Careers in Natural Resource Management

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in natural resource management. Read on to learn more about career options along with education and salary information. Schools offering Environmental & Social Sustainability degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are Some Career Options for Natural Resource Management Professionals?

There are a variety of career options available to individuals interested in natural resource management. They can become conservation scientists and foresters, environmental scientists and specialists, or forest and conservation technicians.

Conservation scientists and foresters manage and monitor the land quality of forests, parks and other natural resources. They may work for the government or privately owned property, as well as social advocacy agencies and non-profits.

Environmental scientists and specialists use their expertise and training in the natural sciences to improve human health and protect our environment. They accomplish their goals by cleaning up pollution, working with policymakers or exploring measures to reduce waste.

Forest and conservation technicians are trained to provide technical assistance for the conservation of soil, water, forests, or other natural resources. They may collect data for forestry projects or train forest workers. A major duty of forest and conservative technicians is to help conservation scientists manage and improve rangelands and wildlife.

Overall, individuals working in natural science management should enjoy being outside and nature. They should have good stamina to perform general physical activities and operate vehicles or mechanized equipment used in forestry operations.

These three careers in natural resource management are outlined in the table below.

Conservation Scientists Environmental Scientists and Specialists Forest and Conservation Technicians
Degree Required Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree; a master's degree could be required for advancement Associate degree
Education Field of Study Environmental science, rangeland management, forestry or a related field Environmental science, chemistry, biology or a related field Conservation or forestry technology
Key Skills Analytical and decision-making skills, physical stamina Problem-solving and interpersonal skills, an ability to work alone Communication and critical-thinking skills, physical stamina
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 7% 11% 4%
Median Salary (2015)*$60,220 $67,460 $35,430

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Careers Can I Pursue in Natural Resource Management?

Professionals in the field of natural resource management are concerned with protecting the biodiversity of forests, rangelands and other ecosystems. As a conservation scientist, for instance, you might develop plans to ensure agricultural resources are harvested in a way that preserves the land for future use, whether by evaluating soil and water quality, measuring and mapping forests, or monitoring land use.

You might also work as one of the forest and conservation technicians responsible for collecting data used by these scientists. Forest and conservation technicians also track wildlife, maintain recreational facilities, keep an eye on logging activity and train seasonal forest workers.

Additional career options include environmental scientist or specialist. These professionals also analyze soil and water samples in an attempt to help businesses limit their impact on the environment or restore resources that have been damaged by pollution. They might also study the effect of chemicals and climate change on human health and various ecosystems.

How Do I Qualify for One of These Positions?

A career as a conservation scientist, environmental scientist or environmental specialist will require a bachelor's degree in a field like forestry, environmental science or rangeland management. These science-intensive programs include coursework in such areas as restoration ecology, soil science and geographic information systems. You'll also participate in lab sessions and fieldwork to learn techniques for conducting environmental assessments and risk analyses.

Forest and conservation technicians generally only need a high school diploma but an associate degree in conservation or forestry technology is available. Coursework for these two-year programs can cover dendrology, forest ecology, silviculture and wildlife management. You might also learn to use surveying and tree harvesting equipment.

What Skills Do I Need?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, these natural resource management professionals need strong analytical skills in order to evaluate the outcomes of field tests. You might also need to be able to endure long-distance hikes or adverse weather conditions if you're working outdoors. Good communication, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills are also vital.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Agricultural and food scientists are scientific researchers who find ways to enhance the efficiency and safety of agricultural operations and products. They may be employed at colleges, manufacturing plants, or research firms.

An atmospheric scientist examines the changes in weather and climate and how they impact humans on Earth. Most atmospheric scientists work at weather stations or laboratories. However, they often travel to perform field work.

Zoologist and wildlife biologists examine wildlife and study how they interact with various ecosystems. The research often includes studying animal behavior and their physical characteristics, as well as the impact of people on wildlife and natural habitats.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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