How to Get Involved in the World of Marine Conservation

Marine conservation is a highly popular career path, and while it may seem impossible to break into the industry, marine conservation has something for everyone! From policy creators to field and climate scientists, to marketers and grant writers, there is surely a place for anyone and everyone from all backgrounds. A great volunteer experience or internship has the potential to lead to a dream job! Here are a few tips for anyone who wants to learn more about getting a job in marine conservation.


#1: Be Interested.

Interest and passion are at the heart of everything we do as marine conservationists. On top of that, it helps to stay informed on what’s going on in the marine conservation field. Read books, go scuba diving, look at conservation’s social media pages, get involved with what makes marine conservation important to you. From animal lovers to history buffs to photographers to climatologists, there’s something out there for everyone who loves marine conservation! Here at the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, we are all focused on protecting marine sanctuaries, but our backgrounds are all very unique in terms of background and education, and it works to our advantage. No matter what you’re interested in or passionate about in marine conservation, there is sure to be a place for you in this big blue world.

Wendy Cover, National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa

#2: Volunteer.

The ocean affects us all, whether we live on the coast or in the mountains. Getting involved is not only possible, but easy. Even if you don’t live anywhere near the ocean, there are plenty of opportunities to start volunteer work. If you happen to live in a state that’s not near the ocean or Great Lakes, like Colorado, check out opportunities for volunteer work with organizations like the Colorado Inland Ocean Coalition. For those who have quick access to beaches or coastlines, there are tons of hands-on options like beach clean up and school ocean conservation programs. If you’re interested in education of marine conservation, you can even start programs with your school. It is the smallest acts for change that have the biggest impact, so start volunteering in your free time.


#3 Internships.

One great way to pursue your interest in marine conservation is to get an internship, and there are all different kinds available in the marine conservation field! Internships are a great way to get to know more about a specific part of marine conservation and are available in all departments. Other organizations may offer specialized marine conservation training based on what you’re learning, as well as other business skills. These opportunities can be paid, unpaid, used for academic credit, or a mix. If you’re close to a city, there are countless opportunities in offices with everything from science to policy to communications. There are internships available to anyone, no need for a Ph.D. or science degree. Look into your local organizations to see what opportunities are available to you.

Claire Fackler, NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries

#4 Networking.

Networking can be a little intimidating, especially if it’s your first time. In a specialized industry like marine conservation, networking is also extremely important for getting to know the industry and potential employers. Marine conservation professionals are living their dreams, and are the best people to network with and learn from. One great option for marine conservation networking in the U.S. is the Capitol Hill Ocean Week in Washington, DC. CHOW is an annual marine conservation conference held in the Spring where hopefuls and professionals gather to talk about issues facing our oceans and Great Lakes, and can surely be a great networking opportunity, even beginners!

Claire Fackler, NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries

#5 Educational Path.

Most positions in marine conservation will have some kind of educational requirement, but the type varies. There are positions for those with a college degree, trade school, fieldwork, or specialized training. Luckily, there’s something out there for everyone at all education levels. It all depends on what you want to go into, so if you have an idea of what marine conservation work you’re passionate about, then dig a little deeper into the qualifications for your dream position.

Here at the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, we offer internships throughout the year for those who might want to get their fins in the door and pursue careers in marine conservation or philanthropy.


Below are links to some internships at the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries:


Full-Time Positions: