Conservationist: Career Profile

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a conservationist. Get a quick view of the requirements - including degree programs, job duties and licensure - to find out if this is the right career for you.

A conservationist may be the ideal career for someone who loves the environment and wants to help sustain it. They work in many industries, focusing on the preservation of the various aspects of our ecosystem, such as forests and oceans. The goal of the conservationist is to maintain biodiversity and good ecological health.

Essential Information

Those interested in the conservationist field have two main options for a career path, depending on the type of education they wish to pursue. General conservation workers perform manual labor tasks while conservation scientists can specialize in many fields, including soil and water conservation, range management, and forestry. Conservation scientists require more formal education than general conservation workers.

Career Titles Conservation Scientist Conservation Worker
Required Education Bachelor's degree High school diploma or equivalent
Other Requirements State licensure sometimes required None
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 7% 4%
Average Salary (2015)* $63,800 $38,260

Source:*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Conservationist Career Profile

Conservationists may perform general tasks as conservation workers or they may work in research and development as conservation scientists. Depending on their specialty, conservationists may work in forests, farming areas, or urban laboratories. These professionals may assist private land owners in making the land more profitable or work with state and federal governments to conserve resources and wildlife. Other duties may include operating heavy equipment, clearing excess trees, and brush or assisting with wildfire protection protocols.

Conservation scientists perform investigations involving natural disasters and health risks. Scientists may work as park naturalists, or soil and water conservationists, among other occupations. Besides working outdoors, they may spend significant time in a laboratory conducting research.

Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for forest and conservation workers is expected to increase by only four percent from 2014-2024, while jobs for conservation scientists are expected to grow by seven percent during the same period (

Salary Information

The BLS reported in 2015 that the average annual earnings for forest and conservation workers were $38,260, while the average annual salary for conservation scientists was $63,800 in the same year.

Education Requirements

Conservation workers may find work with just a high school diploma. Some junior colleges offer relevant programs in natural resources conservation or wildlife management. These programs include coursework in topics, such as botany, soil, wildlife and environmental chemistry. Some programs have field experience requirements in which students collect samples and perform research in preserves and habitats.

Conservation scientists will need a minimum of a bachelor's degree in environmental science, natural resource management or a related major. Prospective scientists who want to teach at the university-level or perform research may need a graduate degree. These curricula include courses in ecology, environmental science, environmental law and various natural resources. Requirements outside the core curricula can include natural science and calculus.


The BLS also notes that conservationists working as foresters may be required to be licensed by their state. Licensure typically includes a four-year degree and work experience. Prospective foresters may consult their state boards for more information.

The earth plummets continually into further states of disrepair. Conservationists are needed to assist in its sustenance by performing informative research and developing action plans. In conservationist careers, you can supervise afforestation, study soil and water-bodies, or provide a safe habitat for animals. A bachelor's degree or higher is required for most jobs, except for those who work manual labor.

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