Natural Resources Manager: Job Outlook and Career Information

Mar 07, 2019

Career Definition for a Natural Resources Manager

Natural resources managers work with teams of scientists and technicians to educate companies about sustainable resources and environmental policy. They participate in environmental research, train staff in environmental issues and responsibilities, negotiate environmental service agreements and policies, and write and present environmental reports. Natural resources managers work in a variety of settings, including laboratories, research centers, universities, and governmental agencies like the Natural Resources Conservation Service, NASA, or the Environmental Protection Agency.

Education Master's degree
Job Skills Analytical, interpersonal skills, leadership, problem solving
Median Salary (2017) $118,970 (all natural sciences managers)
Job Growth (2016-2026) 10% (all natural sciences managers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

It's common for natural resources managers to start their careers as research scientists, geologists, chemists, biologists, or mathematicians, earning no less than a master's degree or Ph.D. in Natural Resources Management or a more specialized field. Natural resources management incorporates such disciplines as ecology, agricultural science, animal science, and geography, so a typical course load for natural resources management students would include classes in economics, social policy, management, and natural resource restoration. Many aspiring natural resources managers increase their marketability through internships. Natural resources managers also must continuously upgrade their knowledge to stay abreast of developments in environmental strategies.

Required Skills

Natural resources managers must exhibit innovative science, research, and business management skills to keep organizations' legal, social, and economic policies in sync with environmental developments. Strong communication, administrative, and marketing skills also are assets in this field.

Career and Economic Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS,, natural sciences managers could see employment growth in their field of 10% from 2016-2026. The median annual salary earned by natural sciences managers was reported by the BLS to be $118,970 in 2017.

Alternate Career Options

Job fields that involve environmental research and natural resource management include environmental science and geoscience.

Environmental Scientist

Environmental scientists research and carry out ways to address problems related to the conservation of natural resources and habitats. They may enforce environmental regulations, evaluate new construction projects, develop remediation plans for polluted rivers, or suggest ways to make manufacturing less harmful to people and the environment. Environmental scientists are commonly employed by local, state, or federal government agencies or management, scientific, and technical consulting agencies. A bachelor's degree in environmental science or a related field is required for entry-level work; environmental scientists who seek career advancement may need a master's degree. The BLS predicts that jobs for environmental scientists and specialists will increase 11% from 2016-2026. Environmental scientists and specialists earned median pay of $69,400 in 2017.


A geoscientist studies the physical characteristics of the planet to understand what happened in the past and make predictions about the future; areas of specialization include geology, geochemistry, oceanography, paleontology, and seismology. Geoscientists may perform field work and lab research to learn more about what the earth is made of and how it works. While it's possible to get an entry-level job with a bachelor's degree, research-oriented positions require a doctoral degree. Geoscientists who provide services to the public may be required to hold an engineering license. Licensing requirements vary by state, but usually include some combination of education, experience, and testing.

According to the BLS, geoscientists can expect job growth of 14% from 2016-2026. The BLS also reports that geoscientists earned median pay of $89,850 in 2017; however, median pay also varies widely by the industry in which geoscientists work. For example, geoscientists employed in the oil and gas extraction industry earned median pay of $125,360 while those employed by state government agencies earned median pay of $72,280 that same year.

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