How To Become a Water Conservationist in 5 Steps (Plus Tips)

Research what it takes to become a water conservation specialist. Learn about job responsibilities, education needed, and positions that may be available to find out if this is the career for you.

In order to become a water conservationist, students will require a bachelor’s degree at the very minimum. High school students should focus on the core sciences – biology, math, geography (or other geosciences) and environmental science where available.

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What does a water conservationist do?

One of a water conservationists main duties is protecting water quality and supply. The duties of a water conservationist may vary between employers, but most positions require some of the same general duties. Heres a list of other possible responsibilities and job duties you may perform in this career:

What is a water conservationist?

A water conservationist is a type of conservation scientist who manages the use and protection of water supplies to conserve them for future generations, identify possible environmental issues and alleviate them. They typically advise individuals, agencies and government organizations on water quality, preserving water supplies, preventing contamination and conserving water. They often work in places where theres a natural water supply, such as national parks or forests.

They may also develop programs to reduce environmental damage, such as erosion or flooding. A water conservationist may work with other professionals, such as other environmental engineers, foresters, soil and plant scientists or civil engineers, in conservation efforts. Some of these professionals work on a contract basis for private companies and landowners, while others work salaried positions depending on the location and employer.

How to become a water conservationist

While everyones career journey may differ slightly, this is a general list of steps you may follow when choosing to seek this career path:

1. Earn an education

The first step in becoming a water conservationist is to earn at least a bachelors degree in environmental science, forestry, agricultural science or a related degree. These degrees often take around four years to complete, though the time usually depends on the students workload per semester. Most positions dont require any more advanced degrees after a bachelors degree, though many research or academic positions may require a masters. When choosing a degree program, its important to choose one that meets your personal requirements while also satisfying the expectations of the industry.

Possible courses and topics covered may include:

2. Consider an internship

Internships often provide students and recent graduates with practical knowledge and work experience, which is often a requirement for entry-level positions. Water conservation internships typically allow students to apply data collection and analysis skills they learned in undergraduate courses. Internships may also provide networking opportunities and chances for permanent job roles.

Some universities provide students with internship opportunities, both off-campus and through the science departments. Consider consulting one of your professors, an adviser or your universitys career center to find internship opportunities near you. You may also look online and in your local community to find private businesses or organizations that may offer internship openings.

3. Find entry-level work

While internships often provide water conservationists with professional experience, these are usually temporary programs. Search for entry-level positions near you or look on online job boards for similar roles. Many graduates look at local, state and federal organizations to begin their career in water conservation. Some private agencies and individuals may also hire entry-level water conservation specialists.

Joining a professional organization may aid your professional development for water and environmental conservation. Membership in these organizations typically provides a professional with access to industry resources and publications. You may also find professional development events such as conferences, workshops, meetings and webinars. One of the most valuable perks of joining one of these organizations is the potential for forming connections with other professionals. Networking often helps people gain access to additional knowledge, and sometimes even job opportunities.

4. Take continuing education courses

As you gain work experience, its also important to continue your education in the field to remain updated with current industry practices, innovative research information and new research methods. This may prepare you for career advancement and even certification if you desire. Some colleges, professional organizations and private firms offer courses on these subjects.

5. Become certified

Many organizations in this industry dont require certification to earn a position, though possessing some kind of certification may provide you with career advancement opportunities. In the job search process, certifications may also provide you with higher consideration over candidates who arent certified. The American Water Works Association (AWWA) administers the State Operator Certification Program and provides information for all states nationwide. Requirements for this certification vary based on your education and work experience.

Please note that none of the companies or certifications mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Common water conservationist skills

Some of the most common water conservationist skills include decision-making and managing conflict. Heres a list of other skills these professionals may use in the field:


Conservation scientists often evaluate the results of a variety of field tests and experiments regardless of their employer. These tests require precision and accuracy to receive valid results. You may also use complex and sophisticated computer modeling programs to prepare your analyses, but possessing your own analytical skills may help you verify the accuracy of these programs.

Physical stamina

Many conservation scientists work outdoors in a variety of environmental conditions. These locations may require you to trek through forests and walk long distances through steep, rocky or challenging terrains. You may even work through many weather conditions such as rain, heat and snow. Physical stamina ensures that you can manage these conditions and efficiently perform your work duties.


Water conservationists may instruct other conservation workers and technicians who perform the manual labor necessary for proper environmental maintenance. Speaking skills assist conservationists with making sure other scientists and laborers receive accurate and clear objectives. Water conservationists may even communicate with private firms and landowners about the conditions of their land, programs or policies, restoration efforts and progress reports.

Critical thinking

Water conservationists are required to use sound judgment, reasoning and logic to determine the most suitable plan and actions to perform for conservation efforts. They may use these skills for education, restoration and harm reduction. Critical thinking skills also help water conservationists improve certain processes and react appropriately to emergency situations.


What do water conservationist do?

They help private landowners and governments by advising on water quality, preserving water supplies, preventing ground-water contamination, and conserving water.

What type of education is required for a conservationist?

To work as a conservationist, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree. Most conservationists pursue a degree in forestry, agronomy, agricultural science, biology, rangeland management, or environmental science. Some people go on to earn a master’s degree or doctorate.

What is a soil and water conservationist?

Soil and water conservationists provide technical assistance to farmers, ranchers, forest managers, State and local agencies, and others concerned with the conservation of soil, water, and related natural resources.

How do I become a conservation researcher?

Conservation scientists and foresters typically need a bachelor’s degree in forestry or a related subject, such as agriculture, rangeland management, or natural resources. Bachelor’s degree programs are designed to prepare conservation scientists and foresters for their career or a graduate degree.

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