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2020 Natural Resources & Conservation Degree Guide

Natural resources and conservation are hot topics in our society. Many are concerned about the world's quickly depleting resources, whether it is oil, forests or endangered species. If you are passionate about this topic and believe you would like to help make a difference, a major in Natural Resource Conservation is just the beginning.

There are many different majors within the Natural Resources and Conservation field of study. A Natural Resources Management degree will provide the skills to manage how resources are used while majoring in Natural Resource Conservation will teach you how to productively and responsibly use the Earth's resources. If you prefer to work with animals, you can learn about habitat management with a major in Wildlife Management or specialize with a major in Fisheries Sciences. If you believe Natural Resources and Conservation is the field of study for you, any one of these majors will allow you to work in the field you are passionate about.

Rapid Growth in Natural Resources & Conservation Degrees Awarded

#30 Most Popular Major
28.6k Degrees Awarded
5.3% Increase in Graduates

In 2017-2018, natural resources and conservation was the 30th most popular major nationwide with 28,567 degrees awarded. This represents a 5.3% increase in natural resources and conservation degrees awarded over the prior year's total of 27,063.

Approximately 750 colleges in the U.S. offer a natural resources and conservation degree of some kind. This year's Best Colleges for Natural Resources & Conservation ranking compares 48 of them to identify the best overall programs in the country. Continue reading to check out one of our many unbiased rankings of natural resources and conservation programs later in this article.

Natural Resources & Conservation Degree Requirements

Most of the majors within Natural Resources and Conservation are based heavily in sciences making a background in sciences very beneficial. Other essential skills are critical thinking and problem solving. Careers in this field require professionals to analyze different problems related to natural resources or habitats and create solutions. A love for the outdoors and a desire to save habitats is vital for anyone in this field.

Prior Education for a Natural Resources & Conservation Program

A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required for most natural resources and conservation degree programs and many students will need a minimum GPA and SAT/ACT score depending on the school. In addition to these basic natural resources and conservation program qualifications, to serve in some natural resources and conservation careers, special certification may be required outside of your degree.

Types of Natural Resources & Conservation Degrees

There are various different levels of natural resources and conservation degrees. Natural Resources & Conservation programs offered by schools range from a first year certificate to a research/scholarship based doctorate, which is the highest natural resources and conservation degree you can get. Depending on the natural resources and conservation degree you choose, obtaining your diploma can take anwhere from 1 to 4+ years.

Degree Credit Requirements Typical Program Length
Associate Degree 60-70 credits 2 years
Bachelor’s Degree 120 credits 4 years
Master’s Degree 50-70 credits 1-3 years
Doctorate Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation At least 4 years

A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to natural resources and conservation, with approximately 37.1% of workers getting one. People currently working in careers related to natural resources and conservation tend obtained the following education levels.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 31.9%
High School Diploma 15.3%
Master’s Degree 12.8%
Doctoral Degree 8.4%
Some College Courses 7.5%

About 62.6% of workers in careers related to natural resources and conservation obtain at least bachelor's degree. The chart below shows what degree level those who work in natural resources and conservation have obtained.


The education level required is different depending on the natural resources and conservation career you are seeking.

Natural Resources & Conservation Careers

Above Average Number of Jobs
$33.2k Average Starting Salary
7% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

Depending on your major, there are many possibilities for a career in natural resource conservation. Graduates often work for state or federal government agencies focusing on resource or wildlife conservation. Graduates also have the option to work in labs or perform fieldwork. Depending on your level of education, you may be able to perform your own independent research and publish findings. No matter what type of career you want, there are many opportunities available. Your possibilities are endless.

Growth Projected for Natural Resources & Conservation Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your natural resources and conservation degree? Natural Resources & Conservation careers are expected to grow 7.4% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to natural resources and conservation.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
Managers 1,071,700 8.0%
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers 731,900 7.0%
Firefighters 350,900 7.2%
Lifeguards, Ski Patrol, and Recreational Protective Service Workers 163,700 7.6%
Police and Detective Supervisors 111,600 6.6%

How Much Money Do People With a Natural Resources & Conservation Degree Make?

Recently graduated natural resources and conservation students earned an average of $33,196 in 2017-2018. Earnings can range from as low as $17,000 to as high as $68,600. As you might expect, salaries for natural resources and conservation graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


High Paying Careers for Natural Resources & Conservation Majors

Salaries for natural resources and conservation graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 5 highest paying careers natural resources and conservation grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Managers $115,590
Police and Detective Supervisors $93,100
Forestry & Conservation Science Professors $92,550
Environmental Science Professors $91,330
Fire Fighting Supervisors $80,310

Getting Your Natural Resources & Conservation Degree

With over 2,812 different natural resources and conservation degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased natural resources and conservation school rankings to help you with this.

Natural Resources & Conservation Majors to Study

Major Annual Graduates
Natural Resources Conservation 20,787
Natural Resource Management 2,675
Wildlife Management 2,217
Forestry 2,155
Fisheries Sciences 547

View All Natural Resources & Conservation Related Majors >

Majors Similar to Natural Resources & Conservation

Related Major Annual Graduates
Computer & Information Sciences 209,723
Engineering 197,582
Biological & Biomedical Sciences 157,997
Engineering Technologies 92,253
Physical Sciences 53,768

View All Natural Resources & Conservation Related Majors >


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