Degrees in the field of land management include majors such as land and energy management, ecology, natural resource management, and forestry. Program levels range from undergraduate to graduate degree options and are offered both at colleges and universities, as well as online.
Admission to these programs requires a high school diploma at the undergraduate level. Minimum GPA requirements and/or test scores may also be required. A bachelor's degree in a related field, such as science, engineering, or agriculture, is required at the graduate level, and GRE scores may be required as well. Applicants should have an aptitude for the natural sciences. Some programs will include internships as part of the curriculum.
Associate in Natural Resource Management
Schools may offer Associate of Arts (A.A.) or Associate of Science (A.S.) programs in natural resource management. The A.S. program's structure prepares students of natural resource management for entry-level work in ecology, forestry, or wildlife management, while the A.A. degree usually prepares students to enroll in a 4-year bachelor's program. Both programs provide a foundation in the basic sciences, which allows students to protect natural resources and ensure sustainable practices are used in natural settings.
A natural resource management curriculum includes a combination of classroom-based work and laboratory experiences. Specific courses may include:
- Agricultural management
- Natural resources
- Crop production
- Forage production
- Geology*Ecology and evolution
Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Management
A bachelor's degree in the field of natural resource management provides students with a broad overview of the biological, economic, and social components of managing natural resources and environmental impacts. Students then specialize in a specific area, such as physical resources or the social sciences. Students are prepared to use knowledge of scientific principles to effectively manage grasslands and wetlands, aggro forestry, sustainable agriculture, and other ecosystems.
A combination of lab and didactic coursework is incorporated into the baccalaureate curriculum. Course topics include:
- Environmental history
- Soil science
- Natural resources measurement
- Natural resource economics
Master of Science in Natural Resource Management
A master's program in the field of natural resources management is appropriate for professionals seeking additional training in management, research, or policy development. Master's programs are available in a variety of formats and the curricula vary according to program objectives and goals. Most programs require the master's candidate to complete a thesis or final project and defend the work during an oral exam.
Master's degree programs are often tailored to a student's specific interests; therefore, classes vary. The following areas of study are commonly available:
- Research methods
- Ecosystems and markets
- Terrestrial ecosystems
- Restoration ecology
- Urban wildlife
- Ecological modeling
Popular Career Options
Associate's degree graduates are prepared for entry-level positions in the field of natural resource management. Specific roles include:
- Environmental scientist
- Park manager
- Agricultural business associate
- Forest technician
- Wildlife technician
A variety of career opportunities are available in the field of natural resource management. Positions for bachelor's graduates may include:
- Land use planner
- Natural resource manager
- Park administrator
- Watershed manager
- Conservation biologist
Graduates of master's degree programs are equipped to lead teams of scientists and policy makers in a variety of government and private roles, including:
- Fisheries manager
- Geographic information scientist
- Water conflict manager
- Sustainable natural resource specialist
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment for conservation scientists will grow 7% for the decade 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). In May 2015, the BLS reported that the median annual wage for conservation scientists was $61,110.
Students interested in seeking further education in the field of natural resource management may pursue certification in an area such as watershed management, aquaculture or geographic information systems. Additionally, a research-based doctoral degree is available.
Undergraduate degrees in land management prepare students for entry-level positions in the field of natural resource management, while master's degree graduates can fulfill leadership positions in both the private and public sectors. Coursework in all programs includes the study of natural resources, ecosystems, and environmental history.