What Are Some Popular Careers in Wildlife Management?
Wildlife management careers combine science with nature. If you want to work in a field where you can care for wild animals either up close or at a distance, read on to discover some possibilities.
Wildlife Management Career Overview
The field of wildlife management includes many careers that focus on the health and safety of wildlife populations. If you like being outdoors, you may want a wildlife management job, such as a wildlife biologist, wildlife range manager or a fishery biologist. If you prefer the indoors, you may want to become a teacher. Most jobs in this field require a wildlife and fisheries degree, such as wildlife management, wildlife biology, or zoology. College teaching positions require a graduate degree, typically a doctorate.
Important Facts About Wildlife Management Careers
|Key Skills||Observation, critical thinking, outdoor skills, physical and emotional stamina and stability, communication, interpersonal skills|
|Entry-level Education||Associate's or bachelor's degree, depending on position|
|Certification||Wildlife biologist certification is available through The Wildlife Society|
|Work Environment||Office setting, laboratories, outdoors, remote locations|
Wildlife Management Jobs: Snapshots
If you choose wildlife biology as a career, you'll spend your time observing and working with animals, collecting data and compiling information in ways that help protect wildlife and natural habitats. You may perform species counts, develop breeding programs for endangered species or game animals, monitor impacts of invasive species or human development, and educate the public about conservation tactics. Wildlife biologist positions usually require a minimum of a bachelor's degree in wildlife biology or a closely related field.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), wildlife biologists and zoologists are expected to see a 5% employment increase from 2018-2028. The BLS reported that the median salary for zoologists and wildlife biologists was $63,420 annually in May 2018.
Wildlife technicians assist wildlife or conservation biologists in monitoring and protecting animals and the natural resources that those animals use. While a bachelor's degree is usually required for wildlife biology jobs, wildlife technicians often need just an associate's degree. Wildlife technicians may perform species counts, trap and tag animals, catalog data, help formulate conservation plans, and lead educational programs.
According to the BLS, wildlife technicians (included in the broader category of forestry and conservation technicians) earned a median annual salary of $37,180 in May 2018. Employment in this field is expected to grow by 2% from 2018-2028.
A fishery biologist is similar to a wildlife biologist but specializes in the management of fish populations. While a specific fisheries degree is not usually required, jobs in this field typically require a bachelor's degree in an area of biological science with significant coursework in fishery biology, marine biology, watershed management, and other aquatic fields. Fishery biologists may perform species counts, manage breeding and stocking programs to maintain native fish populations, and assess the environmental impact of dams or other construction projects on aquatic life.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report data on fishery biologists as a distinct category, but rather includes them in the broader category of zoologists and wildlife biologists. These professionals earned a median salary of $63,420 in May 2018, and 5% growth is expected in the field from 2018-2028.
Wildlife Range or Wildlife Refuge Manager
Range managers oversee the use of rangeland, working to protect native plants and animals while monitoring the effects of cattle grazing and other commercial uses. Wildlife range managers may identify and catalog the various species in an area, assess soil composition and erosion, and work with teams of scientists to restore lands that have been over-cultivated or damaged in other ways.
Wildlife refuges are public lands designated by the state or federal government for the protection and propagation of wildlife. Your first job in refuge management may be as a wildlife refuge specialist. This position includes a range of duties, from collecting information on wildlife to educating people on conservation issues.
A bachelor's degree in wildlife management, conservation science, or a related field is the typical entry-level education for this type of position. The BLS predicts a 3% employment increase for conservation scientists and foresters, which includes range and refuge managers, from 2018-2028. Specifically, a 4% increase in conservation scientist jobs is expected. Conservation scientists earned a median annual salary of $61,310 in May 2018.
Environmental Science Professor
If you're passionate about wildlife and have a desire to share that enjoyment with others, you might want to consider a career teaching environmental science. This is also an option for those who love wildlife but may not be able to work outdoors for prolonged periods. Environmental science is usually taught at the college level, and you may need to have a doctorate to qualify for these positions. High school teaching jobs require a bachelor's degree, teacher training and state certification.
The BLS projects an employment increase of 6% from 2018-2028 for postsecondary environmental science teachers. The median salary for postsecondary forestry and conservation science teachers was $86,900 annually as of May 2018.