Career Definition for a Wildland Studies Professional
Wildland studies professionals examine and report on environmental issues, such as conservation and sustainable growth of natural resources. Their primary responsibilities include collecting and analyzing biological data and determining its impact on land and water use. Wildland studies professionals also work with teams of specialists to gather and interpret climatic, geological and topographical information that may have an influence on various habitats. Additional activities might include providing organizations and government agencies with specifics on area ecosystems.
|Education||Bachelor's degree in an environmental sciences field|
|Job Skills||Math, science, ability to make detailed observations, physical stamina, critical thinking and speaking|
|Median Annual Salary (2017)*||$61,480 (all conservation scientists)|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||6% (all conservation scientists)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The minimum education requirements to work in this field generally include completion of a bachelor's degree program in forestry or a related science, available through environmental sciences departments at four-year colleges and universities. Graduates of an agricultural science, environmental science or forestry program may also qualify for a position in this area. Core coursework typically includes topics in animal physiology, entomology, genetics and zoology. Internships may provide opportunities for hands-on fieldwork and research.
Wildland studies professionals must have the math, science and observational skills necessary to conduct field research and analysis. Critical-thinking and speaking abilities may also be helpful when composing or presenting reports; physical stamina can be key, especially when travelling by foot in wild and wooded areas in inclement weather.
Career and Economic Outlook
In 2017, federal, state and local governments were the largest employers of wildland studies professionals, such as foresters and conservation scientists, with the highest-paid positions available in Alaska, New Jersey, and Connecticut, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median annual salary for conservation scientists as of May 2017 was $61,480. The BLS projected that conservation scientists and foresters would see a 6% growth in job openings nationwide from 2016 to 2026, or about average when compared national growth rates to all other occupational fields (www.bls.gov).
Alternate Career Options
Other jobs similar to a wildland studies professional include:
Environmental Science and Protection Technicians
Environmental science and protection technicians use field and lab tests to determine and examine sources of environmental pollutants, such as those that might have an impact on public health. Common educational requirements include an associate's degree in environmental health and safety or science, public health or a closely related subject area. According to the BLS, this is a faster-than-average growing field, with employment opportunities expected to increase by 12% across the country from 2016 to 2026. Environmental science and protection technicians who were working in the field in May 2017 earned a median annual salary of $45,490 (www.bls.gov).
Forest and Conservation Technicians
Forest and conservation technicians collect and evaluate information about the soil, pests and water typically found on rangelands, in wooded areas or other similar locations. Completion of an associate degree program is the minimum educational requirement for obtaining a technician position in this field, particularly one that has been approved by the Society of American Foresters. The BLS reports that forest and conservation jobs are projected to decline (compared to all job growth nationally) by 2% between 2016 and 2026. Those who were employed in May 2017 earned median annual salaries of $36,130 (www.bls.gov).