Forestry is a hands-on field of study, so online degree and certificate programs aren't very common. Available programs include undergraduate certificate programs, such as the Certificate in Wildlife and Forestry, that can provide an introduction to the field and continuing education master's degree programs.
Distance learning certificate programs in forestry conservation provide an overview of forest monitoring and management techniques. Graduates may be able to seek entry-level employment working in parks and recreation. The few available programs can be completed without visiting campus.
Online master's degree programs in forestry specifically are quite rare, although forestry may also be studied through related programs in natural resources management. While classes can typically be completed 100% through distance learning, programs may require or offer some in-person practical training through field trips or internships.
Certificate in Wildlife and Forestry Conservation
Forestry certificate students learn the basics of maintaining the health of forests, from forest regeneration techniques for promoting growth to thinning stands of trees with fire. Additionally, candidates study the management of parks and wildlife areas, as well as other responsibilities of foresters. Students acquire the skills necessary for operating forest parks and protecting the plants and animals that reside within them. While on-campus programs are common, there are few programs in forestry available through distance education.
Program Information and Requirements
An online certificate program in wildlife and forestry conservation typically lasts less than a year. Course materials may be downloaded or mailed, but all coursework and exams are available online. Distance learning students communicate with their instructors via e-mail or phone.
Common Forestry Certificate Courses
These forestry classes approach conservation through a broad spectrum of topics, such as monitoring the health and protection of fish and wildlife that live in forest habitats or managing parks and forests worldwide. Coursework also provides an overview of forest protection laws and field safety.
Online students learn methods of maintaining the health and continued growth of forests. Classes cover specific management techniques such as timber harvest scheduling.
Protecting trees from insects, disease, fire, erosion and clear-cutting is the job of foresters. Students in this online course are introduced to a variety of forestry monitoring and inventory methods for protecting trees.
Natural Resource Conservation
Although all forestry jobs have commonalities, each approaches conservation in a different way. This conservation course covers different needs for different careers. For example, government foresters protect parks against encroaching development for recreation and public benefit, whereas forestry industry workers must balance the commercial interests of private industries with the sustainability of tree farms.
Master's Degree in Forestry
Post-baccalaureate students may obtain a Master of Science in Forestry through distance learning. Online programs specific to forestry are rare; however related programs offering a customizable forestry focus, such as a Master of Applied Science in Environmental Policy Management with a specialty in natural resource management, are also available. Graduates possess the communication and management skills essential for leadership roles in forest resource management.
Program Information and Requirements
Forestry master's degree programs can be completed online in 1-2 years. The coursework can be completed entirely online; however, field trips to state parks and internship opportunities may be offered to provide firsthand experience and training. High-speed Internet and e-mail access are necessary to actively participate in distance learning classes. Required texts and additional course materials may usually be downloaded from the class website or purchased online.
Common Forestry Master's Degree Courses
Environmental policy and law, economics of resource management and forest management are only some of the interdisciplinary topics reviewed to prepare graduates for leadership roles in forestry. At the completion of coursework, graduate students often engage in original research to produce a thesis or professional paper.
The monetary value of timber and the intrinsic value of non-market forest resources are discussed in this class. Distance learning students are introduced to quantitative analysis and economic theories as they apply to forestry.
This online class uses case studies to illustrate the laws that protect forests and the environment. Students also learn about the Managed Forest Law as a property tax incentive.
Geographic information system (GIS) technology can assist in land classification. Students in this course learn to collect geospatial data from surveys and forest inventories to aid foresters in managing sustainable forestry operations.
Careers for Graduates
Forest workers may be employed by governmental agencies to manage protected areas, as well as by private businesses involved in sustainably harvesting timber or tree farms. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median salary was $26,190 for forest and conservation workers as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov).
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median salary for foresters was $58,230 in May 2015. Over half of foresters are employed by the government, and the BLS projects employment opportunities in this field to increase by 8% between 2014 and 2024.
According to the BLS, there are currently 16 states that require foresters to secure licensure and registration; this process usually requires meeting education and experience requirements, as well as passing an exam. Voluntary certification is also available from the Society of American Foresters.
Those interested in a career in research or teaching at the college level may also pursue a Ph.D. in Forestry. While online programs at this level aren't generally available, a doctorate in forestry can be obtained from a number of on-campus programs.
For those seeking forestry degree and certificate programs in an online format, students can choose from a handful of of certificate programs in wildlife and forestry and master's degree programs in forestry. Courses in these programs cover conservation techniques, forest management, economics and legal aspects of the profession.