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Environmental Science

Wild animals and wild habitats are just as much a part of life in the United States as domestic creatures and urbanized places, and it takes special training to understand and manage the wild side of our national character. Wildlife and forestry degree programs can teach you the skills necessary to help protect and conserve our woodlands and their inhabitants.

The list of tasks necessary to the wildlife sciences is long and diverse, but here are some general duties that wildlife and forestry conservation professionals may perform:

  • Gathering plant, animal, soil, water and other data to better understand wild ecosystems
  • Studying the movement patterns and population dynamics of wild animal groups
  • Investigating the effects of human activity on wildlife and wildlife habitats
  • Determining if management is needed to offset human effects on forests or animal life
  • Monitoring conservation efforts for compliance with government and environmental regulations

Coursework in Wildlife and Forestry Degree Programs

Specific courses in wildlife and forestry conservation programs vary according to school, available facilities and the regional environment. However, there are several core concepts that these environmental science programs commonly cover. Below are some examples:

  • Environmental biology
  • Organic chemistry
  • Ecology
  • Wildlife and fisheries management
  • Rangelands management
  • Wildlife law enforcement
  • Ornithology
  • Soil science
  • Hydrology

Qualifying for a Career in Wildlife and Forestry Conservation

Entry-level positions as technicians may be available to candidates with just an associate degree in environmental science or a related field, but most positions in the wildlife sciences require a bachelor's degree in a life or earth science, such as forestry and wildlife biology. Professionals often need a master's degree or a specialized, non-degree advanced certificate in order to advance in their career.

Career Outlook for Professionals with Wildlife and Forestry Degrees

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects employment opportunities for conservation scientists to remain relatively steady between 2012 and 2022, with a six percent projected increase for foresters and five percent for zoologist and wildlife biologists.

The BLS also reports 2013 median annual salaries for several wildlife, forestry and related careers:

  • Conservation scientists: $61,220
  • Foresters: $57,110
  • Zoologists and wildlife biologists: $57,430
  • Environmental scientists or specialists: $65,090
  • Environmental science and protection technicians: $41,700

Potential students looking for more information on wildlife and forestry programs and careers can contact schools directly or visit the Wildlife Conservation Society online.

Conservation Scientists and Foresters, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, January 8, 2014, www.bls.gov/ooh/Life-Physical-and-Social-Science/Conservation-scientists.htm
"19-1031 Conservation Scientists," Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 6, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes191031.htm
Environmental Science and Protection Technicians, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, January 8, 2014, www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/environmental-science-and-protection-technicians.htm
"19-4091 Environmental Science and Protection Technicians, Including Health," Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 6, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes194091.htm
Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/environmental-scientists-and-specialists.htm
"19-2041 Environmental Scientists and Specialists," Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 6, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes192041.htm
Wildlife Conservation Society, http://www.wcs.org/
Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, January 8, 2014, www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/zoologists-and-wildlife-biologists.htm
"19-1023 Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists," Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 6, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes191023.htm

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