You love the environment, and you want to do your part to ensure that it remains as protected as possible for generations to come. Whether you’re already active by volunteering with green organizations, or you’re just getting into the idea of building a career that allows you to do your part to conserve natural resources, working in conservation can be an exciting, fulfilling path.
There are many different ways that you can work towards conserving the Earth. Conservationists work in the political, scientific, manufacturing, and educational fields, just to name a few. More and more, organizations are realizing the importance of giving back to the health of the planet, and they’re hiring people in the conservation field to do exactly that.
This field is growing rapidly, and it’s nice to know that there are opportunities for conservationists in both large cities and small, rural areas. While the types of opportunities may differ, people and organizations around the country are beginning to understand the reality of what’s happening to our planet, and more people than ever are working to do their part to ensure a healthy planet for future generations.
Here, we’ll explore what conservationists do, different types of jobs you can get with a conservationist degree, different degree options, and how you can get help paying for your education.
Most Popular Schools with Online Conservation Degree Programs
Top Paying Industries for Conservation Jobs:
|Industry||Annual mean wage (2)|
|Business, Professional, Labor, Political, and Similar Organizations||$100,520|
|Scientific Research and Development Services||$88,050|
|Grantmaking and Giving Services||$81,180|
|Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation)||$79,610|
|Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools||$73,090|
Most Affordable Online Conservation Degree Programs
What Do Conservationists Do?
Good news: if you’re interested in working as a conservationist, there’s a good chance that you’ll have a solid say in answering the question, “what does a conservationist do?” Many companies and other organizations are just beginning to realize the importance of conservation. In hiring a conservationist, companies look to you to develop initiatives and strategies that can help protect the Earth, and they’ll look to you to develop your conservationist job description in the most effective way possible.
As a conservationist, it’s key that you stay on top of the latest developments in environmental research so that your answer to the question, “what does a conservationist do?” works to effectively meet the ever-changing needs of the planet.
A conservationist job description can include several tasks, such as:
- Develop sustainability initiatives that allow organizations to positively impact the environment, or offset actions that harm the environment
- Educate children, students, and/ or adults on how the can positively impact the Earth
- Work with policy developers to provide insight and guidance on how to create Earth-friendly standards when developing public and private sector initiatives and projects
- Evaluate company or organizational practices, provide guidance on how to become more green-friendly
- Evaluate natural areas, develop strategies and guidance on how to improve the environmental health of the area
The job description of a conservationist can change from day to day, depending on your employer and the current needs of the environment. Continuing education is a key part of working as a successful conservationist, as this allows you to continually stay up to date on what the environment needs, and allows you to positively impact the policies and programs designed to help keep the environment safe.
How Do I Become a Conservationist?
If you’re interested in how to become a conservationist, it’s likely that you’re already active in protecting the environment, and you have a sense of what’s going on with the current state of Earth’s health. When you’re researching how to become a conservationist, you’ll first want to decide on a specialty area.
Some conservationists choose to specialize in preserving and protecting certain areas (such as beaches) while others choose to focus on a specific species of animals or plants. Others choose to focus on educating children on how to protect the environment, while others choose to work with large corporations to help them reduce their carbon footprint.
No matter what path you choose, you’ll start by earning your degree in environmental science, sustainability, conservation, or another related field. If you’re already sure of the specialty path you’d like to take, it may make more sense for you to earn your degree in wildlife biology, marine biology, botany, geology, or another field directly related to your career path.
While going to school and getting a degree is an important part of becoming a professional conservationist, it’s also important to dedicate some of your time toward connecting with nature and helping the Earth. Many people who go into the field of professional conservation enjoy volunteering their time for causes that benefit nature, such as working with political groups to lobby for environmental regulations, participating in natural area clean up efforts, or working with children to help them understand how they can do their part to protect the planet.
What Can You Do with a Conservation Degree?
There are many conservation degree jobs for college graduates who are ready to put their knowledge to good use for the planet. Conservation degree jobs can vary widely and can change depending on the needs of the Earth. Let’s take a look at some of the different employment options for people who have a conservation degree.
What jobs can you get with a wildlife conservation degree?
- Wildlife specialist – As a wildlife specialist, you’ll work in a designated area to ensure that all wildlife in the area are not being harmed by their environment. You may specialize in taking care of a particular type of wildlife, such as birds or aquatic animals. You’ll likely work closely with organizations whose business activities affect the land inhabited by the animals, working to promote conservation and the maintenance of a healthy environment.
- Environmental educator – As an environmental educator, you may work for a nature center, a government organization, a non-profit, a zoo, or other organization that prioritizes the well-being of wildlife. In this position, you’ll develop and lead programs for children and adults alike to learn more about what they can do to contribute to a healthy environment for animals.
- Fishery manager – If you decide to specialize in working to protect aquatic animals, you may find that you enjoy working to manage a fishery. This position combines leadership skills, wildlife biology, and supply chain management.
- Park ranger – Working as a park ranger can be a fantastic opportunity for people who have a wildlife conservation degree and enjoy spending most of their time in the outdoors. The day to day work of a park ranger can change drastically with the seasons. Park rangers work to protect animals, keep the environment clean and safe, and help visitors get the most out of their time at local, state, or national parks.
- Research specialist – A research specialist works to understand and study what types of conditions are best for wildlife, and how to create those conditions in nature. A research specialist can work to study a general natural area or may focus on one type of species. Working in research can be an excellent entry level position, and many students find that working in a research lab is a great part-time position to work through as they complete their graduate studies.
What jobs can I get with a general conservation science degree?
A general conservation science degree provides you with a broad understanding of many areas of conservation.
- Agent for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – A general conservationist can be a great fit for EPA work. This government organization works to ensure that companies and other organizations operate in a way that is safe for the planet. If you’re interested in the law and the environment, working for the EPA can be a great fit.
- Sustainability consultant – A sustainability consultant often works on a contract basis or may work for several different companies at one time. As a sustainability consultant, you’ll examine the workings of a company and determine how they can change to become more environmentally friendly.
- Project manager – After getting an education in general conservation, you may choose to work for a company that develops and implements sustainability initiatives. Working as a project manager requires excellent leadership and organizational skills, and can be the perfect way to combine your love for creating a developing an initiative that helps the environment with your love of working as a part of a team.
- Environmental science teacher or professor – Many high schools are beginning to offer environmental science classes. These classes have long been a staple at universities. Working at the high school or college level can be a rewarding way to share your passion for the environment that will also impact the next generation.
Now, we’ll take a look at the different degree options in the field, helping you begin to develop a plan for how you’d like to progress through your education.
Degree Types: Associates, Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral
There are several different degree level options for students who are interested in earning a degree in conservation. Understanding each of these levels (and the time required to complete the degree) is an important part of deciding what educational path you’d like to take.
A two-year degree, an online associate’s degree in conservation allows you to get your start in the sustainability field. At this level, you may work in conservation while also taking classes to earn your bachelor’s on weekends or in the evenings. An associate’s degree will give you insight into the work that needs to be done to keep the planet clean and safe for generations to come.
This four-year conservation online degree is what you’ll need to qualify for many conservation career fields. After you earn your online conservation degrees, you’ll be able to work as a consultant, an environmental educator, or in a number of other fields. Many choose to earn their conservation degrees online while also working full-time. This flexible option makes it easier to get your degree while still advancing in your career.
A two-year online conservation master’s degree sets you up to become a leader in your field and qualifies you to teach at the university level. Earning a conservation master’s online may offer you the unique opportunity to choose a specialty area, allowing you to become an expert in your area of interest.
Earning a conservation science Ph.D. online is an exciting pinnacle to your academic career, and will leave you well suited to teach and supervise at the university level, run research labs, develop company-wide sustainability initiatives, and more. When you earn your PhD in conservation biology online, you’ll become one of the trusted experts needed in the industry when it comes to helping companies and other organizations make the transition to green business.
It’s important that the school you choose for your conservation degree is accredited by a regional or national organization. Accreditation means that the school has been vetted as a legitimate academic program, and is an important part of having your degree respected and understood by future employers.
Earning a conservation certificate online can be an exciting way to get your foot in the door in the world of conservation. This can be ideal if you’re not sure whether you want to make a career as a conservationist but are interested in learning more about this field of study. Earning your online conservation certificate can also prepare you to take on conservation or sustainability initiatives within your company. If you’re thinking about earning your online conservation certificate to help you advance at work, talk with your employer about whether they offer tuition reimbursement or tuition assistance to help cover the cost of your education.
There are many scholarships for conservation students, including:
- ABC Humane Wildlife Control & Prevention, Inc. Academic Scholarship
- Colonial Agricultural Educational Foundation Scholarship
- National Wood Flooring Association Education & Research Foundation Wood Studies Scholarship
If you’re not sure how to afford your conservation education, be sure to talk with your school’s financial aid office. Many schools offer competitive financial aid packages (that may include loans, scholarships, and grants) that can make it easier to get your education by lowering your out of pocket costs.