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2021 Natural Resources Conservation Degree Guide

The depletion of natural resources is a hot topic that is frequently discussed. If you have a passion for the environment and would like to conserve resources for future generations, consider a degree in Natural Resource Conservation.

Classes in Natural Resources Conservation include ecology, biology, and forest resource measurement and will focus on topics, such as climate, air, soil, water, land, fish and wildlife, and plant resources. Business and computer science courses are also incorporated into the curriculum to equip you with the skills to review conservation proposals and analyze their possibilities. As a conservationist, you will be able to help humanity conserve coal, oil, and trees and incorporate renewable resources into everyday life.

Under the umbrella of the Natural Resources Conservation major are specialties that include Natural Resources Conservation and Research, Environmental Studies, and Environmental Science.

A Recent Jump in Natural Resources Conservation Degrees

#50 Most Popular Major
21.6k Degrees Awarded
3.5% Increase in Graduates

In 2018-2019, natural resources conservation was the 50th most popular major nationwide with 21,552 degrees awarded. This is a difference of 765 over the prior year, a growth of 3.5%.

There are 834 schools offering degrees in natural resources conservation in the United States. Our 2021 Best Colleges for Natural Resources Conservation ranking analyzes 160 of these schools to determine the best overall colleges for natural resources conservation students. Continue reading to check out one of our many unbiased rankings of conservation programs later in this article.

What Are The Requirements For a Degree in Natural Resources Conservation

Natural resource conservationists work to ensure that humanity will not deplete all of the world's resources. They are able to estimate how projects will affect the environment and how to protect what resources still remain. This type of job requires strong analytical, critical thinking, and interpersonal skills. Conservationists must be able to make sound decisions when determining what steps should be taken to conserve resources. They also work closely with other scientists, foresters, and conservation workers making strong communication skills a necessary trait.

Work hours and conditions vary depending on the location and type of work conservationists are performing. Some conservation scientists work outdoors in all types of weather, occasionally in remote areas. This may require walking long distances through dense woods and underbrush to reach a certain location. Some work may also be physically strenuous.

Internships and summer jobs in parks or with conservationists are valuable when pursuing a career in Natural Resource Conservation. These provide you with experience within the field before beginning your own career. Employers prefer graduates with a degree from a program that is accredited by the Society of American Foresters (SAF).

Prior Education for a Conservation Program

A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required for most conservation degree programs and many students will need a minimum GPA and SAT/ACT score depending on the school. Once you obtain your degree, additional conservation certifications required to pursue a career in this field.

Types of Natural Resources Conservation Degrees

Conservation degree levels vary. You can spend many years getting as high as a research / scholarship based doctorate's in natural resources conservation to something that takes less time like a associate's. Depending on the natural resources 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 conservation, with approximately 43.9% of workers getting one. Find out other typical degree levels for conservation workers below.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 37.9%
Master’s Degree 23.9%
Doctoral Degree 20.4%
Post-Doctoral Training 10.1%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 2.1%

94.0% of conservation workers have at least a bachelor's. The chart below shows what degree level those who work in natural resources conservation have obtained.


This of course varies depending on which conservation career you choose.

Career Opportunities for Conservation Majors

Average Number of Jobs
$33.7k Average Starting Salary
10% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

A career in Natural Resources Conservation can take you all over the world. Conservationists hold jobs in offices, labs, outdoors, and doing fieldwork in remote locations. Although it's not necessary, some conservationists decide to continue their education to receive either their master's degree or Ph.D.

Solid Growth Projected for Conservation Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your conservation degree? Natural Resources Conservation careers are expected to grow 9.5% between 2016 and 2026.

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

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
Environmental Scientists and Specialists 99,400 11.1%
Conservation Scientists 23,700 6.3%
Foresters 12,900 4.9%
Environmental Science Professors 7,600 10.1%
Forestry & Conservation Science Professors 2,300 4.5%

Conservation Degree Salary Potential

Recently graduated natural resources conservation students earned an average of $33,654 in 2017-2018. Earnings can range from as low as $17,000 to as high as $68,600. As you might expect, salaries for conservation graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


Highest Paid Conservation Careers

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

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Forestry & Conservation Science Professors $92,550
Environmental Science Professors $91,330
Environmental Scientists and Specialists $77,580
Conservation Scientists $65,320
Foresters $63,150

Getting Your Natural Resources Conservation Degree

With over 2,051 different 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 conservation school rankings to help you with this.

One of 5 majors within the Natural Resources & Conservation area of study, Natural Resources Conservation has other similar majors worth exploring.

Related Major Annual Graduates
Natural Resource Management 2,842
Wildlife Management 2,400
Forestry 2,339
Fisheries Sciences 620
Natural Resources Conservation (Other) 151

View All Conservation Related Majors >


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