Ecological Jobs for Veterans

Feb 21, 2023

There are several unique careers that are related to ecology and could be ideal for interested veterans with their distinct military background. Compare and contrast some of these ecological careers, their median salaries, job duties and more.

Career Comparison

Job Title Median Salary (2021)* Job Growth (2021-2031)* Applicable Military Skills/Traits
Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists $64,650 1% Flexibility and organization
Environmental Scientists and Specialists (Including Health) $76,530 5% Global outlook and emphasis on safety
Conservation Scientists $63,750 3% Global outlook and leadership
Foresters $64,110 7% Emphasis on safety and leadership
Environmental Engineers $96,820 4% Systematic planning and ability to meet deadlines

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Ecological Jobs for Veterans

Some veterans may be interested in pursuing outdoor careers related to ecology, many of which utilize various strengths and skills that veterans were likely to obtain during their time in the military. These traits include, but are not limited to, flexibility, organization, leadership, systematic planning, an ability to meet deadlines, an emphasis on safety and a unique global outlook and perspective that can be vital when working with entire ecosystems.

In particular, former military officers in the sciences may find equivalent civilian positions. For example, Army environmental science/engineer officers may become environmental engineers for civilian companies, and Navy environmental health officers may become environmental scientists or specialists. Explore a few ecological career options below and learn why they may be a good fit for veterans. All of these jobs require a bachelor's degree.

Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists

Veterans interested in studying various animals and their ecosystems may apply their military training in organization and flexibility in a career as a zoologist or wildlife biologist. These scientists need organization and careful planning skills as they design and implement experiments and research projects aimed at studying a particular species' physical, social, behavioral and other characteristics. They'll also need flexibility and adaptability, since working with animals is often unpredictable. Zoologists and wildlife biologists may also examine how humans have impacted habitats and ecosystems, and they share all of their findings in detailed reports or presentations. They usually apply their work to finding ways to improve conservation activities for species and their ecosystems to preserve or regain some of the natural integrity of the system.

Environmental Scientists and Specialists

Environmental scientists and specialists work to protect ecosystems and, in effect, human health, which requires a detailed emphasis on safety and a global outlook that most veterans possess. They must collect samples of air, water, soil and other environmental factors and analyze them to ensure that there are no contaminants and pollutants that could harm wildlife and/or human life. Since all ecosystems are interconnected, a global outlook would allow veterans in these positions help develop large-scale solutions to any problems that are detected in these samples or through observations. These possible solutions may be presented in reports and given to lawmakers, the public and other officials to try to bring about needed change.

Conservation Scientists

Veterans can also apply their global outlook to a career as a conservation scientist, who works to help protect and conserve various ecosystems and natural resources. Veterans can exercise their leadership in these positions as they oversee different conservation and forestry activities aimed at improving the overall quality of these natural resources. Conservation scientists usually need to work with farmers and other landowners to determine best land-use practices and develop plans to manage these forests and natural resources. They may oversee land-use contracts and help supervise timber removal to make sure that the land is sustainable.


Veterans can also apply their leadership skills and emphasis on safety to a career as a forester, since these professionals oversee teams of forest and conservation workers. Foresters oversee these workers as they perform various conservation activities, such as controlled burns and applying pesticides or herbicides, intended to help improve ecosystems. Using these chemicals, heavy machinery and fire can be dangerous, so these professionals must ensure that everyone has the proper training, certification and knowledge to perform the different conservation and forestry activities. Foresters also work with crews as they remove timber to make sure that the least amount of environmental damage occurs; later, they manage the replanting and regeneration of these areas.

Environmental Engineers

Veterans may like to apply their systematic thinking and planning skills to a career as an environmental engineer. These engineers protect various ecosystems as they design and create solutions to environmental problems, such as cleaning up pollution and drinking water. They must conduct investigations and research to gather the necessary information to make detailed plans for a project, which are often under strict deadlines that veterans will be good at meeting. Once a project is completed, environmental engineers will examine the area and continue to watch it for signs of improvement. They also advise the government and/or organizations on different policies and procedures for addressing environmental issues.

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