Environmental and Wildlife Management Degree

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Wildlife and Environmental Management Overview

Environmental and wildlife management is the area of education and employment that is responsible for the preservation of wildlife reserves, forests and other natural areas with a focus on natural resources and conservation biology. Individuals in this field work within large areas, ensuring that flora and fauna are safe from encroachment, pollution, litter, poaching and hunting. Higher levels of education allow for research to better maintain the ecosystem in a given area.

What is Environmental Management?

Environmental management is the interdisciplinary study of the earth system including the environment, function, resource management, and ecosystem impacts.  Earning an environmental management degree will teach students to understand, protect, and shape resource conservation and environmental issues.  As a result, environmental managers work to understand and positively affect the world around us in the following ways:

  • Monitoring environmental change
  • Forecasting future environmental issues
  • Maximizing human benefit while minimizing adverse impacts
  • Managing natural resources prudently
  • Optimizing ecosystems
  • Adhering to principles to affect political change
  • Managing human impact on the environment

What is Wildlife Management?

Wildlife management is the study of fusing the science and art of managing wildlife and their habitat to optimize the benefit for the animals, environment, and humans.  A few basic axioms of mutually beneficial wildlife management protocol includes:

  • Balancing resource conservation with resource preservation
  • Rooting decisions in biological truths
  • Effectively managing humans and their impact on wildlife
  • Managing policies to maximize ecosystems not just a species of animal
  • Optimizing wildlife populations with associated habitats
  • Understanding the needs of wildlife across various types of geography

Best Degrees in Environmental & Wildlife Management

Accredited colleges and universities across the country offer a number of degree options to choose from in environmental management and wildlife management.  Popular degree programs include a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctoral degree.  Below, you can find a summary of each program to help you more efficiently approach a decision on a college program for your future.

Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental & Wildlife Management

An on-site or online bachelor’s degree in environmental and wildlife management is a 4-year program conferred as a Bachelor’s of Science (BS).  Students will have the opportunity to learn about the environment as part of their core classes plus a number of general education courses such as English composition, math, and psychology to help provide a well-rounded education.  Core courses can include the following: biology, chemistry, geology, physics, environmental policy, environmental toxicology, environmental soil science, geochemistry, plant ecology, wetland analysis, wildlife habitat, resource policy & planning, sustainability, computer mapping, and environmental health practices.

Master’s Degree in Environmental & Wildlife Management

A master’s degree in environmental and wildlife management is conferred as a Master of Science (MS) or a Master of Arts (MA) depending on the curricular design of the program.  The MA or MS degree in environmental & wildlife management is a 1-2 year program for full-time students.  Upper level classes for graduate students will depend on the area of concentration a student chooses to pursue.  Optional tracks in wildlife and environmental management can include: environmental conservation, fisheries ecology & conservation, wildlife ecology & conservation, water resources, environmental biology, conservation science, urban forestry & arboriculture, and forest ecology & conservation.

Doctorate Degree in Environmental & Wildlife Management

A doctoral degree in environmental and wildlife management is a terminal degree program in the field that can last 4-6 years depending on your pace, course load, and time invested in your dissertation.  Degrees conferred at this level are typically a PhD degree or a Doctor of Philosophy dependent upon the school’s design and course structure of the program.  Students seeking a PhD in environmental and wildlife management will seek to extend the body of knowledge in the field as a research specialist, practitioner in the field, or teacher in a higher education setting.

Educational Requirements in Environmental Management

Degrees in environmental and wildlife management are available from the associate level to the doctoral. The most common degree earned is a bachelor's which provides the skills necessary to conduct one's daily tasks and maintain the safety and preservation of the wilderness. Individuals will be exposed to a variety of sciences in order to better understand the ecology and processes that take place in a given environment, thus better identifying threats and working to prevent further harm. Higher level degrees allow for research and teaching positions.

Individuals seeking a school to study environmental and wildlife management should try to find programs that allow for research or internships in order to develop practical skills alongside their traditional education. Field training and research can provide invaluable insight, provide connections to individuals within the field, and assist in procuring future employment.

A curriculum in environmental and wildlife management may include:

  • Natural Resources Conservation and Research
  • Environmental Studies
  • Natural Resource Economics
  • Urban Forestry
  • Land Use Planning and Development

Schools Other Students Requested Information From:

Employment Opportunities for Wildlife Managers

Individuals pursuing a career as scientists or managers will generally seek employment through local, state or federal agencies that control areas of land that are monitored and protected. Work opportunities may vary, including park management, game officer, wildlife agents and more. As noted previously, individuals with a graduate level education may pursue research opportunities, either through pre-existing research programs or the establishment of new research through the submission and approval of a proposal.

Job growth should increase over the next decade, though the amount of available jobs will be limited due to budget constraints of the local, state or federal governments that control areas of interest. Research programs will be budgeted for, though new programs may be denied due to budgetary issues. Overall the increased interest nationally in the preservation of wilderness and animals should allow for the creation of new jobs in the field.

Top Job Titles in Environmental & Wildlife Management

As you contemplate a future in environmental management and wildlife management, it is important to understand the scope of the industry.  As such, we have assembled a list of commonly used job titles across the field of study to give you a better understanding of the specialties that exist.  Job duties and overall responsibilities will vary from job to job but taking the opportunity to understand the breadth of job titles will help map job titles to programs of interest before beginning your job search.  The top job titles for a wildlife manager and environmental manager include:

Environmental Program Manager Grassland Conservationist
Fisheries Director Habitat Management Coordinator
Health Sciences Manager Land Management Supervisor
Laboratory Manager Natural Resource Manager
Natural Science Manager Natural Resource Specialist
Research & Development Director Range Technician
Research Manager Rangeland Management Specialist
Senior Scientist Resource Manager
Water Team Leader Forest Ranger
Aquatic Biologist Forest Technician
Conservation Resources Manager Coastal and Estuary Specialist
Environmental Specialist Endangered Species Conservationist
Fish & Wildlife Biologist Marine Habitat Resource Specialist
Fishery Biologist Environmental Planning Manager
Wildlife Biologist Project Manager
Wildlife Manager Watershed Coordinator
District Wildlife Manager Ecologist
Fisheries Enforcement Officer Environmental Consultant
Game Warden Environmental Programs Manager
Natural Resource Officer Environmental Services Director
State Wildlife Officer Environmental Sustainability Manager
Wildlife Conservation Officer Research Environmental Engineer
Conservationist Research Scientist


Individuals interested in environmental and wildlife management may also be interested in marine biology or zoology.   As an additional resource, you can also read our blog post titled Top College Degrees for Animal Lovers for more information.  Students motivated to connect to national organizations may consider researching the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) or the National Association for Environmental Managers (NAEM).

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Career Summary: Environmental and wildlife management Major




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