Forestry and wildlife conservation specialists work to preserve forests and the natural habitats they provide to various animal species. Fundamental knowledge in biodiversity, animal sciences, and natural resource preservation is used to preserve or reconstruct forests while allowing the industry to operate profitably. Typical duties that these professionals might perform include planting new trees and botanical species, maintaining an inventory of healthy trees, managing insect and disease control, preventing forest fires, and clearing woodland debris from areas used by the public.
While entry-level positions in this field are available to applicants with a high school diploma, any additional knowledge provides job-seekers with a competitive edge. Forestry conservation certificate programs seek to familiarize students with the scientific principles of healthy forests and wildlife, while key external issues like biodiversity, environmental protection, deforestation, and conservation reserves are also examined. An understanding of how human beings impact forestry and wildlife can drive better decision-making and critical thinking on the job; completing this short certificate program may make you more employable and could be a wise investment in your future.
Generally, a high school diploma is the only entrance requirement for students who wish to enroll in wildlife conservation certificate programs online. An interest in the natural sciences is helpful, and high school students may take extra science classes prior to graduation. These wildlife and forest certificate programs are open to students straight out of high school, or to employed forestry workers who wish to beef up their scientific knowledge.
Certificate programs like typically entail 18 to 20 credit hours, and can be completed in one or two semesters. Designed for students who have no formal education in forestry and wildlife conservation, some classes in this curriculum may count toward a future bachelor’s degree in forestry and wildlife. Course content is focused heavily on the natural sciences, and students are introduced to botany, biology, ecology, hydrology, and bird and mammal studies.
The socio-political issues that are so important to this industry are also examined. Participants in this program discuss habitat management, international and domestic conservation trends, environmental policy, and the impact of conservation efforts from a cultural and ethical standpoint. Students may also choose electives that are of particular interest. Typical elective courses might include:
- Forest Policy in Developing Nations
- Avian Population Management
- Mammalogy and Habitats
- Public Land Management
- Fish and Wildlife Programs and Policy
- Environmental Law
- The Impact of Ecotourism
What’s Next for Wildlife & Forestry Conservation Certificate Holders?
Job-seekers with specialized training in forestry and wildlife conservation are qualified to work for the government within organizations to conservation such as the Peace Corps and the Environmental Protection Association. State and national parks also employ many forestry workers as wildlife population coordinators or facility managers. Industry employers such as timber and logging corporations also require trained foresters to monitor and ensure ethical and legal business management. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage of conservation workers in 2014 was $27,160, with the highest 10% earning over $46,000.
Those who complete a conservation and wildlife certificate program may also choose to continue school and work towards an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree in forestry, environmental science, or a related field. A commitment to a lengthier degree program generally allows students to specialize in a particular area of interest in the industry. Graduates of more advanced degree programs often go on to work in fisheries management, ocean sciences or forest management. Master’s degree holders often serve as lobbyists or work within the political sphere of conservation.