What Kind of Jobs Can Conservation Majors Get?
Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue as a conservation major. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and job outlook information.
What Are Career Options for Conservation Majors?
Conservation majors are typically interested in work that preserves, protects and restores the environment, and the management and conservation of natural resources. Conservation is a broad field with many different branches, and conservation majors typically focus their studies on their specific area of interest. Some potential career options in this field include conservation scientist, wildlife biologist and environmental engineer. Conservation scientists will work with farmers and livestock and evaluate soil health to better the environment. Wildlife biologists primarily work with animals studying the impacts they have on their environments, and environmental engineers address environmental problems and work to find solutions for issues like pollution, waste and unsafe drinking water.
The following chart is an overview of just three of the many career paths you might choose as a conservation major.
|Conservation Scientist||Wildlife Biologist||Environmental engineer|
|Degree required||Bachelor's degree||Bachelor's degree||Bachelor's degree|
|Education Field of Study|| Environmental science,|
|Zoology and wildlife biology,|
| Environmental engineering, |
|Licensure||None||None||Professional Engineering License recommended|
|Average Salary (2018)||$65,320*||$67,760*||$92,640*|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||4%*||5%*||5%*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Can I Learn in a Bachelor's Degree Program in Conservation?
Bachelor's degree programs in conservation can usually be completed in four years. Most programs will allow you to pursue a course of study that emphasizes your interests and career goals, which could include policy, biology, watershed conservation, natural resources or environmental sociology. Most programs also provide you with training in fundamental areas of science, including biology, chemistry, natural resources and forestry. You could also find courses like these in the curriculum:
- Conservation biology
- Environmental politics and policy
- Economics and public affairs in conservation
- Research methodologies in environmental sciences
- Remote sensing of the environment
- Geographic information systems
- Wildlife population management
Additionally, these degree programs may require you to complete final examinations before you graduate. You may also need to complete an internship in conservation or forestry.
What Jobs Can I Get?
With a bachelor's degree in conservation, you could work in a number of industries, including federal agencies, state agencies, research firms or environmental organizations. Examples of these employers include the following:
- U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
- U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs
- United Nations
- State Department of Lands
- Society for Range Management
- U.S. Department of Agriculture
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service
You could secure positions such as environmental consultant, ecology consultant, field botanist, aquatic ecologist or landscape ecologist. You could also work in fields like soil management, insect and disease management, land use planning, environmental economics or water management. Other areas of employment might include wilderness and park management, protected area management, firefighting or environmental policy.
Can I Continue My Education?
A bachelor's degree in conservation could prepare you for various graduate-level degree programs. You could enroll in law programs that allow you to specialize in environmental law, conservation or public policy. You could also pursue a master's degree in professional sciences like biology, chemistry or ecology. Another possibility would be to apply to a Master of Natural Resources (MNR) degree program; this area of study offers doctoral-level education as well.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
If you wish to pursue a different career in the field of science, you may consider microbiology or hydrology. Microbiology requires a bachelor's degree for an entry-level position though you will need a doctorate to conduct research or to teach at the collegiate level. Microbiologists work with microorganisms and study how they interact with and affect their environments. Most microbiologists work in research and are continually striving to expand their knowledge of viruses, bacteria, fungi, algae and parasites.
Hydrologists study water and how it moves through the earth. As a hydrologist, you will focus on all aspects of water including how precipitation affects surface and groundwater, how the surrounding environment is impacted and how environmental differences may change the overall condition of water. You will need at least a bachelor's degree for this career though many hydrologists hold a master's degree.