Forest and Conservation Careers
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The average value of the Associate degree needed to become a Forest and conservation technicians is $743,344.00.
Points of Interest
Forest and conservation technicians work in both a laboratory and outdoors, sometimes in a remote area. Education for this field starts with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a science related area. Those who graduate from an applied science technology program will have the best opportunity for employment. This individual will also work closely with a variety of state and federal agencies in this role.
Nature of the Work
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The protected forests in the United States require careful management for the preservation and responsible use of their resources for society’s needs. These technicians use scientific processes in order to take a practical approach to natural resource management. They may be in charge of setting up, using and maintaining laboratory equipment, overseeing experiments, noting observations and coming up with conclusions based on collected data. They may also work out the field, taking notes on environmental conditions, collecting data and developing reports.
Forest and conservation technicians collect information related to the condition, resources and measurements of natural forests and range land. They work under the management of a forester or conservation scientist. They have a range of duties, which include some of the following: noting the movement of wildlife, quality testing of water and soil, taking timber measurements, established property lines and note insect damage done to trees. They may also help with tasks specific to certain times of the year, which can include working in a recreational area and helping to plant trees.
The work hours for this career field can vary depending on the job assignment in the time of year. Those working in a laboratory setting will normally have a more regular eight hours a day schedule, while those working in the field will have more irregular hours. A good portion of this work is done outdoors and requires that the individual be in good physical condition. The work assignment may be in a remote area, requiring extra time for travel. The technician must also be comfortable working in various climates and weather conditions, depending on the region and the time of year.
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
In order to enter a position this field, the individual will have to complete at a minimum an associate’s level degree in applied science or other related area. Many positions may require a bachelor degree in order to be eligible for employment. Some can also start out in this field after high school graduation by working as a trainee underneath an experienced technician while working on their degree.
Specific degrees in forestry and conservation are offered by community colleges, universities and technical schools. Those attending a technical school will receive training that is more focused on their area that may not include core curriculum classes that are taught through a community college. Technical school programs take approximately one year to complete, while an associate degree takes about two years to finish. Students can complement their academic training with internship opportunities or by taking part in a program that works in conjunction with the employer. This gives the student the advantage of hands-on job experience that increases the chances of being hired after graduation. Depending on the individual's assignment, they may also have to take part in job training once hired.
Those wanting to enter the field can best prepare by taking classes in math and science. Specific science classes that can be the most helpful are chemistry, physics and those that include a laboratory experience. Being able to effectively communicate is essential for this career, as a technician will have to prepare reports, record data and observations while in the field. These will have to be analyzed and explained to other professionals, so being able to speak and write well are also very important. The individual should also have good computer skills and technical knowledge in order to deal with the equipment that is used on the job. Additional skills that can be helpful include being organized, having mechanical knowledge, detail oriented and the ability to think analytically.
Advancement in this career field is greatly aided by pursuing higher education. Those with a bachelor degree are more likely to be promoted to positions of greater responsibility. Once they have the necessary experience and have completed a graduate level degree, a technician can usually advance into the role of the scientist or a supervisor.
Many of these technicians are starting to work in cities in the area of urban forestry. These individuals do an in-depth study of trees that grow in urban settings and how this environment affects them. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2000 a there was approximately 34,000 forest and conservation technicians employed in the United States. Approximately 75% of these employees worked for the federal government, with most of these being in the Forest Service.
The growth of job opportunities in this area is projected to be at the same average rate for other occupations. Many of these technicians are starting to work in cities in the area of urban forestry. Those who have completed an applied science technology degree and have the necessary work experience will have the best opportunity for employment. Projections
By the year 2018, job opportunities are expected to grow by 9%. The area of urban forestry is expected to provide several new job openings. An increase in the number of environmental laws and public focus on issues related to conservation will also help to make new job openings available. These will be in areas such as water conservation and environmental protection. In 2008, there were approximately 34,000 forest and conservation technician positions, and by 2018 there will be an expected total of 36,900 jobs available. This is an increase of 2,900 jobs which shows an overall increase during this period of 9%.
The average hourly pay for a forest or conservation technician is approximately $15.80, with an average yearly salary of $32,860. Those in the lowest 10% earned at or below $11.78 an hour or $24,490 a year, with the top pay at or above $25.52 an hour or $53,080 a year.
The lowest paying employer in this field is the federal government, with an average hourly wage of $17.36 per and yearly salary of $36,110. The highest pay is found at colleges and universities, where the average hourly wage is $19.25 per hour and a yearly salary of $40,050. Local area governments pay these technicians an average of $17.33 an hour and an average yearly salary of $36,050. Industries that pay the most to these individuals include logging, social advocacy and scientific research facilities. At the state level, the following states have the highest pay rate: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Alaska and Georgia.
Fields related to the role of a forest and conservation technician include some of the following: laboratory technologist, drafter, engineering technician, radiology technician and diagnostic medical sonographer. These areas utilize similar skills and technology that is transferable if the individual chooses to change careers at some point.
Sources of Additional Information
The Society of American Foresters offers its members educational and certification opportunities. There is career information, publications and various other resources on their website for the interested individual. They can be found at the following contact information:
5400 Grosvenor Lane Bethesda, MD 20814 http://www.safnet.org
People with the educational background, skills, and desire to become a Forest and conservation technicians might be well suited to work as Biological technicians as well.