How Can I Become a Water Conservation Specialist?

Research what it takes to become a water conservation specialist. Learn about job responsibilities, education needed, and positions that may be available to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Environmental & Social Sustainability degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Water Conservation Specialist?

A water conservation specialist is a conservation scientist whose work focuses on water quality and management. Depending on their area of interest within the field, they may study water pollution, determine the impact of environmental and human factors on water sources, or create plans to use water resources more effectively. Conservation specialists typically work for government agencies or social advocacy organizations.

The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Environmental resource management, environmental studies, public administration
Key Responsibilities Ensure efficient water resource allocation; advise the public on water issues; compile field data; create plans and write reports
Job Growth (2014-2024) 7%* (all conservation scientists)
Median Salary (2014) $51,023** (water conservation specialist)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

What Water Conservation Specialist Programs are Available?

If you want to become a water conservation specialist, bachelor's degree programs in environmental studies, natural resource management or public administration provide you with fundamental knowledge in specific disciplines relevant to water conservation. Environmental studies programs instill an understanding of nature as a complex web of interacting systems and examine human impacts on nature. Possible course topics related to water resource management include environmental science, wetlands ecology, oceanography, water chemistry and hydrology.

Natural resource management programs address a full spectrum of resource issues related to forestry, rangelands and fresh water. You'll receive interdisciplinary training that synthesizes concepts from economics, business administration and the biological sciences. Water conservation topics would be covered in your courses on human ecology, resource economics, resource measurement and watershed management.

Public administration programs have a more indirect relationship with water conservation. Your courses would be concerned with developing the knowledge base and critical thinking skills necessary to devise and implement effective public policies and programs, including resource management. Courses touch on problem-solving and decision-making, organizational management, project coordination and public resource allocation.

Where Could I Work?

You'll find many opportunities through local, state and federal agencies. You might also offer services directly to private property owners. Areas in the country where water resources are relatively scarce have a particular need for water management. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics hasn't compiled figures specifically for water conservation specialists; however, the entire discipline of conservation science was projected to grow 7% from 2014-2024, adding approximately 2,700 jobs over the decade (www.bls.gov).

What Will My Job Duties Be?

Your objective would be to ensure that usage of water resources occurs with maximum efficiency and minimum impact on quantity and quality. Some of your work might require assertive, non-confrontational interaction with the public, including providing conservation advice, responding to public inquiries or gathering data via field audits and site visits. Other duties include participating in the development of resource conservation plans, leading field teams, analyzing data and writing reports.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Instead of specializing in water conservation, you could get a job as a forester, where your work would focus on forests. In this position, you would plan regeneration sites, oversee forest fire prevention strategies and design timber removal strategies, among other duties. For this job, you need to have a bachelor's degree. You might also be interested in getting a job as an environmental restoration planner. This job involves evaluating polluted sites and developing cost-effective cleanup strategies that protect the health of humans and the ecosystem as a whole. Most environmental restoration planners have at least a bachelor's degree.

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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