If you have a genuine passion for the natural environment and want to ensure we can enjoy our planet's precious resources forever, then a career in Environmental Science and Outdoor Recreation is for you. This industry offers interesting and vital work, attractive starting salaries, incredible workplace locations, and a sense of achievement in addressing environmental issues.
Charles Sturt University (CSU) is a proud regional university offering professionally focused training and the flexibility to choose between on campus and distance education study.
Our focus is on education programs that prepare graduates for work, with a strong emphasis on practical learning and industry alliances. We deliver courses using real-world examples, field studies, and practical experience. This applied approach to learning ensures our graduates are holistic, far-sighted people who help their communities grow and flourish.
Graduates in Environmental Science and Outdoor Recreation are employed by a range of government agencies, businesses and companies involved in environmental management, either as consultants or as staff. They are making an important contribution to the health of our ecosystems, human welfare, and our planet.
A career in outdoor recreation and education could be ideal for you if you enjoy an active lifestyle, being outdoors and working with people of all ages.
Graduates of CSU’s outdoor recreation and education courses are employed in Australia and internationally in organisations such as outdoor education centres and outdoor adventure companies. They are also employed by government organisations such as the Department of Sport and Recreation and the Department of Education (Victoria).
They develop and conduct outdoor education programs, school camps, sport and fitness programs, and lead tours to wild and remote areas of Australia. These programs range from bushwalking, rock climbing and abseiling, to canoeing, ski touring, mountain biking, sea kayaking, and white-water rafting.
Adventure ecotourism instructors are specialists who design and deliver adventure programs. They have a wide range of knowledge and skills and work across a variety of areas in the tourism, adventure and conservation fields and may specialise in:
Adventure ecotourism instructors perform a range of tasks that include working with individuals and groups in outdoor adventure activities. Instructors develop the skills of participants so that they can act independently or with minimal supervision. Graduates may work with special populations, young people or corporate groups.
Ecotourism guides conduct tours and manage facilities that foster an appreciation of natural and cultural environments and encourage practices that contribute to sustaining the ecology of these environments. Ecotourism is an industry that has developed significantly in recent years. People are employed to conduct specialist bird watching, wildlife, bushwalking tours, or scuba diving and snorkeling trips for special interest groups. They may also be needed to help manage safari lodges, ecotourism accommodation in places such as Kingfisher Bay (Fraser Island), Mareeba Wetlands (Cairns) and Seven Spirits Bay (Northern Territory).
The growth of ecotourism reflects the desire of the modern tourism industry to be sustainable, so that activities can continue without damaging the environment. It also reflects an increasing desire by tourists to get back to nature.
A recreation officer develops, manages, promotes and implements individual and group recreation programs. A wide variety of employers hire recreational managers, including park services, hotels, camps, tourist attractions and recreational centres. This role combines administrative office duties with field work and overseeing the recreation programs. Specific responsibilities for recreation managers may include planning and budgeting for classes, activities and events, promoting activities in the community, attending activities to ensure proper implementation, overseeing staff and maintaining attendance logs.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 327,500 general recreation workers in 2008, and the overall employment of recreation workers is expected to increase by 15 percent between 2008 and 2018, faster than the average of all occupations. Opportunities for recreational manager positions will be strongest for those with relevant degrees and previous experience.
Tourism officers develop and promote tourism in order to attract visitors and produce significant economic benefits for a particular region or site. They often work for local authorities, but may also work within other public sector agencies or private companies.
The role is varied and may include marketing, visitor management and the development of tourism products, services and facilities. Tourism increasingly focuses on economic development or urban and rural regeneration as well as strategic planning, particularly in local authorities. Tourism officers usually work closely with residents and businesses in a local community in order to support the local economy. As well as maintaining visitor services and attractions, tourism officers are usually involved in strategic planning and development. Their work involves liaising with the public and with local and public agencies, as well as behind-the-scenes preparation and planning.
CSU's Bachelor of Applied Science (Outdoor Recreation and Ecotourism) has been developed in conjunction with Tourism Training Victoria and the Tourism Alliance Victoria. The degree is recognised as a leading course in its field by Ecotourism Australia. Employers come to CSU seeking our graduates.
Graduates of CSU’s parks, wildlife and conservation courses pursue careers in Australia and internationally within a range of park agencies and other conservation organisations. They find work as park rangers, wildlife officers undertaking specific wildlife conservation programs, Aboriginal heritage officers, heritage consultants or as interpretive officers conducting outdoor education programs.
A number of graduates are also employed by local governments managing their open space. While working in the parks, wildlife and conservation field, you could be involved in analysing and managing the way natural environments are used, providing advice and information to user groups, monitoring native animal and plant populations, and developing strategies to ensure environments can be used sustainably or endangered species are protected. You may run community projects and events such as information sessions or practical activities to help the wider community understand environmental concerns relating to the setting where you work.
Park rangers control, supervise and manage national parks, scenic areas, historic sites, nature reserves and other recreational areas. The role of a park ranger is as varied as the parks and environments they manage. The many responsibilities of a ranger include assisting with guided tours and promoting understanding and appreciation of the natural and cultural features of the park; patrolling waterways, roads and tracks to observe and report on the park environment; and making sure endangered animals and plants are protected. Park rangers may also be required to participate in search and rescue operations or assist in emergencies such as bushfires and floods.
The role of a park ranger involves extensive planning, researching, strategic thinking and people management in order to effectively balance conservation and recreation.
There are thousands of national parks and other conservation reserves in Australia. Park rangers protect a huge variety of environments including coasts, deserts, rainforests, reefs, snowfields and woodlands.
Wildlife officers balance the needs of wildlife with the needs of people. Careers in wildlife management are exciting and challenging and can range from wildlife conservation to pest control.
The career can be particularly rewarding and exciting when it involves protecting endangered plant and animal species and their habitats. Being in contact with wildlife and having the opportunity to educate others on the conservation importance of these animals is a dream job. It provides the opportunity to get close to and care for some of our unique Australian animals.
The acceptance of conservation programs and of regulations by the public is often enhanced by the actions of wildlife officers.
Heritage officers play a vital role in securing and preserving the conservation of our Indigenous heritage, historical buildings, or heritage sites with a world heritage ranking.
They are employed by park agencies, local authorities, and Indigenous land corporations. Opportunities may also exist with museums, private consultancies within the construction and mining industries, or for private practices specialising in conservation. Other related areas include consultancy, and in higher and further education, with teaching and research opportunities.
Heritage officers are increasingly responsible for recognising and protecting Australia's Indigenous heritage both past and present. Evidence of the occupation of Australia by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people dates back more than 60,000 years. As well as managing historically important sites, heritage officers work to ensure and maintaining the significance link between people and country are recognised.
Environmental interpretation is a communication process that involves visitors and provokes them to appreciate or to learn more about the object or site that is being interpreted. Successful visitor services in any national park or conservation area begin with interpretation. This information allows visitors to become comfortable with where they are going, to know where they can find restrooms, recreational sites and other important facilities and amenities. As an interpretive officer you will be involved in creating a variety of media. For example, visitors may use a brochure to guide a driving tour, while other visitors on a guided nature trail may look at signage or be educated by an interpretive officer leading the tour.
As an interpretive officer you will be providing information and education to visitors in some of the world's best locations for holidays, exploring and adventures.
The course was originally developed in conjunction with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. A host of organisations like Catchment Management Authorities, the Department of Sustainability and Environment (Victoria), the NSW Nature Conservation Trust, Parks Victoria, and the Commonwealth National Parks Service recognise CSU’s parks, wildlife and conservation courses.
CSU’s environmental and sustainable development graduates are employed in Australia and internationally as environmental scientists and managers, Landcare officers, catchment management officers, land and water officers, or as ecologists in environmental consulting services. They work on community development projects, environmental restoration and rehabilitation programs, river and stream management, and protecting healthy and resilient ecosystems. They are involved in sustainable agriculture, nature conservation, natural resource management and integrated water resource management.
Careers in environmental and sustainable development could include analysing current practices, developing strategies for future use of the environment, researching new techniques and systems, or providing consultancy services to people, groups or organisations who use the natural environment. These are careers that allow you to be innovative and make a real difference to the sustainable and efficient use of natural resources.
An environmental scientist or consultant works within government or on commercial or government contracts to address a variety of environmental issues. They perform a wide range of tasks including data collection, auditing and analysis, impact assessment and the development of environmental management systems.
Environmental scientists often take part in field surveys and research that directly informs management decisions.
There are a large number of companies offering environmental consultancy services in Australia and many concentrate their work in particular industries. Others specialise in particular work across all industries, in areas such as environmental impact assessment or audit. Other employers of environmental consultants include local authorities and government agencies.
While the role of a catchment manager can vary, the person needs to have a commitment to the environment and a desire to achieve sustainable economic development.
Catchment management can be required to provide planning, project management, and community engagement support to a range of catchment management and river health programs and projects. They might also be involved in liaising and negotiating with other agencies and landholders to implement restoration efforts around the coast and marine areas or provide landholders and the general community within a catchment with technical advice and support on a range of natural resource management issues.
Catchment managers are employed in peak rural industries (such as Livestock Australia), catchment management authorities, and water authorities such as State Water, Sydney Water Corporation or North East Water.
Natural resource managers develop conservation plans for nature parks, land and other natural resources, so people can use these resources in an ecologically sustainable way.
They can be required to monitor components of the environment (e.g. soil, water and air), develop practical solutions in environmental management and rehabilitation, undertake plant and animal pest management or implement techniques vital to the health of our land and water resources.
There are plenty of great careers in natural resources in a wide range of organisations, including those in the private sector, local and state government, and non-government organisations such as Landcare.
Landcare officers work in regional Australia providing on-ground support and guidance to the rural landholders who wish to use sustainable production techniques or restore their land. They are responsible for managing natural resource projects that support the regional community and increase the participation of local landholders in sustainable land management.
Landcare officers provide support for regional community based groups in a region, coordinate knowledge and skill development activities with Landcare groups, and work with groups and individuals to develop natural resource management and sustainable production projects.
Landcare officers are employed across Australia by local Landcare groups and catchment management authorities. They may also find employment within state agencies (such as the Department of Primary Industries) working on specific projects such as carbon farming, acid soils or river restoration.
Many government agencies such as the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, Catchment Management Authorities, Department of Primary Industries, local government, the Department of Sustainability and Environment (Victoria), State Water and the National Water Commission recognise CSU Qualifications. Many large businesses involved in mining, environmental rehabilitation, and consultancies employ our graduates.
CSU is recognised as a leader in applied ecological and sociological research on the environment. CSU conducts cutting edge research that directly addresses efforts to improve and restore natural and manmade environments, in partnership with the Institute for Land, Water and Society, a University Research Centre.
Researchers may be employed by a wide range of government agencies and departments, as well as private industry and consultants. The scope for CSU graduates is immense, with environmental consultancy one of the fastest-growing sectors of the Australian economy. CSU’s Bachelor of Environmental Science and Management includes an integrated Honours stream, allowing high-achieving students to take the first step to a research career, while students from other Environmental Science degrees may be able to enrol in the Bachelor of Science (with specialisations) (Honours).
Postgraduate courses and higher degrees by research offer students the opportunity to further develop their research skills and knowledge in specific areas of interest. CSU offers a range of scholarships to support students undertaking postgraduate research opportunities.
More information about CSU courses in the area of Environmental Science & Outdoor Recreation:
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Charles Sturt University was one of the few universities in Australia to be ranked as "above the world standard" in environmental science and management by the Commonwealth government in the national evaluation of research strengths of Australian universities.
“With my course I went on a two-week trip through the Australian desert, spent over a month travelling through Nepal, and had an amazing three months working as an intern in the remote rainforests of Ecuador. My university degree certainly didn’t leave me sitting at a desk. Where else can you do this and call it study?”
"Doing the degree was the best experience of my life. My course exposed me to a lot of valuable experiences, such as climbing Mount Kosciuszko, hiking on Mount Bogong, whale watching at Jervis Bay and many others. The course enabled me to gain employment as a Ranger upon graduation. Now that I am in the field I realise just how valuable the course was."
You can be part of the solution to the world's environmental problems.
Associate Professor David Watson from CSU describes the importance and roles of Australia's native mistletoes in conserving native ecosystems.
Gallery of photos from the student' trip to the centre of Australia
Students learn about ecotourism and resource management at Tua Koin
Take a walk with Ben Wilson, Head of Environmental Science at CSU.