Career Information for a Degree in Natural Resource Management
Natural resource management professionals create, plan, monitor, direct and evaluate programs that preserve the environment. Degree programs train students to work in the fields of resource conservation and environmental management.
Some areas of specialty within natural resource management are range management, soil conservation and forestry. These professionals often work for government agencies and non-profit organizations and focus on environmental law, public policy and land use. Their job is to maintain a balance between human interests and environmental health.
Range managers are responsible for the efficient use and management of rangeland ecosystems, such as the grasslands, deserts and tundra. While primarily employed by government agencies, range managers may also work in the private sector. They sometimes have job titles like range conservationist, ranch manager, agricultural product sales or land reclamation specialist. Common duties include:
- Maintaining clean air and water
- Monitoring food supply and habitat for wild animals
- Recommending and enforcing livestock regulations
- Protecting and rebuilding biodiversity
- Accommodating hunting and recreation
Soil conservationists evaluate and maintain soil health. They work for government agencies and for private landowners, ranchers and farmers. These conservationists develop land use practices that prevent soil from becoming stripped of nutrients or contaminated with chemicals. They also identify and correct sources of erosion, write descriptions of soil composition and consult for construction and community planning industries.
Foresters have been educated to oversee the use of publicly and privately owned woodlands. They work for such entities as state and federal governments, logging companies and environmental agencies. Some common job titles are forest manager, wilderness and trails specialist, forestry consultant, forest ranger and timber investor. Depending on their specific position, foresters can have varying duties; however, general forestry responsibilities include:
- Planning and overseeing the regeneration of forests
- Maintaining forest wildlife and ecosystems
- Monitoring forests for disease
- Executing controlled burns
- Inventorying timber for procurement and contracting with loggers
Job Outlook and Salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), conservation scientists and foresters can expect to see a five percent job growth rate between 2010 and 2020 (www.bls.org). The BLS also notes that while wildfire management and urban revitalization will account for much of the demand for natural resource managers, the timber industry will see a decline in job creation. As of May 2012, conservation scientists, which includes range managers and soil conservationists, earned a median annual salary of $61,100 while foresters received $55,950 per year.
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