Wildlife Conservationist: Career and Salary Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in wildlife conservation. Read on to learn more about career options along with education requirements and salary information. Schools offering Environmental & Social Sustainability degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Wildlife Conservationist?

Wildlife conservationists work to protect animals, plants and environments by managing natural resources and habitats. They may work for the government or private organizations to ensure that conservation efforts are complying with regulations. Wildlife conservationists may monitor different animal populations and/or conduct research experiments to gather information used to help manage the animals. They may also check pollution levels or examine how humans impact certain habitats and resources. These professionals often present their findings in presentations or scientific articles available to the public, the government and other scientists. The following chart is an overview of different career paths in wildlife conservation.

Wildlife Biologist Conservation Scientist Conservation Technician
Degree RequiredBachelor's degreeBachelor's degreeAssociate's degree
Education Field of StudyWildlife biology, zoology, ecology Forestry, land management, environmental science Forestry
Other Requirements N/A Licensure required in some states N/A
Job Growth (2018-2028)5% for all zoologists and wildlife biologist* 4%* 3% for all forest and conservation technicians*
Median Salary (2018)$63,420 for all zoologists and wildlife biologist*$61,110* $27,460 for all forest and conservation technicians*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Jobs Are Available in Wildlife Conservation?

Wildlife conservation encompasses many job titles. Some possibilities you may consider include forest and conservation worker, environmental science and protection technician, forest and conservation technician, conservation scientist and forester. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), all these positions require outdoor work. The BLS also states that the government employs a large amount of these workers at the state, local and federal levels. Regardless of which job title you possess, your goal will be to conserve wildlife habitats and natural resources necessary for wildlife populations.

What Degree Should I Pursue?

Many of these jobs require postsecondary education. Whether you need an associate's or bachelor's degree, however, depends on the position. If you're interested in teaching others about wildlife conservation or conducting research on the topic, you'll need to earn a master's or doctoral degree.

As an aspiring technician, you may want to consider earning an associate's degree in forest management or wildlife management. You can qualify for forest and conservation worker positions with just a high school diploma or equivalent, but earning a 2-year associate's degree may help your employment prospects.

Conservation scientists and foresters generally need to have at least a bachelor's degree. You may major in the topics mentioned at the associate's degree level, or you can choose concentrations in biology, zoology or forestry, to name a few. Another consideration could be a bachelor's degree program in wildlife conservation. You'll begin this type of program by studying the sciences, enrolling in courses like conservation biology, chemistry, wildlife ecology and botany. Some programs feature fieldwork as a degree requirement, in which you'll conduct scientific field research for course credit.

What Job Duties Might I Have?

Your exact job duties will depend on the specific role you play in the wildlife conservation arena. If you work as a forest and conservation technician, you'll likely work under the supervision of a conservation scientist or forester, collecting data about natural habitats, like forests, and tracking the movement of wildlife. As an environmental science and protection technician, you would be supervised by an environmental scientist as you conduct tests and gather samples to determine environmental pollution.

Your duties as a forest and conservation worker might entail planting seeds and removing trees, as well as maintaining facilities and campgrounds. If you become a forester, you'll oversee the health and sustainability of national forests. Responsibilities could involve planning new sites, monitoring controlled burning, selecting trees to be planted and balancing recreational and environmental use of the lands. Your work as a conservation scientist would include overseeing natural resources in the country. You'd figure out ways to improve and use land and resources while considering the protection of the environment.

What Can I Expect to Earn?

The BLS reported in May 2018 that the median annual salary for all zoologists and wildlife biologist was $63,420. Comparatively, forest and conservation technicians made $27,460, and conservation scientists earned a median annual salary of $61,310.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A few related careers that require a bachelor's degree include microbiologists, environmental scientists and specialists, and agricultural and food scientists. Microbiologists examine how various microorganisms live and interact with their environments. Environmental scientists and specialists work to improve human health by protecting the environment. They may try to reduce waste and/or pollution in a particular area. Agricultural and food scientists aim to increase the efficiency of food and other agricultural product manufacturing.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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