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Become a Land Area Manager: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn how to become a land area manager. Research the education, training, licensure and experience required for starting a career in land area management. View article »

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  • 0:05 Land Area Manager Background
  • 1:04 Career Requirements
  • 1:49 Land Area Manager Steps

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Video Transcript

Land Area Manager Background

Land area managers work with private landowners and all levels of government to protect natural resources, such as forests, rangelands, and parks, through effective management and improvement. State and federal government agencies are common employers. Also known as foresters, rangeland managers, and conservationists, land area managers have varying scopes of duty, depending on their employers. For example, land area managers who work with ranchers and farmers focus on improving land for agriculture and controlling erosion of soil.

Land area managers can carry out their work in offices, labs, and in the field. Fieldwork can require physical stamina and endurance. Weather and terrain can create hazards, such as temperature extremes, uneven ground, bug bites, or poison ivy. Protective gear like a hard hat is sometimes required. Emergency conditions, like forest fires, can require overtime or irregular hours.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Forestry, rangeland management, or environmental science
Licensure Required by some states, experience needed
Key Skills Physical stamina; analytical, decision-making, interpersonal, and speaking skills; able to supervise workers; have experience with technical report writing, environmental site assessments, government permitting, and geographic information system (GIS) technology
Additional Requirements May also need to pass background investigations for some employment opportunities
Salary (2015) $61,110* (median annual salary for conservation scientists, which include land area managers)

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Steps to Be a Land Area Manager

What steps do I need to take to be a land area manager?

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's degree

Individuals interested in becoming land area managers will need to earn a bachelor's degree in forestry, rangeland management, environmental science, or a related major. These programs may offer concentrations in forestry, range science, restoration, or fire management. Courses provide a broad foundation in animal and plant science, wildlife management, fire ecology, geographic information systems, farm management, harvest management, and other topics. According to the BLS, most forest and conservation programs are accredited by the Society of American Foresters.

Step 2: Gain Experience

To become a land area manager typically requires several years of experience. Individuals may gain experience by working as forest and conservation technicians or workers and then seek advancement opportunities. According to the BLS, forest and conservation technicians monitor and collect data on the activities of loggers and other workers who harvest natural resources, such as forests. Technicians patrol forest areas, fight forest fires, track wildlife, mark trees to be cut, and discuss ongoing activities with foresters and conservation scientists. Technicians must have at least an associate's degree.

Conversely, forest and conservation workers need only a high school diploma, and on-the-job training is usually provided. Workers perform routine labor-intensive tasks such as planting seedlings, clearing away debris from camping trails and roadsides, fighting fires and identifying and removing diseased or undesirable trees, according to the BLS.

Step 3: Seek a Land Area Manager Position

As of 2016, the Society for Range Management website offered extensive information on positions in land area management, forestry, and conservation. The BLS reported that employers sought individuals with a bachelor's degree in forest management, range land management, wildlife ecology, or forestry.

Step 4: Obtain a State License

According to the BLS, some states require foresters to obtain a state license, while other states have voluntary licensure. Both state registration and licensing require a bachelor's degree and several years of work experience in forestry. The BLS also reported that passing an exam may be required.

Step 5: Seek a Professional Credential

Land area managers may seek a professional credential to demonstrate their knowledge and skills and improve opportunities for advancement. The Society for Range Management offers a professional credential for managing public and private rangelands. To qualify for the Certified Professional in Rangeland Management certification, individuals must have five years of experience related to rangeland management and possess a bachelor's degree in range science with a grade of 'C' or higher in various core subjects. Candidates must also pass a written exam and provide three letters of reference from certified rangeland managers. Certification lasts for two years.

Step 6: Follow New Developments

Consider joining a professional organization. For instance, membership with the Society for Range Management gives professionals access to journals and resources which contain timely research and information regarding rangeland practices; a membership-fee is required.

Land area managers work with government and private landowners to protect, manage, and improve natural resources. They have college degrees, physical stamina, and strong analytical, decision-making, interpersonal, and speaking skills, and they earn a median annual salary of $61,110.

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