Education and Training Requirements
If you are interested in pursuing a career in range management, you should begin planning your education early. Since you will need a college degree for this work, take college preparatory classes in high school. Your class schedule should include the sciences, such as earth science, biology, and chemistry. Take mathematics and economics classes. Any computer courses that teach you to use databases and word processing programs will also be beneficial. You will frequently use computers during your career to keep records, file reports, and do planning. English courses will also help you develop your research, writing, and reading skills. You will need all of these skills in college and beyond.
The minimum educational requirement for range managers is usually a bachelor's degree in range management or range science. To be hired by the federal government, you will need at least 42 credit hours in plant, animal, or soil sciences and natural resources management courses, including at least 18 hours in range management. If you would like a teaching or research position, you will need a graduate degree in range management. Advanced degrees may also prove helpful for advancement in other jobs.
To receive a bachelor's degree in range management, students must have acquired a basic knowledge of biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and communication skills. Specialized courses in range management combine plant, animal, and soil sciences with the principles of ecology and resource management. Students are also encouraged to take electives, such as economics, statistics, forestry, hydrology, agronomy, wildlife, animal husbandry, computer science, and recreation.
While a number of schools offer some courses related to range management, only 14 colleges and universities in the United States have degree programs in range management or range science that are accredited by the Society of Range Management. More than 40 other schools offer course work or degrees in range management or range science.
Other Education or Training
The Society for Range Management offers symposia and workshops on range management-related issues. Past offerings included “Strategic Grazing Management for Complex Adaptive Systems” and “Climate Change in Western Rangelands.” Contact the society for more information.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
The Society for Range Management offers the certified range management consultant and certified professional in rangeland management designations. Although voluntary, these certifications demonstrate a professional's commitment to the field and the high quality of his or her work. Requirements for certification include having a bachelor's degree and at least five years of experience in the field as well as passing a written exam.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
Previous experience in range management positions (part-time jobs, internships, volunteerships) while in college is highly recommended.
Range managers need to be familiar with geographic information systems and remote sensing data (aerial photographs and other imagery taken from airplanes and satellites) for mapping forest and range areas and evaluating trends in forest and land use. A working knowledge of hand-held computers, global positioning systems (GPS), and Internet-based applications is useful in this work. Along with their technical skills, range managers must be able to speak and write effectively and to work well with others. Range managers need to be self-motivated and flexible. They are generally persons who do not want the restrictions of an office setting and a rigid schedule. They should have a love for the outdoors as well as good health and physical stamina for the strenuous activity that this occupation requires.