Often called results-focused biology, this field strives to create science-based solutions to protect and restore naturally functioning land, water, plant and wildlife systems. There are opportunities for conservation biologists throughout the government and conservation sectors, as well as for some private industry entities that focus on natural resource extraction, such as logging companies. Conservation scientists and foresters manage the use and development of state and federal lands. They often specialize in one area, such as wildlife management, soil conservation, urban forestry, pest management, native species protection or forest economics.
Foresters work to balance forests’ recreational and economic pressures with their preservation and protection. According to the BLS, about two out of three conservation scientists and foresters work for federal, state or local governments. However, a fundamental shift in this demographic is taking place due to a combination of changes in environmental regulations and state budget cuts. Estimates indicate that in the near future, more conservation biologists will be working as consultants or for private companies. While the BLS estimates that conservation biologists may see only a 5 percent job growth between 2006 and 2016, it also noted that “healthy growth” was expected for water specialists and range scientists. Storm water and coastlines management has created a need for soil and water quality experts, and the opening of federal lands to leasing by oil and gas companies has increased the demand for range scientists who can write environmental impact reports for these companies and ensure that state and federal guidelines are followed. According to the BLS, there were 33,000 conservation biologist jobs in the United States in 2006, with the highest concentration in the West and the Southwest.