Climate change, our reliance on oil and gas, and the destruction of natural habitats have led to a global biodiversity crisis. Heightened awareness of this crisis has led to an increased focus on conservation efforts by people of all ages to ensure that our ecosystem will be sustained for future generations. Concern about species extinction, adoption of sustainable farming practices, and the transition to electric vehicles and plant-based diets are examples of trends gaining momentum as more and more people make lifestyle changes to reduce their impact on the planet.
Why is biodiversity so important? Biodiversity helps us fight disease, maintain a stable food supply, sustains our economy, and boosts business, according to the World Economic Forum. The implications of our current biodiversity crisis have global reach, and many professionals in this field may find themselves working internationally to mitigate the effects of natural disasters and problems caused by overconsumption. A recent report from the journal Nature addresses the domino effect these problems often have: “When one tipping point is triggered, it drastically affects other regions—indicating the cascading effects that one region can have on another halfway across the planet.”
“Biodiversity makes our natural world better in the same ways that diversity in our local communities leads to better experiences, ideas, and outcomes. Conservation as a discipline includes many different fields that ultimately work toward a similar goal: to enhance the lands, waters, and environment that we all depend on. Whether you are engaged in agriculture, sustainability, wildlife or fisheries management, or environmental education and outreach, we all work on the same team,” says Amy Carrozzino-Lyon, scientist and program director for the Master of Science in Biodiversity and Conservation Management at UW-Green Bay.
“Working in the conservation field offers the unique and challenging opportunity to influence tangible outcomes that have benefits for both the natural environment and our communities. Many conservationists get to develop management plans and projects and engage communities in the same places where they live, work, and play, which can be personally rewarding to see your efforts and partnerships in action.”
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Industries with the Greatest Need for Biodiversity Conservation Professionals
Those who share a passion for the environment along with concern about our water supply quality and why our forests are dying off may want to consider careers as environmental scientists, conservation scientists, or foresters–all biodiversity fields anticipated to grow significantly in the near future. Jobs in the biodiversity conservation field will increase by 8% over the next 10 years, with the majority of jobs concentrated in state and federal government, and scientific consulting services. Top employers include the U.S. Forest Service.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of environmental scientists and specialists and employment of conservation scientists and foresters is projected to grow 5 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations. IBIS World reports that regulatory requirements and rising pressure on corporations to be more eco-friendly will likely benefit the industry, and the introduction of stricter environmental legislation will likely be the primary driver of industry revenue growth. The World Economic Forum says “nature-positive economic models in key sectors” could provide up to 400 million jobs by 2030.
Specialized Skills for an Evolving Field
Conservation scientists and environmental scientists use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment and natural resources. They may work with private landowners and federal, state, and local governments to find ways to use and improve the land while safeguarding the environment (clean up polluted areas, advise policymakers, work with industry to reduce waste).
Besides a passion for the planet, individuals must have interests in natural resources, biodiversity, climate change, and the ability to analyze and seek solutions to conservation issues. UW-Green Bay offers students the opportunity to earn in-depth and specialized skills in the field by completing certificates or completing the master’s degree program. You can learn it all, or update your skills in a specific area.
Recent job posting data indicates that many employers are seeking individuals with hard skills in environmental science, biology, forestry, soil science, and data collection, according to Lightcast.
To be effective in this field, you should also be able to:
- explain scientific concepts in plain language to diverse audiences
- perform hands-on fieldwork
- work confidently with scientific methods and technology.
Other specialized skills you’ll learn include: GIS mapping, data analysis, data visualization, spatial analysis and mapping, conversation design and management, leadership and community engagement, and more. Stay current in a quickly changing field by learning practical skills you can apply and adapt on the job.
Biodiversity Jobs and Salaries
Job titles and salary ranges in this field vary. Some occupations may include: animal scientists; biological scientists; conservation scientists; environmental scientists and specialists, including health; forest and conservation workers; geological and hydrologic technicians; soil and plant scientists; and urban and regional planners.
Other job titles: climate change analyst, environmental health and safety specialist, environmental restoration planner, industrial ecologist, environmental chemist, conservation land manager, range manager, soil and water conservationist, procurement forester, urban forester, conservation education forester, environmental education specialist, environmental educator, interpretive naturalist, naturalist, park activities coordinator, park interpretive specialist, park naturalist, park ranger, environmental engineer, and wildlife biologist.
Some examples of median salaries for biodiversity-related occupations include:
- Urban planner ($51,408)
- Forest and conservation worker ($57,523)
- Wildlife conservation worker ($59,594)
- Environmental engineer ($71,585)
- Environmental planner ($72,975)
- Forester ($73,809)
- Soil scientist ($76,084)
- Environmental scientist ($77,845)
- Environmental compliance specialist ($78,946)
Source: Salary.com’s 2023 salary calculator
Get the Education You Need to Make an Impact
If you’re passionate about the environment and see yourself in a role to literally help save the planet, or you’re interested in addressing the needs of diverse communities through culturally responsible conservation practices, consider the online Master of Science in Biodiversity Conservation and Management program, offered through UW-Green Bay.
Choose your own learning path by completing two certificates, or complete all three stackable credentials and earn the master’s degree upon completion of a capstone project. As a graduate of the master’s degree program, you’ll be qualified to pursue leadership and management roles within nonprofit and government conservation organizations and other agencies within the biodiversity conservation field. You’ll learn the skills necessary to manage conservation challenges like climate change, species extinction, habitat loss, air and water pollution), intensive agriculture, and erosion.
And you’ll learn from experts who have already made an impact on conservation. UW-Green Bay was nicknamed “Eco U” in the 1970s, and its Cofrin Center for Biodiversity promotes conservation of the western Great Lakes flora and fauna through education, research, land stewardship and community services.
Contact an enrollment adviser today to learn more about how you can make your own impact through the Biodiversity Conservation and Management program.