Conservation Technician: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for a conservation technician. Get the facts about the day-to-day job duties, typical education requirements and the potential annual salary to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Natural Resources & Conservation degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Conservation Technician?

As a conservation technician, you work to protect natural resources and ensure that they're being used in the healthiest ways. They oversee the work of foresters and conservation workers as they work to improve the quality of forests. They must coordinate and direct the efforts of these workers, as well as evaluate their progress. Conservation technicians may help a variety of duties, depending on their place of work. For example, if they are working to preserve a forest, they may help plant seedlings, designate areas to be cleared of brush, approve trees for removal and work to prevent forest fires. They also check equipment to make sure everything is working properly. Conservation technicians will compile data and other information for conservation scientists and foresters to use in protecting various natural resources. The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Education Required Varies, but an associate's degree at a minimum recommended
Training Required On-the-job training under a supervisor
Key Responsibilities Track animals on natural lands, measure height and diameter of trees, monitor soil and water parameters, mark trees that have indications of disease
Job Growth (2014-2024) -6% (for forest and conservation technicians)*
Average Salary (2015) $38,260 (for forest and conservation technicians)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Job Duties of a Conservation Technician?

A conservation technician gathers data on natural land areas to help monitor, manage, maintain and protect the areas. This data includes information about animal species, pollution, size and other distinguishing information. As a technician, you'll work under the supervision of a conservation scientist or a forester, who'll likely give you the following duties:

  • Tracking animals in the area
  • Taking measurements of trees
  • Assisting with new construction monitoring in the area
  • Putting together information on water and soil quality
  • Marking diseased trees
  • Noting conditions that could become hazardous

Your duties may include tracking and monitoring logging activities. You may record the number and condition of the logs being removed. You may work with fire agencies to ensure the public is educated about forest fires and to prevent hazardous conditions from developing. You may plant trees to replace those that have been removed, provide information about regulations to the public and monitor activities of people in a protected area.

What Training or Education Do I Need?

Typically, employers want you to have at least an associate's degree in natural science or other science-related area. You may consider earning a bachelor's degree, which may make you more competitive when looking for a job. Some employers only require a high school diploma and provide training on-the-job. Natural science programs may cover topics that include:

  • Anthropology
  • Conservation
  • Natural resources
  • Physical science
  • Mathematics

Regardless of your educational background, most employers will provide some type of training to introduce you to procedures, regulations and job duties. You'll usually spend some time working as a trainee under a supervisor.

What Can I Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), forest and conservation technicians earned a mean annual wage of $38,260, as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov). The BLS projects the number of jobs in the forest and conservation technician field will decline by six percent between 2014-2024.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Related positions that require a high school diploma or on-the-job training include agricultural and logging workers. Agricultural workers are supervised by farm or agricultural managers as they ensure the quality of crops, livestock or other farm products. Logging workers are the ones who harvest trees from forests for timber. Another similar position is a forest technician, who performs many of the same duties as a conservation technician, but specifically with forests.

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