Range Manager Career Info
Rangelands are large tracts of open land that contain a number of natural resources. Range managers, also known as range conservationists or range scientists, study ways to care for rangelands and work with landowners, especially ranchers and farmers, to implement management plans. Job duties for these managers may include assessing an area's ecosystem and sediments as well as its plant and animal life. Range managers use this information to develop plans to manage resources and to rehabilitate or restore any damaged areas.
This job entails working both outdoors and working well with others. Range managers should have strong analytical and problem-solving abilities, concern for ecosystem health, and familiarity with mapping software and GIS technology. Range managers and other conservation scientists earn a higher-than-average salary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, these professionals brought in a median pay of $60,220 in 2015.
Earn a Bachelor's Degree
Becoming a range manager generally requires an undergraduate education. Bachelor's degrees in range management or natural resource management can help prepare individuals for the responsibilities required of range managers. Preferred courses in a 4-year degree program should include ecology, range science, resource management, wildlife, and conservation biology. If you're still in high school, you may want to consider courses in zoology, biology, and agriculture.
Graduates of range management degree programs may seek employment with consulting firms, government organizations, environmental groups, conservation agencies, and ranching operations. Range managers work as agricultural salesmen, land managers, and environmental consultants. Their work may include planning and directing the use of public and private land use, with a goal of sustainable use. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) noted that range managers may also have managerial duties and conduct research on policy issues, especially if they have advanced degrees.
The Society for Range Management is among several industry associations that offer continuing education and career training programs. Career development and job fairs may increase a job seeker's visibility and job opportunities as well as provide important networking opportunities.
Obtaining professional certification as a range manager typically requires individuals to have a bachelor's degree in range management along with several years of experience. Professional certification verifies knowledge and skills of rangelands and management practices. Some industry associations that offer professional certification include the Forest Licensing Board in California, which awards a Certified Range Manager credential. Additionally, the Society for Range Management offers a Certified Range Management Consultant program. Applicants need to pass an exam to gain this voluntary certification.
Consider Advanced Degree
A master's degree or doctorate may be needed to pursue advancement opportunities, especially for range managers who desire to work as researchers or teachers. Some advanced degree programs include concentrations in range management, range improvement, natural resource management, and rangeland ecology.
Once again, aspiring range managers should seek out a bachelor's or even a master's degree in a field such as range management or ecology before going out to gain practical experience in the field.