Bachelor's degrees in environmental protection and conservation offered nationally include the B.S. in Environmental Health Science and Protection, B.S. in Environmental Conservation Studies, B.S. in Natural Resources and B.S. in Agriculture in Environmental Protection. Master's and doctoral degrees in environmental protection are also available.
Many programs in environmental protection require students to select an area of emphasis or specialization, from a very wide range of subjects. Students can choose from concentrations as diverse as pest management and soil and water conservation to wilderness fire management and international environmental policy. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED, as well as a background in science courses.
Bachelor's Degrees in Environmental Protection and Conservation
Courses of study in environmental protection and conservation require a foundational curriculum common across specializations in the field that covers subjects such as mathematics, biology, chemistry and ecology, in addition to any general education courses required by the school. Students take higher-level courses in a variety of subject areas, including:
- Sustainable living and freshwater resources
- Environmental policy and law
- Risk assessment and management
In addition, many programs culminate in a final project, thesis, internship or some combination thereof designed to develop professional skills that translate into the workplace.
Popular Career Options
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a B.S. degree qualifies graduates for entry-level positions in many environmental careers. Graduates from environmental conservation and protection programs can go on to pursue careers with government agencies, private businesses, consulting firms and not-for-profit organizations. Some of these positions may require moderate on-the-job training. Graduates may find employment in fields such as:
- Parks and recreation management
- Policy-making, law, administration and regulation
- Wildlife and conservation biology
- Education, public health and communications
- Watershed, resource or waste management
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Conservation scientists work for governments, social advocacy organizations and private landowners. According to the BLS, conservation scientists earned a median annual wage of $61,110 as of May 2015. The BLS predicts that there will be a 7% job growth for conservation scientists and foresters in 2014-2024.
Individuals with bachelor's degrees in environmental protection fields are well qualified to pursue graduate work in environmental science and law, conservation biology, education, resource management and several other disciplines, again with some differences in naming. For example, master's degrees are available in natural resources, resource economics and recreation management; doctoral programs in natural resources, earth system science and forestry are also offered, among others.
Graduates might enroll in certificate programs in wildlife management or in GIS (Geographic Information Systems) sciences and technologies to gain specialized knowledge. Students who completed programs focused on environmental issues related to agriculture and soil may seek certification through the USDA in soil science or soil conservation. Additionally, at some schools, certification by The Wildlife Society or federal qualification as a wildlife biologist can be obtained by completing a program focused on wildlife ecology and conservation biology.
A bachelor's degree in environmental protection and conservation gives students knowledge in a wide range of natural sciences and prepares them for an environmental career. Jobs for conservation scientists are expected to increase and continuing education is available.