How to Become a Forest & Conservation Worker

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Forest and conservation workers play an important role in preserving our natural resources for future generations. Those who are interested in this line of work should have a love of the outdoors while also being dedicated to upholding the law.

What they Do
$23,900
High School or GED
None
Moderate-term
13,700
1%
100
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, conservation workers are responsible for improving the quality of public forests. They may do this by planting trees in a particular area or clearing away brush and rubble in order to facilitate new plant growth. Forestry workers are typically responsible for overseeing controlled burns, maintaining campsites and clearing debris from trails as well. They also help to enforce hunting and fishing laws, and may issue citations to those who are poaching.

Necessary Requirements

Before becoming a conservation or forest worker, individuals must meet certain requirements that vary from state to state. A few things that are commonly required of these individuals include:

  • An ability to communicate in English, both verbally and in writing
  • A clean criminal background
  • Manages personal finances well
  • Positive work record
  • High level of physical fitness

Education and Training

A Bachelor’s degree in forestry, wildlife management, criminal justice or natural resources is usually needed in order to secure work in this career field. Some classes that could be useful to someone who is interested in becoming a conservation worker could include:

  • Environmental law
  • Introduction to wildlife conservation
  • Natural resource management and planning
  • Forest soils and measurements

In addition, students will be required to take foundational courses in biology, chemistry and English composition as well.

Other Recommended Training Courses

Aside from a Bachelor’s degree, certain training courses can be helpful when trying to land a job as a forestry worker. Any hunting and rifle safety classes that are offered by that state’s department of natural resources will give applicants an advantage over others who do not have this training. Likewise, it can also be a good idea to obtain certification as a boating, trapping, or hunting education instructor if possible.

Volunteer or Extra-Curricular Activities

Volunteering for certain organizations that deal with outdoor recreation and safety can provide valuable work experience that could be highlighted on a resume. Some good groups to consider would be scouting organizations, 4-H clubs, and the U.S. Civil Air Patrol. By helping with one of these organizations, applicants can prove that they have they have the necessary leadership skills required to be a conservation worker, while also demonstrating their love of nature.

State-Sponsored Training Programs

After being hired as a forest or conservation worker, many states require individuals to undergo a state-sponsored training program. This program is designed to make applicants aware of laws that are specific to that state as far as conservation goes. This training is performed under the supervision of experienced conservation and forestry workers, and can last for several months in many cases. Workers may also undergo annual refresher training in ethics, public policy, and forestry conservation best practices.

Where they Work

Forestry and conservation workers may be employed with a city’s parks and recreational department, a state’s department of natural resources or a national forestry service. Most of their work is performed outdoors, which means they are frequently exposed to the elements. They typically work full-time, and their schedules can consist of evening, night, weekend and holiday work.

Being a conservation officer can be a rewarding way to help others interact with nature. Since there is expected to be an increased emphasis on preserving our natural resources in years to come, the job outlook for these workers will likely continue to increase.

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