Natural resource conservation associate's and bachelor's degree programs are ideal for individuals who aspire to protect and preserve the Earth's natural resources, including forests, oceans and wetlands. Students will have opportunities to supplement classroom learning with outdoor field experiences. Job outcomes for graduates may include conservation scientist, conservation officer or wildlife technician.
Associate of Science in Natural Resource Conservation
Prospective students should have a high school diploma or GED, as well as a strong interest in earth sciences, biology and environmental concerns. Once admitted, students gain a broad introduction to environmental systems over the course of this two-year program. Common courses include:
- Introduction to natural resource conservation
- Principles of soil and water
- Fisheries and aquatics ecology
- Geographic information systems
- Conservation fieldwork
- Advanced environmental conservation
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Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Conservation
Bachelor's degree programs in natural resource conservation provide students with an introduction to environmental studies, while also providing background in regulatory policies and administration. Prior to enrollment students, need to have a high school diploma or an equivalent.
In the program, students learn about various Earth ecosystems as well as organization and management principles. Many four-year degree programs in natural resource conservation recommend that students select a particular concentration on which to focus, such as aquatic conservation, forest conservation, rural agriculture conservation, wetland conservation or human dimensions in natural resource conservation. Courses might include:
- Statistics for life sciences
- Human ecology
- Environment and society
- Natural resource economics
- Forest botany
- Geographic information systems
Popular Career Options
A degree in natural resource conservation can prepare individuals for careers in several fields related to the environment, including science, administration and education. Some specific job titles might include:
- Environmental conservation officer
- Water conservationist
- Soil technician
- Wildlife technician
- Nature center educator
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Most conservation scientists working in the United States are employed by federal, state and local government agencies as well as some social advocacy organizations. There were roughly 20,200 conservation scientists working in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). In that year, conservation scientists earned a median salary of roughly $61,110.
Continuing Education Options
Conservation scientists who are interested in teaching at the college level should consider completing a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program in a related field, such as conservation biology. Individuals interested in becoming environmental lawyers or political activists might consider earning a master's degree in political science or a Juris Doctorate.
To prepare students for entry-level jobs in the field of natural resources conservation, related associate's degree programs utilize both hands-on and classroom instruction to teach students about environmental science. Students who wish to specialize in a specific area of conservation can go on to pursue a bachelor's degree in the field.