Sign In
OverviewSalaryAboutEducationWhere are the jobsEmploymentGenderRace/Origin
Manage public and private forested lands for economic, recreational, and conservation purposes. May inventory the type, amount, and location of standing timber, appraise the timber's worth, negotiate the purchase, and draw up contracts for procurement. May determine how to conserve wildlife habitats, creek beds, water quality, and soil stability, and how best to comply with environmental regulations. May devise plans for planting and growing new trees, monitor trees for healthy growth, and determine optimal harvesting schedules.
Undergraduate program resulting in the highest median salary ($84K): Animal Sciences
Largest undergraduate program (36.5% of workers): Forestry
Explore Pathways
Titles for this career often contain these words
Fewer details
Responsibilities and activities

Conservation scientists typically do the following:

  • Oversee forestry and conservation activities to ensure compliance with government regulations and habitat protection
  • Negotiate terms and conditions for forest harvesting and for land-use contracts
  • Establish plans for managing forest lands and resources
  • Monitor forest-cleared lands to ensure that they are suitable for future use
  • Work with private landowners, governments, farmers, and others to improve land for forestry purposes, while at the same time protecting the environment

Foresters typically do the following:

  • Supervise activities of forest and conservation workers and technicians
  • Choose and prepare sites for new trees, using controlled burning, bulldozers, or herbicides to clear land
  • Monitor the regeneration of forests
  • Direct and participate in forest fire suppression
  • Determine ways to remove timber with minimum environmental damage

Conservation scientists manage, improve, and protect the country’s natural resources. They work with private landowners and federal, state, and local governments to find ways to use and improve the land while safeguarding the environment. Conservation scientists advise farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers on how they can improve their land for agricultural purposes and to control erosion.

Foresters have a wide range of duties, and their responsibilities vary with their employer. Some primary duties of foresters are drawing up plans to regenerate forested lands, monitoring the progress of those lands, and supervising tree harvests. Another duty of a forester is devising plans to keep forests free from disease, harmful insects, and damaging wildfires. Many foresters supervise forest and conservation workers and technicians, directing their work and evaluating their progress.

Conservation scientists and foresters evaluate data on forest and soil quality, assessing damage to trees and forest lands caused by fires and logging activities. In addition, they lead activities such as suppressing fires and planting seedlings. Fire suppression activities include measuring how quickly fires will spread and how successfully the planned suppression activities turn out.

Conservation scientists and foresters use their skills to determine a fire’s impact on a region’s environment. Communication with firefighters and other forest workers is an important component of fire suppression and controlled burn activities because the information that conservation scientists and foresters provide can determine how firefighters work.

Conservation scientists and foresters use a number of tools to perform their jobs. They use clinometers to measure the heights of trees, diameter tapes to measure a tree’s circumference, and increment borers and bark gauges to measure the growth of trees so that timber volumes can be computed and growth rates estimated.

In addition, conservation scientists and foresters often use remote sensing (aerial photographs and other imagery taken from airplanes and satellites) and Geographic Information System (GIS) data to map large forest or range areas and to detect widespread trends of forest and land use. They make extensive use of hand-held computers and Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers to study these maps.

The following are examples of types of conservation scientists:

Conservation land managers work for land trusts or other conservation organizations to protect the wildlife habitat, biodiversity, scenic value, and other unique attributes of preserves and conservation lands.

Range managers, also called range conservationists, protect rangelands to maximize their use without damaging the environment. Rangelands contain many natural resources and cover hundreds of millions of acres in the United States, mainly in the western states and Alaska.

Range managers may inventory soils, plants, and animals; develop resource management plans; help to restore degraded ecosystems; or help manage a ranch. They also maintain soil stability and vegetation for uses such as wildlife habitats and outdoor recreation. Like foresters, they work to prevent and reduce wildfires and invasive animal species.

Soil and water conservationists give technical help to people who are concerned with the conservation of soil, water, and related natural resources. For private landowners, they develop programs to make the most productive use of land without damaging it. They also help landowners with issues such as dealing with erosion. They help private landowners and governments by advising on water quality, preserving water supplies, preventing ground-water contamination, and conserving water.

The following are examples of types of foresters:

Procurement foresters buy timber by contacting local forest owners and negotiating a sale. This activity typically involves taking inventory on the type, amount, and location of all standing timber on the property. Procurement foresters then appraise the timber’s worth, negotiate its purchase, and draw up a contract. The forester then subcontracts with loggers or pulpwood cutters to remove the trees and to help lay out roads to get to the timber.

Urban foresters live and work in larger cities and manage urban trees. These workers are concerned with quality-of-life issues, including air quality, shade, and storm water runoff.

Conservation education foresters train teachers and students about issues facing forest lands.

Median salary: $63,980 annually
Half of those employed in this career earn between $51,890 and $77,010.
Context: Median Salary
How do salaries for this career compare to other jobs' salaries?
Fewer details
Salary growth for conservation scientists and foresters
Is this job likely to reward you for sticking with it through pay raises and promotions? The higher a job’s “experience quotient,” the more you are likely to get as you stay there.
Experience quotient percentile
Take a minute to look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working at each age change. Does this seem to be a job for the young or the old, or could it be a career offering steady salary growth for many years?
Salary distribution
Number employed
About Foresters
How do benefits for this career compare to other jobs? The availability of health care, especially employer provided health care, and pension plans can add significantly to the value of compensation you receive in a career. These charts compare how this career compares to other careers with regard to health care and pension plans.
Employee has health insurance
Employer is providing health insurance
Employer-provided pension plan is available
Worker concerns
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of foresters who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Consequence of Error (56%)
  • Responsible for Others' Health (53%)
  • Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites (45%)
  • Time Pressure (31%)
Fewer details
Personality and skills
Can you see yourself in the ranks of Foresters? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.
Analytical skills
Conservation scientists and foresters must evaluate the results of a variety of field tests and experiments, all of which require precision and accuracy. They use sophisticated computer modeling to prepare their analyses.
Critical-thinking skills
Conservation scientists and foresters reach conclusions through sound reasoning and judgment. They determine how to improve forest conditions, and they must react appropriately to fires.
Decisionmaking skills
Conservation scientists and foresters must use their expertise and experience to determine whether their findings will have an impact on soil, forest lands, and the spread of fires.
Management skills
Conservation scientists and foresters need to work well with the <a href="/ooh/farming-fishing-and-forestry/forest-and-conservation-workers.htm" title="Forest and Conservation Workers"><u>forest and conservation workers</u></a> and technicians they supervise, so effective communication is critical.
Physical stamina
Conservation scientists and foresters often walk long distances in steep and wooded areas. They work in all kinds of weather, including extreme heat and cold.
Speaking skills
Conservation scientists and foresters must give clear instructions to <a href="/ooh/farming-fishing-and-forestry/forest-and-conservation-workers.htm" title="Forest and Conservation Workers"><u>forest and conservation workers</u></a> and technicians, who typically do the labor necessary for proper forest maintenance. They also need to communicate clearly with landowners and, in some cases, the general public.
Injury and Illness
About 98 foresters become injured or ill for every 10,000 workers, making this job more dangerous than 80% of other careers.
All injuries and illnesses
Education pathways to this career
Education attained by foresters
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), foresters typically hold a bachelor's degree.
Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as conservation scientists and foresters as reported in responses to the American Community Survey.
Details: Education and training recommended for foresters

Conservation scientists and foresters typically need a bachelor’s degree in forestry or a related field, such as agricultural science, rangeland management, or environmental science.

Bachelor’s degree programs are designed to prepare conservation scientists and foresters for their career or a graduate degree. Alongside practical skills, theory and education are important parts of these programs.

Bachelor’s and advanced degree programs in forestry and related fields typically include courses in ecology, biology, and forest resource measurement. Scientists and foresters also typically have a background in Geographic Information System (GIS) technology, remote sensing, and other forms of computer modeling.

In 2017, more than 50 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in forestry, urban forestry, and natural resources and ecosystem management were accredited by the Society of American Foresters.

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for foresters

Several states have some type of credentialing process for foresters. In some of these states, foresters must be licensed; check with your state for more information. Conservation workers do not need a license.

Although certification is not required, conservation scientists and foresters may choose to earn it because it shows a high level of professional competency.

The Society of American Foresters (SAF) offers certification to foresters. Candidates must have at least a bachelor’s degree from an SAF-accredited program or from a forestry program that is substantially equivalent. Candidates also must have qualifying professional experience and pass an exam.

The Society for Range Management offers professional certification in rangeland management or as a range management consultant. To be certified, candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree in range management or a related field, have 5 years of full-time related work experience, and pass an exam.

Education level of Conservation scientists and foresters
About 100% of conservation scientists and foresters have at least a bachelor's degree.
Education attained by conservation scientists and foresters
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Top college degrees
Here are the top college degrees held by the 98% of people in this job who have at least a bachelor's degree. Some of degrees may link to multiple programs due to the way Census classifies college majors. Click on a program to learn more about career opportunities for people who major in that field.
  1. Forestry
  2. Natural Resources Management
  3. Plant Science and Agronomy
  4. Biology
  5. Environmental Science
Fewer details
College majors held by conservation scientists and foresters
This table shows the college majors held by people working as conservation scientists and foresters. If you see "**" before the name of a degree/program, that means this field is one that the Department of Education believes is preparatory for this career. However, you can see from this list that those recommendations are far from your only path to this job!
Select any title to learn more about that degree
Salary comparison for bachelor's only
Career salary (tail) versus Career/Major salary (dot)
Does the bachelor's-only salary rise or fall with this major?
Salary for bachelor's-only
For people with this career and major
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Salary for all workers
For people with this career and major
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education for Career and Major
Workers with this career/major
Percentage in this career with this major
Not so much?
The link between degrees and this career
With the following sankey diagram, you can follow the top ten bachelor's degrees held by people working as conservation scientists and foresters, and then, in turn, you can see the 10 occupations that hire the most of each degree's graduates. We hope this provides ideas for similar jobs and similar fields of study.
Expand degrees
ForestryNatural Resources Ma...Plant Science and Ag...BiologyEnvironmental Scienc...General AgricultureCriminal Justice and...General BusinessAnimal SciencesSpecialized Program ...All other degreesThis jobTop 10 majors
Where are the jobs
State-by-state employment numbers
Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.
Select a state to see local area details
Number of Conservation scientists and foresters per 1,000 workers (ACS)
Fewer details
Job density versus job count
Which states hire the most foresters? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as foresters. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where foresters earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio
We use two methods to compare salaries across states:
  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for conservation scientists and foresters compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for conservation scientists and foresters.
We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which conservation scientists and foresters earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this figure might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
Location-adjusted median salary for Conservation scientists and foresters (ACS for all specialties)
6% of Conservation scientists and foresters are working part time.
We’ve found that some jobs have a huge number of part-time workers, and typically that is because they are unable to find full-time work or the job itself can’t provide full-time hours. With 6% part-time workers, this occupation has a lower percentage of part-time workers than 71% of careers.
Employer types
This donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, giving us a picture of what employers most typically hire for this career.
Employers of undefined (ACS)
Private for-profit
Private not-for-profit
Local government
State government
Federal government
Self-employed incorporated
Self-employed not incorporated
Working without pay
Fewer details
Distribution: Salaries of conservation scientists and foresters by type of employer
Here are the salary distributions based on employer type.
$56K$69K$49K$53K$53K$54K$56K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000$100,000$120,000Self-employed incorporatedFederal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Conservation scientists and foresters and gender
With 23% women, this occupation has a lower percentage of women than 63% of careers.
Gender of Conservation scientists and foresters
Men (77%)
Women (23%)
Distribution: salaries by gender
Does gender greatly influence your salary in this career? The closer the bars are, the less discrepancy there is.
We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.
Fewer details
Context: Women in the workforce
How does this career compare to other careers with regard to the percentage of women in the career.
Context: Salary inequity
The median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 19%. The situation is better for conservation scientists and foresters, with the median salary for men only 0.9% higher than the median salary for women.
Race and origin of Conservation scientists and foresters
This donut shows the distribution of race and origin among those employed as Conservation scientists and foresters.
Race/origin of conservation scientists and foresters
White (95% )
Black (2% )
American Indian (1% )
Multiracial (1% )
Hispanic (0% )
Asian (0% )
Other (0% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Distribution: salaries by race/origin
Some careers might have a pay disparity based on race or origin, the closer the below bars are the less of a discrepancy is present.
We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.