Land Management Degree Program Information and Requirements
The study of land management combines science and technology to prepare professionals who are equipped to address natural resource and environmental problems. Programs awarding associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees are available in the field of natural resource management.
Associate in Natural Resource Management
Schools may offer Associate of Arts (A.A.) or Associate of Science (A.S.) programs in natural resource management. The A.S. program's structure prepares students of natural resource management for entry-level work in ecology, forestry, or wildlife management, while the A.A. degree usually prepares students to enroll in a 4-year bachelor's program. Both programs provide a foundation in the basic sciences, which allows students to protect natural resources and ensure sustainable practices are used in natural settings.
Requirements for admission to community colleges and technical schools generally include a high school diploma or its equivalent. Schools may require various admissions or other testing procedures to determine course placement.
A natural resource management curriculum includes a combination of classroom-based work and laboratory experiences. Specific courses may include:
- Agricultural management
- Animal science
- Natural resources
- Crop production
- Forage production
- Ecology and evolution
Popular Career Options
Associate's degree graduates are prepared for entry-level positions in the field of natural resource management. Specific roles include:
- Environmental scientist
- Park manager
- Agricultural business associate
- Forest technician
- Wildlife technician
Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Management
A bachelor's degree in the field of natural resource management provides students with a broad overview of the biological, economic and social components of managing natural resources and environmental impacts. Students then specialize in a specific area such as physical resources or the social sciences. Students are prepared to use knowledge of scientific principles to effectively manage grasslands and wetlands, agro forestry, sustainable agriculture and other ecosystems.
Baccalaureate degrees, normally awarded by 4-year colleges or universities, are generally open to those who have completed their high school diplomas and meet general admissions standards of the institution. Schools have varying requirements on grade point averages and college admissions examinations. Prior coursework in biology and the natural sciences is often helpful.
A combination of lab and didactic coursework is incorporated into the baccalaureate curriculum. Course topics include:
- Environmental history
- Soil science
- Natural resources measurement
- Natural resource economics
Popular Career Options
A variety of career opportunities are available in the field of natural resource management. Positions may include:
- Land use planner
- Natural resource manager
- Park administrator
- Watershed manager
- Conservation biologist
Master of Science in Natural Resource Management
A master's program in the field of natural resources management is appropriate for professionals seeking additional training in management, research or policy development. Master's programs are available in a variety of formats and the curricula vary according to program objectives and goals. Most programs require the master's candidate to complete a thesis or final project and defend the work during an oral exam.
A baccalaureate degree in a related field is generally required for admissions into natural resource management graduate programs. Preferred areas of study include science, engineering or agriculture. Most schools require a satisfactory score on the GRE. Students may be required to take additional coursework in order to fulfill specific requirements.
Master's degree programs are often tailored to a student's specific interests; therefore classes vary. However the following areas of study are commonly available:
- Research methods
- Ecosystems and markets
- Terrestrial ecosystems
- Rangeland management
- Restoration ecology
- Urban wildlife
- Ecological modeling
Popular Career Options
Graduates of master's degree programs are equipped to lead teams of scientists and policy makers in a variety of government and private roles, including:
- Fisheries manager
- Geographic information scientist
- Water conflict manager
- Sustainable natural resource specialist
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
In May 2008, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment for land management professionals and conservation scientists would grow about as fast as average, a rate of 12%, for 2008-2018 (www.bls.gov). In May 2009, the BLS reported a median wage of $60,160 for range managers, soil and water conservationists and conservation scientists.
Students interested in seeking further education in the field of natural resource management may pursue certification in an area such as watershed management, aquaculture or geographic information systems. Additionally, a research-based doctoral degree is available.
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