. Naturalists can improve their job search by soliciting referrals from their network, contacting firms directly, using job search platforms, attending job fairs, leveraging social media, and contacting staffing agencies.
Naturalists are generally employed by:
- State Parks
- Conservation, Monitoring & Public Health Authorities
- Scientific & Technical Consulting Services
- Educational Institutions
- Government Agencies
Unions / Professional Organizations
Professional groups and organizations, such as the International Society of Naturalists (INSONA), are essential for Naturalists who want to advance their careers or network with other experts in their field. Participation in one or more of these organizations adds value to your resume while strengthening your credentials and qualifications.
- Physically strenuous work
- The need to carry out fieldwork in remote locations
- The need to walk long distances through dense woods and underbrush to conduct field studies
- Working in extreme weather conditions
- Risk of insect bites, poisonous plants, and other natural hazards
Suggested Work Experience
Because of the high level of competition in the pitch, prior experience is frequently required to acquire a job. Every academic program a potential Naturalist enrolls in often involves supervised experience, such as an internship.
Any conservation, management, education, or planning background might be beneficial. Consider volunteering overseas to help with conservation projects. Many organizations provide formal training as volunteer officers, allowing you to take on certain responsibilities based on where you work. You might also work as a Naturalist at a park, which involves leading tours for families or an entire school of pupils.
Graduates may be able to gain job experience from environmental consultancies. A master’s degree program may include project internships at organizations. Work experience advertised may be paid or unpaid. Work experience that is not compensated is frequently less competitive.
Job shadowing or placement on a holiday can also be extremely beneficial.
An aspiring naturalist often requires a bachelor’s degree in ecology, biology, environmental biology, wildlife management, forestry, geology, agriculture, or natural resources. Remember that while an associate degree or a higher national diploma (HND) may qualify you for entry-level positions, you must supplement your resume with evidence of relevant experience and practical abilities.
For aspiring Naturalists, combining the life sciences with geoscience by selecting suitable majors and supporting electives is beneficial.
A master’s degree can help you boost your employability. Biology, botany, earth science, ecology, geography, land management, marine science, planning, sustainable development, wildlife conservation, or zoology are all possible majors. If your first degree is in an unrelated field, it is very important to pursue a relevant master’s degree. Postgraduate degree programs often incorporate forest resource measurement and planning and surveying training.
Completing a Ph.D. program may benefit Naturalists seeking high-level government, research, and academic positions.
Students in high school with a background in biology, chemistry, evolutionary science, maths, and geography are often admitted into a suitable degree course.
Certifications, Licenses, and Registration
While certification is not required, it validates a Naturalist’s proficiency in a skill area, generally by job experience, training, and passing an examination. It can help you stand out in a competitive employment market, carry a large wage premium of up to 18%, boost your prospects of progression, and allow you to become an independent consultant if obtained from an objective and reputable organization. Successful certification programs defend the public welfare by including a Code of Ethics.
You can become certified in first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Alternatively, you could become certified as an environmental professional specializing in environmental research, education, or operations.
Projected Career Map
Career advancement is driven by performance, experience, and the acquisition of professional certifications. Workers who continuously demonstrate high-performance levels may be eligible for promotion every two to three years.
You may begin as an assistant Naturalist or field assistant, but as you advance, you may take on more senior and administrative duties. Senior positions often require more office work than fieldwork, such as planning, budgeting, people management, and administrative aspects of environmental management.
In larger organizations, career growth is more controlled than in smaller organizations. If you work in a company that lacks a clear career path, you may need to relocate, travel, or change occupations or organizations. Transitioning between the public, private, and voluntary sectors may create new opportunities. In some environmental consultancies, there may be a path from Naturalist to Ecologist, Senior Ecologist, and Principal Ecologist.
After earning an advanced degree, you may research or work on policy concerns. If you work at a university, you could finish your Ph.D. and move on to postdoctoral research. You could potentially work as a Senior Researcher, Lecturer, or Professor.
While conservation professions are very competitive, involvement in various activities can demonstrate your excitement and love for environmental concerns, boost your résumé, and add to your experience. You can join any local biodiversity steering group by volunteering. Networking and meeting key players can also be advantageous.
Applicants with the required abilities, experience, and a master’s degree in a related field have the best job prospects.
Beneficial Professional Development
CPD will assist an active Naturalist in developing personal skills and proficiency through work-based learning, a professional activity, formal education, or self-directed learning. It enables you to always improve your skills regardless of age, employment, or degree of expertise.
As you start working, you can come across training possibilities you can apply for the job. As a result, you may be required to exhibit excitement to take on greater duties. Depending on your budget, you may be able to upskill through training courses suggested and supported by your work, or you may have to source and fund them yourself. Many professional organizations provide training, conferences, and activities.
Training for various environmental qualifications is also available for employees, students, professionals, or those with a specific interest in this field. You can also pursue a higher academic qualification as part of your continuing education to improve your work prospects (CE).
Conclusion of Naturalist
Naturalists have unique perspectives on the environment, acute awareness, and sensory acuity. They study the growth of plants, birds, and animals to understand better our planet’s evolution, conservation, and the origin of the human species.
Advice from the Wise
The world is a gigantic forest comprising humans, animals, birds, plants, and trees. Every time you look around, you are bound to experience something new. Being a naturalist can be a gratifying career if you have a natural affinity for working outdoors and educating people about the environment.
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