Conservation scientists work with foresters, landowners and government agencies to manage natural resources such as forests, wetlands and wildlife. They find ways for activities such as lumber harvesting, agriculture, mining and construction to have as little environmental impact as possible. Conservation scientists typically have a bachelor's degree in forestry or environmental science.
National Pay Information
As of 2012, conservation scientists working in the United States earned an average of $30.57 per hour and $63,590 a year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median-earning half of conservation scientists made between $47,450 and $74,930 per year, while the highest-paid 10 percent reported annual incomes of $90,870 or more.
Pay by Location
On average, conservation scientists working in Alaska reported the highest earnings in the nation, $89,250 per year. The second-highest paying state for this occupation in 2012 was Connecticut, with an average salary of $81,270. Other high-paying states included Louisiana at $76,250 and New Hampshire at $76,090. The District of Columbia also reported a high average salary for conservation scientists, $81,050 per year. Delaware reported the lowest average salary, $51,040 per year, followed by Maine at $52,540 per year.
Pay by Employer
Over three-quarters of conservation scientists are employed by government agencies. As of 2012, those working at the local level earned an average of $55,110 per year, while those working at the state level averaged slightly less, $54,010 per year. Federal conservation scientists reported significantly higher average earnings, $74,080 per year. Of those working outside the government, conservation scientists employed by social advocacy organizations averaged $57,300; those employed by consulting services averaged $67,670; and those working for private research and development firms averaged $78,840 per year.
While the BLS projects a job growth of about 14 percent for the American economy through 2020, jobs for conservation scientists are expected to grow at much slower rate of 5 percent. This is not necessarily because the services of conservation scientists are not needed, but rather because the local, state and federal government agencies that primarily employ them are expected to face fiscal crises and budget cuts. Approximately 1,200 new positions for conservation scientists are expected to be created by 2020.
2016 Salary Information for Conservation Scientists and Foresters
Conservation scientists and foresters earned a median annual salary of $60,700 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, conservation scientists and foresters earned a 25th percentile salary of $47,160, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $75,620, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 34,600 people were employed in the U.S. as conservation scientists and foresters.