How to Become a Land Manager: Education and Career Roadmap

Should I Become a Land Manager?

Land managers administer, maintain and develop forests, rangelands and other natural sites for conservation or resource development. Land managers also handle land ownership rights, create long-term protection and development plans. They monitor forest and land use practices to ensure adherence to legal requirements. The private and public sector both hire land managers.

Career Requirements

Required Education Bachelor's Degree
Training On job training; apprenticeships
Licensing/Certification Several states require land managers to be licensed; Professional certification available from the Society of Range Management
Key Skills Manual dexterity; management; analytical thinking; organizational
Salary (2014) $61,860 per year (Median salary for conservation scientists)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step One: Complete a Bachelor's Degree Program

Bachelor's degree programs in natural resource management instruct aspiring land managers on both biological and physical sciences as well as environmental management. Some programs allow students to learn about related fields such as rangeland ecology, conservation biology, restoration ecology and wildlife management. Specific courses might include soil science, economics, agricultural engineering technology and sustainable land management.

Students may be able to gain hands-on experience through internships with land management agencies, volunteer work and cooperative education. Some programs aid graduates with job placement as well.

Step Two: Gain Work Experience

Working as foresters or conservation scientists could provide aspiring land managers with valuable work experience. In most cases, a bachelor's degree is enough to qualify an individual for such positions. Those who desire a research or teaching position will need either a master's or a doctoral degree.

The related field of soil and water conservation might also provide valuable work experience for land managers. Conservationists offer assistance to landowners, farmers, agencies and forest managers regarding how to conserve natural resources, solving erosion problems and how to get the most use out of land without harming it.

Step Three: Consider Licensure and Certification

Individuals looking to work as foresters will have to have a license in certain states, including Georgia, the Carolinas, Mississippi and Arkansas. In order to become licensed, applicants must undergo continuing education, have a bachelor's degree, pass an exam and have experience in forestry.

The Society of Range Management offers certification for rangeland managers. In order to be certified, applicants must have a bachelor's degree in range science/management or a related field, have satisfactory grades and five years of full-time experience in rangeland management or related administrative duties. Applicants must also have letters of recommendation and pass an exam in order to become certified.

Step Four: Explore Opportunities for Career Advancement

Experienced land Managers can move into more senior management positions in both the private and public sector. There are also opportunities for land managers to move into policy analysis and creation. Land managers with advanced degrees can move into teaching at the university level.

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