Conservationism or conservation degrees are typically offered at 4-year colleges and universities as a Bachelor of Science (BS) in majors such as conservation ecology, natural resources, or environmental science. While there are online options available, most bachelor's programs are offered on campus.
BS programs in conservation usually provide students with a lot of hands-on experience. Applicants will need a high school diploma or the equivalent for admission into these programs.
Bachelors Degree in Conservationism
Conservationism programs blend coursework in the sciences with classes covering topics such as government, geography and communication. Specializations are often available for broader programs; choices may include restoration ecology, conservation biology, watershed management or sustainable management. Hands-on learning is typically acquired through fieldwork, internships and laboratory work. Common courses may include:
- Organic chemistry
- Wildlife habitat management
- Conservation biology
Popular Career Options
Graduates can seek entry-level employment in the public or private sector, such as government natural resource agencies, environmental management consulting firms, and environmental advocacy groups. Depending on the job, professionals may work in offices and labs, or spend time doing fieldwork. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that independent consultants and novices spend most of their time in the field. Job options include:
- Conservation scientist
- Park ranger
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The BLS expects an average job growth of 7% for both foresters and conservation scientists over the 2014-2024 decade (www.bls.gov). Forester median earnings were $58,230 in May 2015, and conservation scientists at that time made a higher median wage of $61,110.
Continuing Education and Certification Information
Individuals can pursue further education with graduate degree programs in conservationism. In the master's degree program, students receive training on advanced topics in the field and also participate in research. A thesis or research-based project is typically required in a master's program. Students enrolled in doctorate degree programs work closely with faculty to conduct original research. Their studies usually conclude with writing a dissertation based on the research.
Various voluntary certifications are available for conservation professionals. The Wildlife Society offers certification as a Certified Wildlife Biologist or Associate Wildlife Biologist for professionals with approved education and experience. It also offers a Professional Developmental Certificate for all wildlife professionals. The Society of American Foresters offers professionals with an approved bachelor's degree and sufficient professional experience the Certified Forester credential.
A 4-year bachelor's degree in conservationism prepares students to work in the public or private sector as environmental managers and advocates. Continuing education and certifications are available to interested students.