Perhaps the most exciting element about environmental careers is the people themselves. While environmental professionals come from all backgrounds and walks of life, most bring a love or passion for the environment to their work.
This leaflet offers some guidelines and tools for your investigation. Remember that this is a competitive field. Only you can provide the determination, persistence, and enthusiasm vital for success. Specific information, such as courses of study offered and jobs available, can be found in the material listed under "Further Reading", and by approaching the "Useful Contacts".
a) your interests and abilities;
b) education and training towards a career;
c) life experience;
d) job opportunities available to you once you qualify.
A starting point in gaining insight into these areas is to read widely. "Further Reading" below, lists informative publications which describe a variety of jobs, and the education and training they require. Magazines are invaluable as they deal with current environmental concerns, progress and activity, all of which help you to build a picture of this field.
* Write up your curriculum vitae (CV), take a clear look at the strengths and weaknesses that it reflects and work at developing strengths and improving weaknesses.
* Arrange holiday or weekend employment, either paid or voluntary - this allows you to develop a range of skills, to make contacts and to increase your confidence and self knowledge.
* Develop contacts with people working in the fields of environment and conservation.
* Become involved with environmental societies, publications, and educational groups.
* Develop skills that may be of use in your career, e.g. photography, using a computer, writing, drawing and painting, teaching, bird-watching, plant identification.
* Never stop reading, talking and questioning.
Choosing a course of study will involve weighing up your own preferences with the requirements of the job market. Whatever you choose, remember that a qualification alone will not support you in the job market. Practical, career-related experience to complement your course work gives you the edge over other students, as well as helping you make decisions regarding your career path. It is vital that you broaden, develop and build upon your formal studies so that on graduating, you have the qualifications, skills and vision to enable you to take on your chosen work. The suggestions listed above give some ideas as to how to do this.
Perhaps the most significant realisation is that everyone can bring environmental concern into the professional decisions they make in their working lives.
CAREERS IN ECOLOGY. South African Institute of Ecologists, 1992, address below.
CAREERS IN BOTANY. South African Association of Botanists, 1992, address below.
A CAREER IN ZOOLOGY. Zoological Society of Southern Africa, address below.
GEOGRAPHICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES: CAREERS. South African Geographical Society and Society for Geographers, SAGS address below.
A CAREER WITH THE NATAL PARKS BOARD. Natal Parks Board, address below.
A CAREER IN CONSERVATION IN THE CAPE PROVINCE. N. van Wyk, September 1991. Available from Dept. Environmental and Cultural Affairs (previously Cape Nature Conservation), address below.
SOUTH AFRICAN ENVIRONMENTAL COURSES. EPPIC, address below.
CAREERS IN THE ENVIRONMENT SPHERE. ESKOM, Environment Management Division, address below.
MARINE BIOLOGY AS A CAREER, in "The Living Shores of Southern Africa". M. and G. Branch. Struik Publishers, Cape Town, 1981.
THE GREEN PAGES: ENVIRONMENTAL NETWORKING AND RESOURCE DIRECTORY. WM Publications, Excom, 1991/1992.
WRITING YOUR OWN CV. M. Kowen. Legal Personnel Selections, Johannesburg, 1990.
A TO Z OF SOUTH AFRICAN CAREERS. A. Bryce (ed). Don Nelson Publishers. 1990.
THE CAREERS OCTOPUS FOR UNIVERSITY GRADUATES. University of Cape Town Careers Office. 1985.
Psychological Association of South Africa. PO Box 2729, Pretoria, 0001. Tel. 012-3261911 (mornings only).
Environmental Planning Professions Interdisciplinary Committee (EPPIC). PO Box 62041, Marshalltown, 2107. Tel. 011-8368618
Natal Parks Board. PO Box 662, Pietermaritzburg, 3200. Tel. 0331-471961.
Dept. Environmental and Cultural Affairs (previously Cape Nature Conservation). P/Bag 9086, Cape Town, 8000. Tel. 021-483 4227.
Gauteng Nature Conservation. P/Bag X209, Pretoria, 0001. Tel. 012-323 3403.
Dept. Agriculture and Environmental Affairs. PO Box 517, Bloemfontein, 9300. Tel. 051-405 4260 or 4262
National Parks Board. PO Box 787, Pretoria, 0001. Tel. 012-3439770.
South African Association of Botanists. P/Bag X101, Pretoria, 0001. Tel. 012-8043200.
Zoological Society of Southern Africa. Department of Zoology, University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, 7600. Tel. 02231-773236.
South African Institute of Ecologists. PO Box 37618, Valyland, 7978. Tel. 021-7852056
South African Geographical Society. PO Box 128, Wits, 2050.
ESKOM. PO Box 1091, Johannesburg, 2000. Tel. 011-800 8111.
Delta Environmental Centre. P/Bag X6, Parkview, 2122. Tel. 011-888 4831.
Umgeni Valley Project. PO Box 394, Howick, 3290. Tel. 0332-303931.
Ben Lavin Nature Reserve. PO Box 782, Lois Trichard, 0920. Tel. 01551-3834.