Conservationist: Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for conservationists. Get the facts about educational requirements, job duties, career outlook and 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 Conservationist?

Conservation scientists could include soil conservationists and range managers. These professionals work closely with various conservation activities to provide habitat protection, as well as ensure the land is in compliance with any government regulations. They also work with landowners, the government and farmers to improve the quality of the local environment and forests. Conservation scientists may oversee teams of technicians and workers who collect data, which they then analyze to evaluate forest health. They often take advantage of technology, such as geographic information systems (GIS) and global positioning systems (GPSs) to map large areas and chart trends. The below table includes helpful information about becoming a conservationist.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Environmental science, agricultural science, natural resource management, range science
Key Duties Soil conservationists help landowners with soil erosion, reforestation and crop rotation; range managers examine and manage wild ecosystems
Job Growth (2014-2024) 7%*
Average Salary (2015) $63,800*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Will I Need to Become a Conservationist?

Conservation scientists help to protect the nation's natural resources, and they advise governments and land owners how best to utilize land for recreational purposes. In certain instances, experience and some relevant education may be sufficient to obtain conservation jobs within the federal government. However, due to job competition, you should acquire a bachelor's degree to increase your opportunities.

To specialize in soil conservation, major in areas such as environmental science, agricultural science, or natural resource management. Or, if you'd like to become a range manager, plan to major in range science or range management. If you'd like to teach at a university or conduct research, you must also obtain a master's or doctorate degree.

A bachelor's degree-level environmental science program might offer classes in soil science, soil and water management, limnology, wetlands biology, biometrics, chemistry, foreign language, trigonometry and calculus. Should you choose to major in agricultural science, you'll study such topics as organic chemistry, economics, horticulture, crop production, and social science, as well as agricultural specialization courses.

As a natural resource management major, you'll take courses such as physics, general chemistry, technical writing, plant ecology, geomorphology, and humanities and arts. A range science or range management curriculum might include courses such as range hydrology, range livestock management, rangeland ecology and wild lands vegetation management. Your program of study might also include field trips or internships.

What Job Duties Might I Have?

As a soil conservationist, you might help landowners combat erosion by finding causes and suggesting solutions. Other aspects of your job might include reforestation and crop rotation. Soil conservationists might also create land design specifications, and monitor construction projects to ensure they conform to those specifications.

Range managers examine and manage plant life, animals and soils within America's rangelands. These ecosystems, found mainly in the western states, consist of wildlife habitats, grasses and water. Range managers might assist in ranch and farm management, take inventory of animals and plants, and create conservation plans to support wildlife and livestock. They also work to prevent wildfires, and to maintain the stability of soils.

What Salary Could I Expect to Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), conservation scientists earned an annual average salary of $63,800 in 2015 ( However, the BLS also reported that the job outlook for this career was expected to be average, about 7% from 2014-2024. This growth may be increased in the future with a need for restoring federal lands destroyed by wildfires in recent years.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Zoologists and wildlife biologists are some related careers to conservationists that require a bachelor's degree. These scientists study animals and their ecosystems. They may be involved in conservation efforts as they study animal characteristics and behavior. Some other related careers are agricultural and food scientists. These professionals also need a bachelor's degree. They work closely with agricultural establishments to study and improve their safety regulations and manufacturing processes.

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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