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Conservation Biologist: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a conservation biologist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and job growth expectations to find out if this is the career for you.

Essential Information

Conservation biologists are concerned with the protection and sustainability of natural resources like air, water, land and wildlife. The job requires at least a bachelor's degree in a scientific field like biology, though graduate-level programs are often required, especially if teaching and research is a career goal. Many conservation biologists work with the government or private agencies, serving as consultants on land use issues. Job growth for conservation scientists is expected to be minimal over the next decade.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in biology or related field
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)* 1% for conservation scientists
Median Salary (2013)* $61,220 for conservation scientists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Job Description

Conservation biologists are scientists concerned with protecting natural resources. However, their job requires a consideration of more than just hard science. Indeed, disciplines as diverse as economics, philosophy, sociology, law and education are useful to conservation biologists. Their primary goal is to combine various ways of thinking to devise satisfactory processes by which to sustain and protect air, water, land and wildlife resources.

Job Duties

Primarily, conservation biologists study the climate around them. They look at environmental trends, population density, types of flora and fauna growing in an area and more. All levels of life from microscopic to macroscopic are under their scrutiny. Their ultimate end after figuring out what they have to work with is to find ways to restore and maintain a healthy ecosystem.

The job of a conservation biologist requires communicating with many different types of people. Often, scientists are employed by government agencies as consultants. However, they also might work for private agencies when it comes to issues like land expansion. They might consult landowners, particularly farmers, on the best use for their land. Finally, they educate the general public on ecological threats and proper land use.

Requirements

According to the BLS (www.bls.gov), most conservation scientist jobs require a bachelor's degree, generally in biology. Programs might offer courses in life in all its forms and often offer specializations, such as microbiology and cell biology, along with research opportunities.

For conservation biologists who are interested in a more academic slant to their career, an advanced degree, such as a master's or Ph.D. in biology, can prepare one for a research or teaching position at an institution of higher learning. Some schools even offer graduate-level programs specifically in conservation biology.

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