What Do Natural Resources Managers Do?

Explore the career requirements for natural resources managers. Get the facts about job duties, education requirements, salary and job outlook to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Environmental & Social Sustainability degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Natural Resources Manager?

Natural resources managers are in charge of products that involve land use and environmental conservation. They seek to ensure that all land-related activities comply with government regulations, and they try to balance the needs of users like farmers and landowners with the health of the ecosystem and the environment as a whole. Some specialize in particular areas within the field, such as range management, land management or soil and water conservation.

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

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Natural resources management, environmental science, forestry, rangeland management
Key Responsibilities Develop policies and procedures to sustainably manage environmental resources; conduct scientific studies; work with government and public officials; oversee budget
Job Growth (2014-2024) 7% (for all conservation scientists)*
Average Salary (2015) $63,800 (for all conservation scientists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Job Duties for Natural Resources Managers

Natural resources management is the general management of lakes, forests, plants, soil and other natural resources. It's a broad term that can be applied to several conservation and environmental management projects, such as protecting state property from overdevelopment or planning for effective, sustainable land use. As a natural resources manager, also called a conservation scientist, your primary goal is to oversee the operations of those projects.

Some of your responsibilities as a natural resources manager could include formulating the policies and procedures for a natural resources management program or hiring and training staff. You may set a budget, oversee program facilities, meet with government officials and conduct scientific studies. You might also spend time in the field conducting experiments and observing the land use patterns of humans as well as animals.

Get Your Degree

Earning a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources Management is one possible way to gain the academic training necessary to work as a natural resources manager. You might explore topics like environmental history, soil conservation, agricultural management, geology and geographic information systems. Most bachelor's programs take four years to complete. Some aspiring natural resources managers may have bachelor's degrees in related fields, including environmental science or biology.

Where Might I Find a Job?

You could find employment working in the natural resources management department of a state or city; you might also work in the private sector for an environmental consulting firm or a foresting company. Some natural resources management positions may be available within the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the National Park Service. Other jobs can be found working for state parks and recreation, water management or forest management departments.

What Salary Could I Expect to Make?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), conservation scientists earned an average annual salary of $63,800 in May 2015, with 20,200 workers employed in the U.S. This category includes conservation scientists who manage ranges and conservation lands. A large majority of those workers were employed by federal, state and local government agencies.

The BLS also reports that job growth among all conservation scientists is expected to be about average, at 7%, through the 2014-2024 decade. The need for wildfire management and forest restoration will drive some of this growth. Those with geographic information systems (GIS) skills could see the best opportunities.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Another career of interest is a job as a forester. In this position, you would manage forest use and protection efforts, such as fire prevention and timber procurement. For this job, you would need to get a bachelor's degree. Alternatively, you could consider becoming an environmental engineer. These professionals develop solutions to environmental problems, such as water pollution and energy inefficiency. The minimum educational requirement for an entry-level engineering job is 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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