Environmental Conservation Careers: Options and Requirements

Sep 25, 2019

Degree programs in environmental conservation typically cover forestry, biology, and environmental science. Find out about degree requirements, career options, and job growth for environmental conservation graduates.

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Environmental conservation professionals work to uphold regulations, raise awareness, provide advocacy and increasingly provide innovative problem solving in a chosen aspect of the environment. There are many professions in this field. Degree requirements vary, depending on the occupation chosen.

Essential Information

Environmental conservation professionals often work as foresters, scientists, technicians, or educators. They are concerned about environmental preservation, water quality and air quality. They also focus on teaching the general population about conservation and environmental concerns.

Career Foresters Conservation Scientists Forest and Conservation Technicians Professor of Environmental Studies
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Associate degree Graduate degree
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 1% 4% -3% 6%
Median Salary (2018)* $61,410 $61,310 $37,180 $79,910

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Conservation Scientist and Forester

Conservation scientists and foresters function as managers, working to monitor and maintain the quality of the land while at the same time fulfilling their employers' obligations to federal and state regulations regarding the environment. These professionals generally work in offices, though they may be called on to head into the field for research purposes or to oversee projects.

Education Requirements

Conservation scientists and foresters are generally expected to have at least a bachelor's degree in forestry or a closely related concentration. The Society of American Foresters (SAF) accredits specific programs that are preferred by employers, according to the BLS. The SAF also provides opportunities for industry certification for foresters (safnet.org).

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

Positions for foresters and conservation scientists could grow slower than the national average through 2028, according to the BLS. In May 2018, the BLS reported that professionals in the 90th percentile or higher earned $98,450 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $34,020 or less per year.

Forest and Conservation Technician

These technicians usually work under the supervision of foresters and conservation scientists. They perform duties required in the maintenance of forests, including surveying and marking trees for removal. They also perform data sampling, suppress fires and patrol to ascertain that environmental regulations are being followed.

Education Requirements

Forest and conservation technicians generally hold an associate degree in forestry or a closely related discipline. The programs recognized by the Society of American Foresters are considered the standard within the field.

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

In May 2018, the BLS reported that forst and conservation technicians in the 90th percentile or higher earned $57,700 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $26,600 or less per year. Over the 2018-2028 decade, this occupation is projected to experience a decline.

Environmental Studies Professor

Environmental studies professors work in colleges and universities. They are responsible for teaching classes on the topic of environmental studies, including cross-disciplinary courses touching on a range of political, economic and biological topics. Additionally, most postsecondary professors engage in original research. At universities, they may also be responsible for the training of researchers in graduate programs.

Education Requirements

Like most postsecondary teachers, environmental studies professors are required to have graduate degrees in the area they teach. Some 2-year schools only require professors to hold a master's degree before they can obtain a position, but most colleges and universities require incoming professors to hold a doctorate.

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

In May 2018, the BLS reported that professors of the environmental sciences in the 90th percentile or higher earned $158,230 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $42,930 or less per year. Job growth for environmental science postsecondary teachers is expected to rise as fast as the average between 2018 and 2028 (www.bls.gov).

There are many options for individuals seeking careers in environmental conservation, ranging from college professor to forestry technician. All call for postsecondary study, but degree requirements depend on the chosen occupation. Salaries vary as well, along with job growth expectations.

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