The Forestry Degree
Forestry is a specialized field of study with unique career and educational opportunities. You can study to become a conservationist, agricultural worker, fisher, park ranger, firefighter, just to name a few. With a degree in forestry, you’ll learn what it takes to work in forest services and how to properly conserve our natural environment.
In order to obtain entry-level employment in this field, you’ll need to complete an associate-level program. You can also work towards your bachelor’s or master’s degree in any number of these specialty areas: environmental management, environmental studies, and horticulture are just a few of the many degree options available in this diverse field. These programs provide the necessary training to obtain employment and function effectively in the workplace.
If you like working outdoors and are passionate about the environment, pursuing a degree in forestry and environmental studies is a good choice. You’ll become a trained professional with the proper skills to face the challenging world of environmental affairs and sustainability. Our list of schools will help you find the right program that meets your unique career and educational goals.
Guide to Online Forestry Degrees
While it is not too common, some schools do have online degrees for forestry and related environmental majors. Click on any of the links below to contact a school to request free information.
Green Building Practices Cert
|The Penn Foster Career School Wildlife/Forestry Conservation program offers students passionate about conservation a convenient distance learning option. Students can earn their degree in as little as five months and enter careers in forest ecology or park ranging. The Green Building Practices Certificate provides contractors and architects an overview of best practices in environmental construction.|
Org Mgmt/Environmental Sci (BA)
Environmental Studies (BA)
|The Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies at Ashford University features courses that explore cultural, social, and environmental issues at the local and international level. The Organizational Management/Environmental Science program looks at business management of environmental organizations. Graduates find jobs as environmentalists, sustainability experts, consultants, and advocates.|
Environmental Mgmt (BS)
Environmental Mgmt Cert
Graduate Environmental Mgmt Cert
|The Bachelor of Science in Environmental Management from Columbia Southern University offers students the opportunity to review federal EPA and state environmental rules and regulations, explore environmental principles, and examine environmental protections. Courses study industrial and hazardous waste management along with solutions for reducing air, soil and water pollution. Certificates are also available if you require a review or seek a less demanding course load.|
Environmental Policy and Mgmt (BS)
Environmental Policy (MS)
|The Kaplan University Bachelor of Science in Environmental Policy and Management degree program offers an interdisciplinary look at environmental science. Courses explore environmental issues and examine the dialogue between public and private sectors. The MS in Environmental Policy provides a more advanced examination of these issues, and includes opportunity for more research and analysis.|
Learn About Forestry Degrees
The Bachelor of Science in General Forestry teaches students about managing forests and other public land. It focuses on the ecosystem within that area and economic venture. A forestry degree is a smart option for those who want to go into management at public parks or work protecting ecosystems. In recent years forestry has focused on a natural approach that will not harm the land or change the ecosystem on that land. There is heavy emphasis placed on conservation for both land and wildlife. Programs related to Forestry include:
- Forestry Degrees
- Environmental Management Degrees
- Environmental Sciences/Studies Degrees
- Natural Resources and Sustainability Degrees
What Classes Do You Take?
Students take many different classes in a forestry degree program, some of which include:
- Animal and plant ecology
- Soil and water science
- The business of forests
- Natural resources and vegetation
- Eco science
This is considered an applied sciences degree, and students are encouraged to participate in internships and summer programs at national parks. Some forestry degree programs are affiliated with national parks, allowing students to work at these parks or network with staff members.
The Growth of Forestry
The need for forestry professionals will grow by 13 percent in the next decade. This is because more government organizations and private companies are concerned with protecting the land and environment. You can work as a forest manager, but you can also work as a consultant for government agencies and major companies on environmental projects focusing on forests and their eco systems. Publicly funded forestry jobs can decrease during hard economic times. Fewer donations are made, and there may not be new positions for entry-level foresters.
Foresters with little to no experience should put in exceptional volunteer hours with environmental organizations. This gives you hands-on training, while providing you with experience that can go on your resume. Many foresters begin studying the subject at a young age, which means you are competing with people who have attended workshops, camps, and have completed internships in environmental studies. For those obtaining a forestry degree online, know that volunteering and internships are the best way to compete with students who attend traditional programs.
What is Forestry Management?
Forestry management revolves around protecting the forest and managing daily operations. These jobs can be difficult to find, as most people who land them stay at the position for a number of years. Entry-level positions are sometimes available, and students are able to utilize their degrees while learning about the forest they work in. Upper level forest managers may also come in to forests around the country to teach the staff how to better care for the forest and offer new ideas to implement for better conservation. You can also work in education with experience as a forest manager. You can visit schools and show children how a forest is cared for and the way a natural ecosystem benefits the land.
Do I Need a Four-Year Degree to Work in Forestry?
This is a rapidly expanding area, but right now, there are limited jobs. This will change substantially in the next five years, but for now it remains extremely competitive to get a position in forestry. It’s for this reason that you need a four-year degree to work in the field. Industrial employment and working as a forest manager require job candidates to have a bachelor’s degree. It does not have to be in forestry, but should be in a related field such as wildlife or horticulture. Most often candidates do have a background in forestry and a specialty area such as botany or wildlife conservation.
Are There Online Forestry Degree Programs?
There are some online forestry degree programs, but they are limited. It is one of the less common online degrees. Most online programs for forestry are extensions of traditional schools. Students can participate from anywhere with an Internet connection and do not have to attend classes on a regular basis; all coursework is completed online. These accredited sources give students the chance to obtain a high quality education comparable to a traditional college. Students studying forestry typically have a love for the outdoors and are able to apply their lessons to examining trees, plants, and ecosystems in their own area. Some programs allow students to come to the campus to work in labs and use resources to enhance their learning experience. In this case, class work will be completed online, but students may periodically meet at the school for special projects.
Are There Similar Online Degree Programs?
If you aren’t sure about forestry as a profession, know there are many environmental studies programs available through accredited colleges and universities. Some are through traditional schools, while others are operated by online-only learning institutions. As long as the program is accredited, you will not have an issue finding a job after graduating. Some of these similar online degree programs are wildlife management, wildlife conservation, biology, and environmental science.
Are There Prerequisites for a Forestry Degree?
A bachelor’s degree in forestry requires students to have a high school diploma or GED. Some traditional schools will only accept a high school diploma, even if you are applying to an online program, but many online programs accept either. Outside of this, there are no prerequisites for a forestry degree at the bachelor’s level. Students enjoy learning about the environment and conservation and may have a non-formal education in these areas.
What Else Do I Need to Work in Forestry?
In many states, forest managers are required to take a test to obtain a state-issued license. To take this exam, a student must first finish their bachelor’s degree in forestry or in a related field, such as environmental conservation or wildlife studies. After a few months of training, you will be required to sit for the exam. Often you have already been hired when you take the test. In states that do not require licensing, you will only receive on-the-job training for the position. If you happen to move to another state, you will then take the exam if required, regardless of how long you have worked in forestry.
What is the Accreditation Source for Forestry Degree Programs?
The proper organization is the Society of American Foresters (SAF). The SAF reviews all curriculum and guidelines for a degree program to ensure it is preparing students to work in the forestry industry. The SAF takes many factors into consideration when accrediting a program. They examine:
- Faculty credentials
- Parent-institution support
When a program is strong in these areas, it can help a student succeed. Online programs should also be accredited by SAF. Take the time to find an online degree that’s the right fit for you. While there are a limited number of online forestry degrees offered, they are out there and able to give you a quality education.
What Electives Should I Choose to Work in Forestry?
Useful electives are wood technology, engineering, economics, law, wildlife, and computer science. Much of the work a forester does is conducted on computers. There are also cutting edge programs that help foresters and others working in the environmental community track data for the land and ecosystem. Forest managers should be very comfortable working with computers and have excellent written skills for delegating responsibilities to staff members.
The best forest managers focus on conservation and allow the ecosystem to evolve on its own. Foresters should also understand environmental policies and government regulations. These regulations play a role in how a forest manager conducts business on a daily basis. Students may also wish to take management and leadership courses to improve their communication skills when working with staff members. Forest managers are in a leadership position, which makes these classes a great addition to the fundamentals of forestry.
How Much Do Forest Managers Earn?
This depends on whether the park is privately or publicly funded. Those working as conservation scientists and foresters earned about $57,420 in 2010, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics. A job as a forest manager can be difficult to get, as people tend to stay at these positions for a very long time. One thing you may have in your favor as a new forest manager is your knowledge of technology and how it pertains to forestry. Forest managers who have been at their jobs for 20 years typically aren’t familiar with the vast difference technology makes in conducting business, raising park awareness, and interacting with guests to promote the forest and environment. While a park may not do away with a long-time employee, they often hire an additional park manager who understands computer programs and can gauge the park’s progress from conservation to guest participation. There are many environmental outreach programs that are the result of technology and social media. Foresters can also work in a public relations-type role for the park, educating guests, planning visits, and hiring qualified guides.
Search online and campus forestry programs
Complete the form below to be matched with schools that suit your interests.