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Conservation Biology Jobs: Career Options and Education Info

Conservation biology generally focuses on the impact of human behavior on the environment. Continue reading for an overview of the programs, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

Conservation biology is the study of life on Earth with a focus on sustaining that life. In this article, you'll get a peek at the duties of and education requirements for conservation scientists, wildlife biologists, and biological technicians. A bachelor's degree is the minimum education requirement for each of these careers.

Essential Information

Conservation biologists typically develop strategies to manage land use for humans in a way that will have the least harmful impact on the natural ecosystem. A bachelor's degree is required for many positions, while positions in research and academia require a graduate degree. Specializations in this field include aquatic ecology and conservation, wildlife ecology, and conservation biology.

Career Conservation Scientists and Foresters Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists Biological Technicians
Required Education Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree; master's usually required for advancement; Ph.D. required for research and teaching jobs Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Certification required for foresters in some states Computer science expertise is useful Lab experience
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 7% growth 4% growth 5% growth
Median Salary (2015)* $61,110 (for conservation scientists) $59,680 $41,650

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Conservation biologists plan ways to utilize natural resources but still protect the environment. Some participate in ecosystem management like range managers, environmental consultants, and habitat-restoration specialists. Others may work with specific animals, such as fish, wild horses, desert tortoises, bald eagles, or marine mammals, to preserve biodiversity.

A review of Society for Conservation Biology job postings in November 2013 indicates that jobs range from unpaid volunteer internships to post-doctoral faculty positions. Sample postings include field botany technician, seabird research assistant, naturalist, various project leader positions, assistant professor of wildlife population, ecology trails project manager, and many others. Many of these jobs require both fieldwork and work in an office.

Conservation Scientists

These scientists help maintain forests, national parks, and other natural areas and protect them from harmful human influences. Someone who might want to spend their work day outside and is passionate about protecting the environment might consider this career.

Zoologist

Zoologists study animals of all kinds and their environments. It is the job of a zoologist who specializes in conservation biology to study endangered species and research methods of protection.

Biological Technicians

Biological technicians perform lab tests for biologists. Those who work for conservation scientists may help biologists out in field to collect samples.

Conservation Biology Employment Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides job seekers with a large amount of employment outlook information on a variety of careers associated with conservation biology, though not necessarily for those listed above. The BLS reports that the employment of conservation scientists and foresters is expected to increase 7% from 2014 to 2024, which is the same as the national average for all job opportunities. Employment of zoologists and wildlife biologists should increase by 4%, which is slower than the national average. Biological technicians are projected to see a 5% increase in employment opportunities from 2014 to 2024, which is about as fast as the national average.

Conservation Biology Employers

Employers are state agencies, universities, federal agencies, nonprofit conservation organizations, and private companies. Federal agencies provide most conservation biology positions. These include the U.S. Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Geological Survey, National Park Service, Environmental Protection Agency, Bureau of Reclamation, and National Marine Fisheries Service.

Conservation Biology Jobs Education Info

According to the BLS, most jobs in conservation sciences require a bachelor's degree, but a graduate degree is needed for research and teaching jobs. Some universities, like Texas A&M and University of Michigan, offer bachelor's and master's degree programs. Colorado State University also offers a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program. Concentrations might include aquatic ecology and conservation, wildlife ecology, or conservation biology.

Conservation Biology Courses Available

The University of Michigan provides a picture of some conservation biology courses. These might include ecosystem science, social science, environmental design, quantitative analysis, and causes of species extinction. Colorado State University offers graduate courses in design of fish and wildlife studies, conservation biology, managing human-wildlife conflicts, and wildlife habitat management. Some courses focus on fish and fisheries.

Possible job positions in the field of conservation biology include conservation scientist, wildlife biologist, and biological technician. For each career, having relevant experience with computer technology and in the field can be beneficial while job hunting. At least a bachelor's degree is required, though a graduate degree is needed for most teaching and research positions.

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