Career Profile: Conservation Scientist

What does a conservation scientist do?
Conservation scientists work to manage, improve and protect the country’s natural resources. They work with governments and landowners to use and improve the land. Some conservation scientists advise farmers and ranchers about using agricultural resources. Some conservation scientists specialize as soil or water conservationists and work with soil erosion, water contamination or management of resources.

What type of schooling do I need to become a conservation scientist?
Usually, conservation scientists have a bachelor’s degree in rangeland management, agricultural science, natural resource management or environmental science. Generally a graduate degree is not necessary. Conservation Scientists also typically have a background in geographic information system (GIS) technology and other forms of computer modeling.

What types of skills are best suited to becoming a conservation scientist?
Analytical skills: Conservation scientists must evaluate the results of a variety of field tests and experiments, all of which require precision and accuracy.
Critical-thinking skills: Conservation scientists reach conclusions through sound reasoning and judgment. They determine how to improve forest conditions, and they must react appropriately to fires.
Decision-making skills: Conservation scientists and foresters must use their expertise and experience to determine whether their findings will have an impact on soil, forestlands or the spread of fires.
Interpersonal skills: Conservation scientists need to work well with the forest and conservation workers and technicians they supervise, so effective communication is critical.
Physical stamina: Conservation scientists often walk long distances in steep and wooded areas. They work in all kinds of weather, including extreme heat and cold.
Speaking skills: Conservation scientists and foresters must give clear instructions to forest and conservation workers and technicians, who typically do the labor necessary for proper forest maintenance.

What is the job outlook for conservation scientists?
About 74 percent of all conservation scientists work in government. Employment for conservation scientists is expected to grow by about 12 percent over the next decade, which is about as fast as average for all occupations. A large number of new jobs will be found in governments. The median annual wages for conservation scientists was $60,160.

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