.

.

.

Jobs Outlook: Conservation Scientists and Foresters




Employment of conservation scientists and foresters is expected to grow more slowly than the average for all occupations through 2012. Growth should be strongest in private sector consulting firms and in scientific research and development services. Demand will be spurred by a continuing emphasis on environmental protection, responsible land management, and water-related issues. Job opportunities for conservation scientists will arise because government regulations, such as those regarding the management of storm water and coastlines, have created demand for persons knowledgeable about runoff and erosion on farms and in cities and suburbs. Soil and water quality experts will be needed as States design initiatives to improve water resources by preventing pollution by agricultural producers and industrial plants.

Fewer opportunities for conservation scientists and foresters are expected in Federal and State Government, mostly due to budgetary constraints and the trend among governments toward contracting functions out to private consulting firms. Also, Federal land management agencies, such as the USDA Forest Service, have de-emphasized their timber programs and increasingly focused on wildlife, recreation, and sustaining ecosystems, thereby spurring demand for other life and social scientists rather than for foresters. However, departures of foresters who retire or leave the Government for other reasons will result in some job openings between 2002 and 2012. A small number of new jobs will result from the need for range and soil conservationists to provide technical assistance to owners of grazing land through the Natural Resource Conservation Service.

Reductions in timber harvesting on public lands, most of which are located in the Northwest and California, also will dampen job growth for private industry foresters in these regions. Opportunities will be better for foresters in the Southeast, where much forested land is privately owned. Salaried foresters working for private industry—such as paper companies, sawmills, and pulpwood mills—and consulting foresters will be needed to provide technical assistance and management plans to landowners.

Scientific research and development services have increased their hiring of conservation scientists and foresters in recent years in response to demand for professionals to prepare environmental impact statements and erosion and sediment control plans, monitor water quality near logging sites, and advise on tree harvesting practices required by Federal, State, or local regulations. Hiring in these firms should continue during the 2002-12 period, although at a slower rate than over the last 10 years.