'I'm a wildlife biologist in India; how can I get work in my field in the UK? And what's the best way into the art business?'

Wild at heart

I am a wildlife biologist based in India with a PhD in ornithology. I have two decades of experience in wildlife conservation and impact assessment. How can I get a job in the environment sector in the UK?

Environmental consultancies carry out impact assessment work for major development projects and often seek specialist staff with experience, so you should be well positioned for a job with one of these. Many recruit through agencies, but some place job adverts in the sector magazines: for starters, check the back pages of New Scientist or The Environmentalist.

From India, your best bet for job searching is probably the internet. The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) carries job listings – more than 3,000, in fact – on www.iema.net/jobs. Contact British organisations working in India, such as the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (www.durrell.org/conservation/where-we-work/india).

In your job interview, you'll need to demonstrate a good knowledge of UK environmental laws and regulations: for an overview, see www.defra.gov.uk and www.naturalengland.org.uk.

The IEMA can award members "chartered environmentalist" status, a qualification for those with "proven knowledge, understanding and competence" in their field, so consider joining; that will also provide opportunities to network. For a review of the kind of work you'll do in the UK, see www.prospects.ac.uk/links/occupations.

The good news is that the environmental sector is expanding and earnings are rising. Demand for jobs is high, but so are the rewards.

The art of getting ahead

I'm doing an MA in art history, but I'm unsure about the art sector as a career. I'm 21 and quite academically minded, so I'd like to do a PhD, but should I take a year out first to work for a few galleries? And where should I apply to do my PhD?

Taking a year out to explore the business won't do you any harm. Experience is vital to any career, and working in a gallery or museum could help you build up the contacts that will pave the way to your ideal position – you may find you like it so much that the idea of spending three years on a PhD loses its appeal.

The focus of a PhD is original research that will add to knowledge in your field: you will need to look for an institution that shares your specific interests and has a member of staff willing and able to supervise your work. This in itself will demand some research, perhaps best begun over a cup of tea with one of your MA tutors. Ask them to help you identify institutions that specialise in your field of expertise, and then contact them directly to talk about your interests and maybe even a research proposal. Unfortunately, there are no league tables to point you towards the best place to study: it all depends on your subject area, and where the specialists are based.

Politics and research

I'd like to do an MA in politics, but the courses that interest me are all fully taught, leaving little scope for independent research. I'm worried that without training in research I won't be able to progress to a PhD – is this the case?

Even when doing an MA consisting of wholly taught modules, it may be possible to include an elective module on research methods that will help your studies. Ask your favoured institutions about the possibility of including one.

Putting together a proposal for your PhD research will mean you'll need to be clear and confident about your methodology. This confidence should come via the research experience you've gained at undergraduate and Masters level.

Visit www.prospects.ac.uk/links/pgdbase and search for taught MA programmes with research opportunities.

Thanks to Mike Cox, careers consultant at Graduate Prospects, and Martin Baxter, deputy chief executive, Institute of Environment Management and Assessment.

Send your queries to Chris Green at c.green@independent.co.uk